Over the airwaves: Getting back into FM radio

Daniel Stout2010-03-26T23:16:49+00:00

As the past decade progressed, I listened to the radio less and less to the point where over the past several years I pretty much stopped listening altogether. And I missed it. I’m back in an area with some good radio programming, and I decided today to do something about it.

I have a Denon A/V receiver with radio capability. One of the reasons I had stopped listening to the radio was that I had decided the Denon was difficult to use as a radio source. But I think the difficulty lie in being able to scan the radio spectrum and not in playing the radio. If you set the presets, then it works quite easily.

I already had some ideas about what stations I wanted to listen to, but first, I needed an FM antenna. The receiver has an F connector, which is a 75 Ω (Ohm) type of coaxial RF connector sometimes found on old TV sets. I did some research online and found the equipment I needed. First, was a dipole FM antenna available for $6.99 from RadioShack. The antenna has two 300 Ω leads. So I also needed a 300 Ω to 75 Ω adapter that would match up with the coaxial F connector on my receiver. A matching transformer for $5.49 was the exact item.

The antenna has a long straight span from the bottom end, which you can run up the wall, and then it splits at the top with two spans reaching a total horizontal distance of 58 inches. It’s a passive antenna, which works well. There are also amplified antennas that you have to plug into an electrical outlet that can help pull in signals if you’re in a remote area.

After attaching the antenna, I made a list of radio stations I wanted to program into my receiver for easy access. Maybe your list will be different.

  • WERN 88.7 FM – Wisconsin Public Radio news & classical music
  • WORT 89.9 FM – Madison community radio station
  • WSUM 91.7 FM – University of Wisconsin student radio station
  • WXXM 92.1 FM – progressive talk radio
  • WMMM 105.5 FM – adult alternative music station
  • W300BM 107.9 FM – limited range Wisconsin Public Radio “Ideas Network” talk radio station serving central Madison area

That’s the list of six stations I came up with. I figured out how to program them into my receiver and away we go! There is plenty more room to add more presets, so I’ll keep looking to see if there are other worthy stations. Any suggestions?

The next step is to get these stations programmed into the radio in my car. I don’t drive much, and I usually either play my iPod through the car stereo or I don’t listen to anything. But I’ve got six new possibilities for things to listen to. I’m excited to get terrestrial radio back into my listening habits. So far I’ve been listening to WORT 89.9 FM this evening. I like the idea of a community radio station. And clearly the next step in that direction is to get involved with the radio station itself. Their website says they’re looking for volunteers!