I miss my AM radio.
January 26, 2006 12:07 AM   Subscribe

I miss my AM radio. Help me find a unit that actually receives it.

I love my NPR. Really, I do. I just miss the more eccentric side that AM radio offers.
Sadly, though, my medium-priced stereo doesn't pick up a single AM station, hardly even AM static, and the stations I want don't offer webcast (though that wouldn't really help me...I want bedside availability.)
Difficulty-- Downtown Baltimore, with three hospitals within a mile or so, semi-skyscrapers all around, and a Supermax prison, too, if that matters (No, really, this is a nice neighborhood! )
So do I simply buy another clock radio, or do I buy shortwave (I know nothing about this; forgive if I sound noob ) or some sort of AM specific expensive thing GoogleAds push?
Jeez, finding free wifi is easier.
posted by verytres to Technology (11 answers total)
Buy shortwave!

If you like the eccentricity of AM, you'll love the eccentricity of SW. I know I do. And, as a bonus, SW radios are usually excellent FM and AM radios also, so you can pick those up as well.

I've had several radios over the years. I started with this one. It's pretty good, lasts forever on batteries, is hardy, and cheap- I paid less than the price listed there. Then I got this one when I gave the other one away- it's even nicer, and once again, I paid less than the price listed there. I still use that one when I'm on the go, but at home I use the semi-portable Sangean ATS-909, and it is a thing of wonderment.

I've heard Radio Netherlands, Radio Havana Cuba, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, Radio New Zealand, Radio Taiwan (PRC and actual Formosan Taiwan), some Hungarian radio, many flavorful religious broadcasts, long distance CW, etc etc etc. So awesome.
posted by thethirdman at 12:23 AM on January 26, 2006

The first thing I'd do is make sure the radio isn't next to anything that might cause interference (pretty much anything electric but especially computers, tvs, etc).

If you can't get a signal, check to make sure your radio doesn't have an external antenna jack. If it does, you can get a cheap external antenna at radio shack. If not, try moving the power cable around and see if it helps pick up stations.

I've heard that Sangean make radios with incredible AM reception (although I've never actually heard it in person) - it looks like you could get a used one for around $40-50 on eBay.
posted by helios at 12:25 AM on January 26, 2006

Tivoli radios are dead sexy.

I've never heard them personally, but if you're looking for AM's classier side, they might be worth it.
posted by disillusioned at 3:16 AM on January 26, 2006

Call the guys at Universal Radio. They live for this kind of stuff and would be happy to recommend something. Sorry, I still do not know how to do a link (can someone save me from myself here? I feel like an idiot.)

posted by crosten at 4:45 AM on January 26, 2006

Also, if it's really your location that's causing problems, you might try one of these with whatever new radio you buy.
posted by JanetLand at 6:11 AM on January 26, 2006

We have a Tivoli PAL and its reception is truly stellar.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:54 AM on January 26, 2006

I'm with redfoxtail. My Tivoli PAL gave me back radio, although it's still not perfect. I'm in an apartment building and one of my neighbors has some device or other that generates static on the AM in certain parts of my house no matter what I do.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:03 AM on January 26, 2006

I'll fourth the Tivoli. I have a Model Two and the reception is unbelievable - I'm in a pretty lousy location, reception-wise (a very wired university campus in the middle of a valley) and the Tivoli's not had any problems. I find the built-in antenna works fine, though you can also easily hook up an external, should even the Tivoli not be up to your location.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:29 AM on January 26, 2006

I have a GE Superadio III. Never had a problem with it.
I bought it because steel, florescents and computer monitors in office buildings seriously screwup an AM signal. However, I had to put it in a window and use a wireless headset/FM tramsitter that so I could get the crystal clear signal from the window to me some 50 feet away without disturbing my cubemates.
There's also the much higher priced items from C. Crane.
Also back when I was doing similar research, I went here and learned a lot about reception.
posted by DonnieSticks at 11:49 AM on January 26, 2006

Tivoli's are decent for AM, but definitely above average for a modern radio.
Dig around in your (or your parents) basement for an old radio (pre-80s) and it'll likely have better AM reception than any radio you can buy today.
That's essentially what DonnieSticks SuperRadio is.

Shortwave is a lot of fun, but if you can't get decent AM reception, shortwave reception will probably be pretty poor as well.

If you've got the option, try an external antenna for your existing radio. If you live in an apartment, and you're really serious about it, talk to your super about an antenna on the roof. Chances are good there is one up there already.
posted by madajb at 12:39 PM on January 26, 2006

I'll second the recommendation for a GE Superadio III. I have both the GE and the Tivoli, and while the Tivoli has a richer sound (especially when sitting on a wood surface), the GE has superior reception at a lower price.

I've had mine for 11 years now, and it's still running strong.
posted by math at 2:19 PM on January 26, 2006

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