A neighboring parish ten miles away, has set up a low power FM station so I am getting some experience bringing in FM. As Catholics across the nation are setting up low power FM stations, and indeed low power FM is being used more by many groups, I am sharing my experience in bringing this type of station in.
The Holy Rosary station is really just intended for the local community and is not supposed to reach ten miles. But with the proper equipment and techniques you can get a solid signal for many low power FM stations far beyond the limited area that was originally intended.
A key issue is how high is your antenna. It is difficult to get the station located ten miles away from the first floor, but most radios will bring it in on the second floor. I even found it difficult to bring in the station at counter level on the first floor, but when I lifted the radio up about three feet above the counter it came in clearly. I finally put an old set of TV rabbit ears on top of a tall book shelf and got a fairly decent signal. I had to spread the rabbit ears wide to keep from hitting the ceiling. Even so I found the signal came in with less hiss on the second floor.
Outside antennas are supposed to work far better than the inside antennas that I have been using. If you have a roof top TV antenna then that should help a lot. Antennas are better outside, and the roof top antenna is higher.
On the AM page I said that the GE Superadio was great for AM, I also find that it brings in FM much better than cheap radios. The GE Superadio is a legend in the AM world, I am not saying that it is the best for FM, simply that it is a lot better than my cheap radios.
The whip antenna that comes out of your radio is for FM. The AM antenna is a ferrite rod that runs along the back of your portable radio. For AM you shift the position of the radio, for FM you play with the external antenna.
I have found that you can switch from one station to another by manipulating the antenna. I will be getting one station in clearly and by manipulating the antenna I can switch to another station and get that clearly. So play around with that antenna. I am still trying to determine what the system is that brings in the channel the best. One thing seems to work at one time, another works better later.
The BBC says that FM comes in best if the antenna is 32 inches long, you can adjust the wip antenna to that length.
As FM is in the same frequency range as VHF TV anything you learn about VHF is likely to apply to FM and vice versa, and VHF antennas can be used for FM. The FM stations are all between channel 6 and channel 7 on your TV dial. If you go over to the extreme low end of your FM dial you may be able to pick up your local channel 6 TV station.
Second the BBC advice on FM reception. This page is no longer on BBC, the link I have given to you is to the Internet Archive, also called the WayBack Machine.
The Australian Broadcast Company, the Australian Equivalent of the BBC, provided FM reception tips. Once again I am linking you to the Internet Archive version of the page.
WXXE had a page with some ideas I have not seen any where else, cheap, practical thoughts on FM reception advice. The type I like. But they seem to have taken down the page. I may keep searching.
Page last updated July 7, 2012
Perhaps the largest collection of tips on the Internet for home AM radio reception.
Original tips and links for middle wave or AM Radio reception
Links for AM reception in cars, trucks, autos
A page of links and tips on FM radio reception tips