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Canadian signal interference  || Coping with bad FM reception || Rabbit ears

Antenna tips || KBCS on cable || Help from your VCR

Not that there's anything wrong with commercial country music...

Recently, a new commercial station signed on the air in Victoria, B.C. at 91.3 FM÷the very same frequency that KBCS uses here in the United States. Sadly, we're finding that the Canadian signal is blocking out reception of KBCS for some folks in places like Pt. Townsend, Sequim, Granite Falls and even (sigh) some spots in Seattle. The Canadian station is legal, so we can't do anything about their broadcast signal, but if you've lost KBCS on your radio, here are some things you can do to try to get us back:

1) Call your local cable company÷whether you're a current subscriber or not÷and encourage them to add KBCS to their cable radio line-up. Explain how this is a great opportunity for them to do a real community service. Put it in writing, if you have time, and send KBCS a copy of the letter.

2) Try tuning in to KBCS on the web! Just click the Listen to KBCS live! button on the home page.

3) Write to the manager of the Canadian station to let them know how you feel:

    Dan McCallister, General Manager
    The New X 91 Three dot fm
    Top Floor, 2750 Quadra Street
    Victoria, BC Canada V8T 4E8

Or go to the station's website, navigate to their staff listing and send the general manager an e-mail message.

4) Try moving your antenna to a new spot÷pointing away from Canada and towards Bellevue. You might also try adding a directional antenna to your system. Our engineer has some suggestions on how to do that using low cost (Radio Shack-type) equipment:

Omni-directional antennas receive in all directions equally. Since you are trying to improve reception in one direction while ignoring signals to the side or back, you need a directional antenna, such as the Radio Shack 42-2385 ($2.99), which is a simple di-pole antenna. The directional pattern for this type of antenna is a figure-8÷meaning that it receives as well from the front broadside as well as the back.

If you face one side of the di-pole towards Bellevue and the other side faces Victoria, there will be no relief. But if one tip of the antenna points to Victoria and the broadside faces Bellevue (with the other tip pointing south, away from Canada) you might get some relief.

This would also apply to those of you who use rabbit ears for reception.

Radio Shack also has an amplified table-type antenna, model 15-1833 ($29.99) that is basically a di-pole with a figure-8 pattern. But since it is a di-pole and lacks the front-to-back rejection, it has the added benefit of amplification and a small profile.

Radio Shack 15-2163 ($19.99) is a directional antenna with good rejection from the back as well as the sides on the antenna. This antenna is large and meant to be mounted outdoors on a mast. One end has elements (the rods that fold out) that are longer than the elements at the other end. The long elements are the back, the short elements are the front and should be pointed towards Bellevue. With this type of antenna you need a feed cable between the antenna and the radio. Use co-axial cable (co-ax) since it is insulated and will reject any signals leaking into the cable. Make sure you use a Balun matching transformer to convert the co-ax connector to leads to connect to the antenna.

Items you'll need from Radio Shack to set up a directional antenna system

  • 15-2163 $19.99 directional antenna 

  • 15-1143 $3.99 Balun transformer for outdoor mounting 

  • $9.99 co-ax cable 50 feet. 


  • 15-1527 $15.99 100 feet 

  • 15-1140 $2.99 indoor Balun for stereo end of co-ax. 

Some stereos accept 75 ohm inputs so this item may not be needed for some installations.

  • 15-862 $7.99 5-foot mast to mount antenna on. 

Mast mounting hardware is available at Radio Shack from $6.99 to $19.99. Sometimes you can attach the mast to a fence or pole.

I have even seen outdoor antenna mounted in large attics. As long as there is no foil-back insulation in the path of the antenna some attics do work. However, nothing is better than the antenna mounted out in free air on the roof.

Another thing to consider is an outdoor television antenna pointed towards Seattle. This may help since a typical outdoor antenna is directional. If it has the big elements in back and small ones in the front it is a directional antenna. Bellevue is in the same path as Seattle so little or no alignment may be needed for better reception.


"Coping with Bad FM reception" article

Call the KBCS office at 425-641-2427 and ask for a copy!


Rabbit ears

If you're having trouble getting KBCS on your radio, try hooking up a small, inexpensive antenna, such as the floppy soft wire type that comes with many receivers, or those old-fashioned "rabbit ears."


Antenna Tips (Sam Roffe, KBCS technical adviser)

There has been much written on FM reception and trying to improve it at your location. There are also many different antennas and signal boosters on the market that people can use as well. Depending on your location, all you might need to do is erect a simple, inexpensive antenna in order to receive KBCS effectively.

Many stereos come with a ribbon type antenna that attaches to the back of your receiver. If you have one and have not hooked it up—try it! Just be sure you check to see that the connections are secure.

Or try making your own antenna!

Materials needed:

  • Six feet of single-conductor wire, such as an old lamp cord or another type of small-gauge hook-up wire.
  • A length of 300 Ohm twin lead TV cable—enough to reach from the back of your receiver to the spot where you’ll mount your antenna. (Twin lead has two conductor wires running parallel through the insulation about a 1/4 inch apart.)
  • Soldering iron and solder

The steps

  • Cut two lengths of wire 2 feet 7 inches each. (This corresponds to 91.3, the KBCS frequency on the dial) Strip some insulation off the ends. We’ll call this "the antenna wire."
  • Strip some insulation from both sides of the twin lead. This is our "feed line."
  • Solder both lengths of antenna wire to one end of the feed line. Be sure each wire is soldered to one of the wires in the feed line and that they do not touch.
  • Hook the other end of the feed line to the back of your receiver.
  • Hang the antenna on the wall in the spot where it gets best reception (or the spot where your housemate will let you….)


KBCS on cable

  • BCC's TV Channel 28 (Eastside TCI) airs KBCS audio behind calendars, overnight and at (unscheduled) other times.
  • Chambers Cable (Edmonds/N. Seattle) carries KBCS at 105.1 FM.
  • Other cable companies in our area (TCI, etc.) have not yet put KBCS on their cable and tell us they might do so if they get enough requests from subscribers (hint hint). So, if you want KBCS on your cable line-up, please drop a letter to the cable company (and send a copy to us).


Glen McCarthy (a creative listener!) wrote in with this:

I just thought I'd share with KBCS listeners a way to not miss your favorite show(s): tape them onto video tape!

  • If you have your VCR running through your stereo now, you're probably all set up.
  • You need to have the Audio In (L/R) on the VCR connected to VCR Out on your stereo receiver; and the Audio Out (L/R) on the VCR connected to VCR In on the receiver.
  • Then set your VCR to Line (instead of Channel 3), and that's it! It tapes without the tape hiss that you get with audio cassette recording. I've not noticed any difference in quality whether I tape at a
    fast or slow speed, so I tape at the slow speed. You can tape for six hours (or eight if you buy a T160 VCR tape). And, of course, this allows you to program your VCR to tape while you're not home. Just remember to set it to Line, AND leave your radio on (you can turn the speakers off, but NOT Mute).


© 2000. KBCS and Bellevue Community College. All rights reserved. 
Latest Update: 30 March 2000