Coverage Area and Reception

Reception Tips

A lot of High Plains Public Radio listeners are in areas where reception of our broadcasts can be difficult. Even with HPPR's 5-state coverage area and 20 transmitters and translators, it can be hard to hear HPPR. So here are some hints to help.

Weak Signal Problems

Weak signal is the most common problem. It can be caused by distance, geographic features, or man-made features, like buildings. If your radio is easy to move around, that can be the first thing to try. FM reception can vary a lot over short distances. Height can be very important. Sometimes you may be able to hear HPPR on the second floor, but not on the ground floor. If you have the kind of radio with a telescoping swivel antenna, experimenting with moving it around might work, too.

Try an External Antenna

A much stronger solution is to add an external antenna. Some smaller radios don't allow this--you must look for a couple of screws or clips on the back. They're usually labeled "ant". Some radios with telescoping antennas are set up so that you can disconnect that one and attach a different one.

So what can you attach? FM operates at the same range of frequencies as television, so TV "rabbit ears" can help. Better than that can be the T-shaped flexible wire antennas known as folded dipoles. These are sold at many electronics and hardware stores. Some people attach these and just let them droop down behind the radio. They will help much more if you tack them up to the wall, the higher the better. The best most people can do is an outdoor or attic mounting. You can buy outdoor antennas made for FM, but TV antennas work very well--and there are a lot of old ones available, thanks to cable and satellite.

Excellent antennas are available by ordering over the phone or over the internet. There is quite a range of prices, up to $400. If you are on the internet, a search under "fm antennas" will find you several places.

Multi-Path Distortion

Multi-path distortion is another problem. In this case, your radio is receiving the signal, but then also picks up an "echo" from a hill or a building. Since the echo is delayed, the two signals interfere with each other. The solutions involve weakening the echo and strengthening the main signal. This involves a lot of the same efforts as described above— moving the radio or attaching an antenna. If the antenna is oriented so that the main signal gets stronger, it will help. You need to know the direction of the HPPR transmitter from where you are. Click Here to take a look at a map of our transmitters. A folded dipole (T-shaped) antenna should be broadside to the transmitter. An external TV-type antenna should be pointed at the transmitter.

Adjacent Channel Interference

Finally, there is adjacent channel interference. This is when another station is on the next frequency (or the same frequency). Again, the solution is to work on strengthening the wanted signal, and weakening the unwanted one. That involves the same techniques already described.

What If None of These Suggestions Work?

Sometimes, there is no solution. But, often, reception can be better. If this advice doesn't help, contact Chuck Springer, HPPR's Chief Engineer to figure out a way to make it work.

Become a Signal Monitor

HPPR strives to maintain a consistent signal so you can listen to your favorite programs without any problems. However, there are times when the signal is difficult to listen to. So, in order to take care of these problems, signal monitors are needed to let HPPR know when there is a problem. Email Chuck Springer at engineer@hppr.org and let him know that you are interested in becoming a signal monitor for your community.

Recommended Radios

NOTE: These links to commercial businesses are provided for your convenience. High Plains Public Radio receives no compensation from any purchase you make.