I have some questions about listening to the radio in Europe.
December 6, 2006 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I have some questions about listening to the radio in Europe.

I'm studying abroad in Pau, France, next semester, and I think it'd be a good learning experience if I brought a walkman with me and listened to French radio. And then after the semester is over, I plan to travel to other countries (Germany, Italy, Greece, etc.) and listen to the radio there, too.

The following questions are really dumb...but I hope you don't judge me :) First, does European radio use FM and AM bands? Will my American walkman work ok? And does Radio France transmit to Pau, France (some of the Radio France stations look really great).

Thanks for your help!
posted by jordanian2 to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
American here: I listened to a fair amount of French rap on my portable radio when I was stuck on the Eurostar last December. Your walkman will work fine! Have fun in France!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2006

Another American here. Your radio will work fine, and they have both FM and AM over there.

My experience of traveling in Europe was really enhanced by listening to local radio. Not only was I familiar with the charts, but I got to hear interesting stuff I wouldn't have otherwise and now have memories linked with those songs.
posted by kendrak at 5:27 PM on December 6, 2006

Analog radio (AM/FM) is just about exactly the same everywhere, except Japan which uses a completely different FM band.

You might have problems with AM tuning if your radio has a digital tuner (ie an LCD screen with numbers), because you can't set it to exactly the right frequency (The US uses steps of 10KHz, Europe uses steps of 9KHz), but if it just has a mechanical dial then this doesn't come up.

AM stereo also won't work.
posted by cillit bang at 5:40 PM on December 6, 2006

I've noticed that many US/Japanese AM sets with digital displays can be set to step in 9KHz increments, even though their default is to step in tens.

On FM, the band over here goes from 87.5 to 108.0 - that may present an issue at the edges, depending on your receiver.
posted by genghis at 6:03 PM on December 6, 2006

You may want to get a Euro radio. Most European radio broadcasters upgraded in the early 1990s to RDS - radio data system., which gives you around 1 Kbps per channel. You can get song and text data, lyrics, additional info, station ID, and so on. Some fancier accessories, such as iPod tuners, do a good job of presenting the radio data.

But it's backwards compatible. If you have an old-fashioned analog-only radio you won't hear any difference, but you won;t get any of the data.
posted by meehawl at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2006

Yep, the 9kHz/10kHz AM interval on digital tuners can usually be toggled by some button incantation. And get the frequencies for stations by sticking 'Pau' in this search page.
posted by holgate at 6:39 PM on December 6, 2006

Radio France has relays and transmitters that cover pretty much all of the country. The main state stations are basically the same everywhere; France Blue varies by region.
posted by baklavabaklava at 6:46 PM on December 6, 2006

If you don't buy a walkman or similar radio, I'd recommend the Sony ICF-SWG7600G or similar.


These radios have dual clocks, are multi-mode (AM/FM, and other modulation formats), all-band. (You can start listening to Europe now!) They are sensitive, selective, high quality, reasonably small, direct tuning, lots of memories, 9/10KHz AM spacing, auto seek, timers, etc.

I've had one for years, and they're great. Other than some antiques, it's all I use.
posted by FauxScot at 8:02 PM on December 6, 2006

Thanks, everyone! You've all been a great help!
posted by jordanian2 at 12:12 AM on December 7, 2006

How about subscribing to some podcasts. That way you even get to hear stuff again if you don't understand it at first. iTunes has a number if you search for France og French in the podcast directory.
posted by KimG at 10:10 AM on December 10, 2006

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