The first Triangle Total FM Guide was published by Dave Searls two years ago. It was, for Dave, a disaster. The experience of selling copies of the guide to area stereo shops, which, in turn, sold them to the public, was “too awful to explain . . . In the long run, what was to have cleared a couple of hundred bucks for me ended up costing me much time and life expectancy.”

Dave has updated the guide for this issue of THE SUN, and written a new introduction. He emphasizes, “This is the only one of its kind. Anywhere. As far as I know, almost nobody in the popular end of the radio of hi-fi business even acknowledges the ability of FM waves to go beyond the horizon. My discovery that they do is shared only by a few thousand hobbyists and some local folks who were enlightened by the first guide.”

In preparing this new version, Dave was helped by a fancy new Mitshubishi DA-FIO tuner, courtesy of Vickers. He also used his old KLH tuner and two different antennas, a Finco FM-5 and a Jerrold QFM-9, the latter also courtesy of Vickers.

— Ed.


Would you use a $15,000 Porsche just to haul groceries?

Then why would you use your FM tuner or stereo receiver just to get a few local stations?

If your answer is “because that’s all I can get,” you’re wrong. You can get more. Lots more. Would you believe well over 100 different stations? It’s true.

If your answer is “because that’s all I care to hear,” then you might like to know what you’re missing.

Right now I’ll turn on the FM set. We’ll start at the bottom of the dial and see what’s interesting.

At 88.1 we’ve got a geology course. At 88.5, some bluegrass. Progressive soul on 88.9. Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony on 89.1. Hard rock on 89.3. A trans-sexual interview on 89.5. The Rev. Billy Something on 90.1. Silky jazz on 90.9. Some baroque stuff on 91.5. Further on up the dial is a choice of several more classical stations, some progressive rock, and the usual assortment of religion, country, top 40, and music to snore by. A lot of junk in there, for sure, but some gems too.

Those good stations come from places like Washington, D.C., Norfolk, Va., Charleston, S.C., and Warrenton, N.C. (Warrenton, by the way, plays jazz most of the time. I mention the station because you can get it even with an ordinary radio and few people seem to know it’s there. It’s called WVSP and it’s just below WUNC on the dial.)

All you need to get those stations is a directional outdoor antenna and a means to rotate it in appropriate directions. Good antennas start at about $25. Rotators start at about $35. You can skip the rotator and use your hand to turn the antenna’s supporting pole. That’s what I do. Your hand, of course, is free. The other hardware (lead-in wire, mounting brackets) varies in price. Sometimes you can get the whole setup for $50-$80. And sometimes you can just find some junk poles and wire in an abandoned house or in the woods, which is what I did.

Look at it this way. The air is an invisible stream of FM signals coming from stations up to 300 miles away. The local stations you can grab with ease. To get the Big Ones, you’ve got to use a net. The fact is, most people don’t know about that stream. They know about the TV stream, because you need an antenna for TV. But we grew up on AM, and all we needed for that was a radio. The only AM antennas we ever see are on cars. Who ever heard of a rooftop antenna for a radio? Well, FM has more in common with TV than AM, signalwise. In fact, the FM band is right between TV channels 6 and 7. If you’re near a channel 6 TV station, you’ll hear its audio right at the bottom of the FM dial, just below 88.

FM sets, however, are a lot better than TV’s at getting faint signals. In fact, if TV sets were as sensitive as FM radios, most of us would see a lot more TV stations; but TV’s don’t need to be They don’t compete on the basis of sensitivity. The TV sets with the best pictures are often among the least sensitive to weaker signals, and nobody knows the difference.

The FM story is different. FM sets compete strongly on specifications. The major hi-fi manufacturers have labored long and hard to engineer amazing improvements into their FM receiving products just to get a split-hair’s edge over competitor’s specifications. Those great specs sell tuners, receivers and radios. But when the sets get home, their fabulous performance capabilities rarely get put to use.

Even the cheapest FM tuners and receivers are pretty good. And some old ones are, too. I almost hate to admit that my setup includes a ten-year-old KLH tuner that has almost shameful specs by today’s standards. Yet that old turkey has thrilled me over the years by pulling in a total of over 400 different stations from my house in the woods near Chapel Hill.

How to use the guide

This guide is meant for people who have a reasonably good FM radio, tuner or receiver which is connected to a good rotatable outdoor antenna. With this arrangement you should be able to get most of the stations listed here, and probably a few more. If you live in Raleigh, the superstrong local stations and lower overall terrain will mean somewhat less range, but still dramatically better reception than you’ll get with the hunk of wire which is the standard antenna for most FM sets. Distortion will be much lower on local stations, too. Since each of the three triangle cities (I refuse to call Chapel Hill a village) is a different direction from each station’s transmitter, each city has a different listing to show where to point your antenna to get each station.

There are lots of different formats, and many are hard to categorize; but I’ve made an attempt in the listings to at least approximate what each station broadcasts most of the time. Some of the listings may be inaccurate in this regard, not only because stations frequently change formats, but because I can’t bear to listen to some of these stations for very long.

