How to Get Clear Reception on AM Radio Stations

Written by maya austen
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How to Get Clear Reception on AM Radio Stations
(radio image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com)

AM radio signals are more vulnerable to signal interference than FM radio signals. Little things like weather or even the physical location of your radio can get in the way of your ability to receive clear reception from an AM station. Due to the nature of AM radio signals, it's not possible to guarantee crystal-clear radio reception all the time, but there are some solid strategies you can employ to get clear AM radio reception a good majority of the time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • AM radio
  • AM antenna (optional)

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Instructions

    Clearing Up the Noise

  1. 1

    Move your radio away from all computers, fluorescent lights, neon lights, microwaves, televisions, cell phones, and cell phone chargers. These devises tend to produce noise in the medium frequency band, where AM radio is broadcast.

  2. 2

    Turn your light dimmers (if applicable) to the full "on" or full "off" position. Any other position can also cause interference with your AM reception.

  3. 3

    Slowly rotate your radio to test its reception for a particular AM station when the radio is facing different directions. With most radios, the AM antenna is actually built inside the radio. And since AM antennas are directional antennas, you have to turn your entire radio in order to point the AM antenna in different directions. The extendable pole antenna on the outside of your radio is for FM reception, not AM, so adjusting this antenna will do little to help AM reception.

  4. 4

    Connect an external AM antenna to your radio if it's equipped with an AM antenna input. If your radio is not equipped with an AM antenna input, there are also wireless AM antennas on the market that you can use to better your reception.

  5. 5

    Try placing your radio near a window, where AM signals are strongest.

Tips and warnings

  • You might consider installing an outdoor antenna if, after going through the steps, you're still experiencing AM reception difficulties.
  • AM radio signals are naturally predisposed to higher levels of signal interference at night (the period just before sunset and just after sunrise). At nighttime, when the lower level of the ionosphere (which is good at absorbing AM radio waves) disappears, AM radio frequency signals tend to get bounced back to earth by the upper ionospheres. This reflection can cause AM signals, which during the day are outside of your broadcast zone, to travel for miles and enter other broadcast zones, causing signal interference. To minimise this impact, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requires some AM radio broadcasters to operate at reduced power during nighttime hours. This may make receiving a strong, clear radio signal from some AM radio stations that come in clear during the day, difficult to receive at night.

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