Radio reception can vary depending on the band and frequency of the station you are trying to receive, the topography of the land where you have the receiver, and the materials used in the building where you are listening. There are a number of simple wire antennas you can use to improve radio reception for a number of different bands, including FM, AM and short wave frequencies.
Making a simple FM antenna is quite simple. The most basic form of antenna is to wrap wire around the existing antenna and hang the wire out of a window. Vary the number of wraps and the length of the antenna until you get improved reception for a particular station. If your receiver has an antenna connection, making a purpose-built antenna for FM from 300 ohm antenna wire is not difficult. To make a T-shaped FM antenna, strip the ends of a four- foot, nine-inch long piece of 2 conductor 300 ohm antenna wire. Wire the pairs together at each end. Cut through one of the wires at the centre and strip off the insulation. Attach the vertical wire that will carry the signal to your receiver by splicing one conductor on the vertical to one of the stripped conductors on the horizontal and splicing the other vertical to the other stripped horizontal wire. Wrap all connections in electrical tape and connect your T-shaped antenna to your receiver.
AM radio antennas are also easy to make. Like FM antennas, simply wrapping wire around an existing telescoping antenna and dropping a length of wire out a window can improve reception. However, by stringing a wire from a window or roof to a tree to make a very long horizontal antenna, you can make a very effective AM antenna. Many people will make a temporary antenna by tying a rock to the end of the wire and tossing it over a branch. Do not, however, use these temporary antennas in lightning storms without arresters to prevent electricity from travelling back along the wire. If you make a permanently installed antenna, use good quality ceramic insulators and be sure to add a good quality arrester.
Although short wave radio is used less now than in the past, it can still be a good source of news in very remote areas. Short wave signals travel over a long distance and can often be very faint. Making a short wave antenna is almost identical to making an AM antenna. However, short wave bands are divided into lengths such as 11 meter, 13 meter, 80 meter and 160 meter. Those lengths indicate the length of the horizontal transmission antenna. By matching the length of the transmitting antenna, you can maximise reception on that band. For example, a 13 meter antenna will boost signals transmitted on the 13 meter band more than signals from other bands. It will, however, boost signals across the short wave spectrum.