Timed Radio Recording

You might want to time shift a favorite radio program. For example, record the program while you are working or sleeping and listen to it while you are at home or in the car.

Or you might be having trouble with radio reception. Many low power AM radio stations cut their power at sundown because the FCC does not want them to interfere with other stations at night when AM signals can go farther. Even if the low power station does not cut their power the signal is often harder to get at night because of the interference of distant high power stations. You can record the station during the day and listen to the recording in the evening.

You can time shift your favorite program in several ways. You could buy a number of different types of equipment for between a hundred and two hundred dollars which will allow you to time shift easily.

There are a couple of free or cheap solutions, one (which I invented) uses an anti-burglar timer, and the other uses a VCR.

Finally, you can frequently get programs off the internet. Once you have downloaded the file you can play it back in the car or any where in the house with a little reasonably priced equipment.

Free or Near Free

I will begin with the free methods. These ideas may be useful for the occasional user. These ideas can give the more regular listener a chance to try the idea out before they spend a hundred dollars or perhaps two on equipment. People listen to a lot of radio. Good equipment is a real bargain if you use it. It is very expensive if you lose interest after using it a couple of times.

Record Radio Programs With an Automatic Timer

You can use an automatic timer, that turns the lights on and off when you are gone to fool burglars, to turn your radio and a tape recorder into an audio version of a VCR.

You can probably figure out how to use the burglar timer yourself but as the how to series for dummies and idiots are so popular I will explain it.

  1. Set the anti-burglar timer to the current time.
  2. Set the on switch to the time the program begins and the off switch to the time the program ends.
  3. Plug the anti-burglar timer into the wall socket.
  4. Plug the power cord from your radio-tape recorder into the anti-burglar timer.
  5. Place a cassette into the tape recorder.
  6. Press the play and record buttons simultaneously.
  7. At the proper time the anti-burglar timer will let the electricity through to the radio- tape recorder and it will record the program.

This idea will only allow you to record on one side of the tape on most radio tape recorders. You will need a two hour tape to record a one hour program, and a one hour tape to record a half hour program. Two hour tapes use a thinner tape which is more likely to jam in the machine, 90 minute tapes are the longest that is recommended by many producers of tape recorders. Catholic fans of EWTN can get along on one hour of recording for almost all their programs and many EWTN programs are a half an hour. Fans of secular talk shows will want a way to record a three hour talk show.

Radio Recording with a VCR

You can rig your VCR to your radio the same way you rig your tv to your VCR and use the VCR to do timed recordings.

One advantage of the burglar timer method is that the tapes can be played in your car's cassette player, while VCR tapes must be used at home.

Obviously you probably will not try this unless you own a VCR, but even if you do you might have to spend a few dollars buying cables that will allow you to hook up your radio to the VCR.

Timed Radio Recording Equipment you can buy

It is often a good idea to try recording radio programs using the above tips which are free if you happen to have the equipment around the house, which many people do. But if you really get into recording programs it is probably better to buy equipment. The average American listens to more than a thousand hours of radio a year. It is likely that many readers of this listen more than that. So over a few years the cost of the equipment could get dirt cheap if you use it for a lot of your radio listening.

There are many types of equipment that you can buy for one to two hundred dollars. C. Crane Company sells many of them. You can search their site with the words timed radio recording to find many of them. There are high quality short wave radios, (they should also do a great job on AM) which have built in timed recording: the Kaito KA1121 Radio w/ MP3 Player/Recorder for about $160, and the Sangean PR-D8 AM/FM Radio-MP3 Player/Recorder for about $170. There is a AM/FM radio that does timed radio recording: the CC Witness for about $150.

They also have a tape recorder designed for this purpose: the VersaCorder 1/4 Speed Cassette Tape Player/Recorder for about $110. This provides you with about five solutions that I found easily on this one site. Of course this is constantly changing, so by the time you read this it maybe out of date.

Internet Radio and Time Switching

Many radio stations are available on the web and it often possible to use this source for time switching. For most people this may well be the answer, but it is outside my own area of expertise and a little off topic so I will leave it at that for now.

Here is my contact information.

Original AM radio reception tips and links

AM radio reception tips collected from many pages

A page on Programing a VCR

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Page last updated on December 11, 2009