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AM signals and AM antennas differ from FM. Since they are different types of transmission, receiving signals are a little different. Here are some explanations to help you get a better understanding of how AM works so that you can be a better AM listener and receive signals better.
AM signals follow the curvature of the earth, while FM signals are line-of-sight. FM signals can be blocked by terrestrial objects...such as mountains, trees, and buildings. AM signals follow the ground. Some radio lovers and AM listeners refer to AM signal as "ground wave" because the radio waves follow the ground. This gives AM an advantage over FM in mountainous areas such as Wyoming since the signals won't be blocked by the mountains. This is also why AM towers are always at ground level, while FM transmitters are located high upon tall towers or mountaintops. There is no advantage to broadcasting an AM signal from high atop a mountain.
On a car radio, the AM and FM antennas are combined into one basic antenna that receives everything. Most cars have a "whip" antenna sticking out of the fender, while some newer cars incorporate the antenna into metallic lines on the rear window along with the metallic lines on the window that make up the "rear window defroster". These newer vehicles tend to have a tougher time with AM reception, although listening to a local AM station (such as KEVA) there is usually enough signal to get through and it's fine.
Many smaller radios and "boombox" type radios have a telescoping "whip" antenna on them. Many people don't know it, but the "whip" is for FM reception only. The AM antenna on these radios is actually a bar inside the radio. All clock-radios also have the built-in bar antenna. With a radio like this, which has a "built-in" AM antenna, reception can be improved usually by turning the radio. Actually rotate the position of the radio to the left or right and usually the signal will improve. Metal siding and metal/steel buildings can block AM signals like a shield so many times the reception can be improved by placing the radio in a different location in the building....such as closer to a window or door so the signal is not being blocked as much.
"Component-type" tuners may have a screw or clip terminal on the back of the receiver. Most of these types of tuners are part of a multi-component system. You might have a stereo receiver that includes a CD player, cassette, tuner, and separate speakers. Look on the back side of this unit and see if there is a screw terminal or clip labeled "AM antenna". If there IS, then something needs to be connected to that in order to receive AM reception. Even if it's just a twist-tie that has the paper stripped off the end of it, as long as there is something connected to that terminal, you'll usually be able to receive our signal. Having nothing connected to that, however, you won't be able to receive anything.
Keep in mind that electrical interference can be a major player in clear AM reception, whereas it's not as critical with FM. Setting your radio on top of your computer or near your monitor is not a good idea because it will pick up electrical interference. Try setting it on the other side of the room away from electronic equipment. If you still can't pick up the signal, tell us! We will do all we can (even send someone over) to help you.
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