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How to Hear The Public's Radio On-Air & On-Line

The Public's Radio transmits on 89.3FM across Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

We also have three supplemental signals to augment coverage in specific areas:

  • 88.1FM in Providence and Seekonk.
  • 91.5FM in Coventry.
  • 102.7FM in South County & Newport.

Note: 91.5 may have Coventry High School students providing programming between 2pm-8pm on weekdays when school is in session.

Below are some tips & tricks you can employ to get the best radio listening experience possible. Please note that while we attempt to provide as up-to-date information as possible, and provide as honest opinions as possible, we cannot guarantee that a particular make & model of receiver will automatically work your specific situation. Too many factors, such as location, local terrain, nearby possible sources of interference (even LED lightbulbs or cellphone chargers), and the specific make/model of receiver and antenna will have highly variable impacts on your specific listening experience. That said, we do hope the info provided is helpful for you.

IMPROVE RADIO RECEPTION: BETTER RADIO!

IN-CAR: Most car radios are already pretty good FM receivers, but if your stock radio in your car isn't an HD Radio receiver we recommend getting one, if possible; Crutchfield is helpful here. Both 89.3 and 102.7 transmit in HD, and thus can be heard in clear digital on an HD Radio receiver. But in general HD Radio receivers are just better receivers, period. They have been filtering and better Digital Signal Processing (DSP) so they'll pick up analog FM stations better, too.

IN-HOME: This is also true for in-home radios, although there aren't many HD Radio tabletop receivers available for sale these days; the Insignia NS-HDRAD2 at Best Buy ($50) is one of the only ones you can buy in a store, although others, like Sparc & Sangean models, are available online.

Generally speaking, Tivoli Audio makes pretty good tabletop radios.

PORTABLE: For portable radios, if you can find a portable HD Radio receiver, they're generally good receivers overall. I haven't tried the Sparc SHD-TX2 portable radio, but I have tried the Sparc SHD-BT1 tabletop radio and it's pretty good.It 's not HD, but I 've also used the Radio Shack Digital AM/FM Pocket Radio (Catalog # 1201475) and for $30 it's surprisingly good, although it often takes a lot of fiddling with the orientation of the radio/antenna to get a clear signal. Unfortunately there are no Radio Shacks in Rhode Island anymore, but you can still buy it online.

IMPROVE RADIO RECEPTION: BETTER ANTENNA!

In general, don't replace your car radio antenna with an aftermarket antenna; most of them (like "Shark fins") sacrifice functionality for aesthetics. Usually the stock antenna is the best bet.

However, replacing your home radio antenna is often a good idea! Many tabletop radios have poor-to-medium stock antennas, but many also allow you to connect an external antenna. Usually through an F connector (commonly called a "co-ax connector" or "cable TV connector") or through a pair of screw terminals and a "balun".

Do you have an old TV antenna on your roof? These are often VHF antennas and will work very well for FM as well. Rotate the antenna towards your preferred signal (use the handy site www.FMfool.com to find the direction/azimuth for your location) and connect the antenna to your radio's "external antenna" jack. Remember to connect the appropriate grounding wires for lightning protection.

Want to buy one of these outdoor TV/VHF antennas? You can find them at local electronics stores like:

  • A&J Distributor (no walk-in service, North Kingston, RI / 401-421-0991)
  • You-Do-It Electronics (40 Franklin St, Needham, MA / 781-449-1005)
  • Some Best Buys will have them, but many don't.
  • Some Home Depots will have them, especially ChannelMaster and Winegard.

Ask for a "yagi" (YAH-gee) FM or VHF antenna. Don't get an antenna that's specifically for UHF - those are only for TV and are more common since the DTV migration of 2009. If you're not sure, look for it to say "VHF." It can say it's a TV antenna, too, the key is that it's made for "VHF". If says "VHF", you should be good. And the bigger the better: the larger the antenna, the higher the gain, the more directional it is. That means more of the signal you want and less of the signal you don't, although it also means you have to aim the antenna more carefully, too.

FM only antennas are getting increasingly difficult to find online, but as of July 2018, MCM Electronics has the Stellar Labs 30-2460 four-element yagi antenna for sale again.

Engineer's Tip: DIPLEXING! Got a DirecTV or Dish Network satellite dish, and want to add an FM antenna but don't want to run a second, unsightly coaxial cable? You can "diplex" the satellite TV signal and an FM antenna signal on the same coaxial cable. You'll need a pair of diplexers (these are one example), one at either end of the cable - they're usually pretty cheap, well under $20ea, often under $10.

Does your radio seem to have no antenna? That usually means the antenna is the headphone cord (most portables) or the power cord (many clock radios). Adjust either cord to see if it improves reception. If the cord is balled up and shoved behind a table or countertop, that will negatively impact reception.

If an outdoor antenna is impractical, even a simple indoor "di-pole" (DIE-pole) antenna is better than nothing. It's two pieces of wire shaped like a "T", available at Amazon and elsewhere; I've seen them at some hardware stores but it's inconsistently stocked. Mount the antenna with the upper part of the "T" is horizontal and is as "broadside" (perpendicular) as possible to the transmitter you're trying to receive.

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Coverage Map for 89.3FM
Coverage Map for 89.3FM
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