Reception is generally better in the summer months than in other seasons. Warm, air-stagnant summer mornings and post-midnight hours favor the more distant stations, like the ones in Charleston, Washington and Norfolk. Stations like those in Philadelphia only come in when closer stations have gone off the air. FM reception conditions vary a lot (though not as much as AM), so I’ve made an effort to show every station you might possibly get.

Sometimes there is rapid on-and-off fading on the more distant stations. This is due to signal reflections off airplanes. Some FM sets are more troubled by this than others. There are two ways to deal with the problem: (1) wait for it to go away; (2) get a tuner or receiver with a really good muting system (this cuts off the sound when the signal gets noise and discreetly turns it back on again when trouble is past). If you have any questions just write to me c/o THE SUN, Box 732, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

STATION LISTING

CHANNEL

These are in Megahertz (MHz), cleverly allocated in the USA so that no channel ends in an even number. Most FM sets show even channels. So if your receiver, say, has little marks every .2 MHZ on the dial (as with 88, then 4 little increments, 89), the stations should all be between the marks. Easy, huh?

CALL

Stations are only required to announce their call letters once an hour. So lots of them will identify as “Q94” or “X89” or the like. One station’s call I never discovered, so I listed the “98 rock” instead.

STRENGTH

Actual strength is a product of both watts and antenna height at a station’s transmitter. These numbers will give you an idea of comparative strength. They refer to the computed distance of fringe reception from the transmitter. Look at it this way. Medium power is around 70; Strong begins at about 80; Very strong is 95 and up; Weak is below 46; Very weak is below 30.

ANTENNA DIRECTION

This tells you what approximate compass direction to aim your antenna (by hand or rotator) to best get the station. Listings are for Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

FORMAT

This is an approximation of what I think each station’s format is. They may disagree, if they care. I don’t. The purpose here is to help you sort the interesting from the ordinary.

ABBREVIATIONS

pr progressive rock bu bluegrass, folk
cl classical cm community
p public n new
r religion co country
s soul sr singles rock
or oldies rock ar album rock
mor middle of the road ez easy listening
e ethnic j jazz

 

OTHER ABBREVIATIONS

L Local
(    ) planned
x to be changed

 

You won’t get all these stations; some are easier than others. I made an effort to list all the stations that deliver a listenable signal into some of the Triangle some of the time.

EDUCATIONAL BAND

               
Chan. Call Str. Antenna Direction     Location Format
      CH Dur. Ral.    
88.1 WKNC 42 ESE SE L Raleigh cl/pr/or
  WMPR 90 SSW SSW SSW Sumter, SC p/e/cl/j
88.3              
88.5 WAMU 73 NNE NNE NNE Washinton, DC cl/bu/p/e
  WFDD 68 W W WNW Winston Salem cl/pr/p
88.7              
88.9 WVPR 82 WSW WSW WSW Rock Hill, SC p/e/cl/j
  WSHA 45 ESE SE L Raleigh j/s
89.1 WVWR 109 NW NW NW Roanoke, VA cl/p/bu/j/pr
               
89.3 WSCI 81 SSW SSW SSW Charleston SC p/e/cl/j
  WXYC 31 L SW WNW Chapel Hill pr
  WDCC 10 SSW SSW SW Sanford, NC pr/sr/ar/e
  WPFW 73 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC cm/s/j/cl
89.5 WETS 106 W W W Johnson City, Tn cl/p/j/e
  WTGM 62 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA cl/p/dr
89.7 (WCPE) 46 ESE SE L Raleigh p
  WMHK 73 SW SW SW Columbia SC r
89.9 WDAV 52 WSW WSW W Davidson NC pr/p/cl
               
90.1 WCCE 33 ESE S WSW Buies Creek NC sr/cl/
  WPGT 24 ENE ENE NE Roanoke Rapids r/cl
  WGTB 49 NNE NNE NNE Washington DC pr/cl/cm
  (WVOC) 31 E WNW WNW Burlington NC r
  WEPR 93 WSW WSW WSW Greenville SC p/e/cl/j
90.3              
90.5 WKHS 54 NNE NNE NNE Worton, MD sr/s
  WBCT 55 SW SW SW Columbia, SC pr
  WKNS 33 ESE ESE ESE Kinston NC pr/cl
90.7 WACG 55 SW SW SW Augusta, GA cl/j/p
  WMRA 70 N N N Harrisburg VA pr
90.9 WVSP 73 NE NE NNE Warrenton NC b/p/j/cm
  WETA 80 NNE NNE NNE Washington DC cl/p/j/bu
91.1              
91.3 WTJU 27 N N N Charlottesville pr/cl/j
  WLTR 86 SW SW SW Columbia SC p/e/cl/j
  WUOB 73 NW NW NW Athens, OH co/p
91.5 WUNC 80 W WSW WNW Chapel Hill p/cl/j/cm
               
91.7 (    ) 84 WSW WSW WSW Charlotte, NC p/cl/j/cm
  WCIR 69 NW NW NW Beckley, WV p/cl
91.9 WGTS 56 NNE NNE NNE Takoma Pk, MD p/cl/r

 

COMMERCIAL BAND

               
Chan. Call Str. Antenna Direction     Location Format
      CH Dur. Ral.    
92.1 WRCM 42 SE SE SE Jacksonville, NC co
  WRSV 33 E E E Rocky Mount NC sr
  WDYL 46 NNE NNE NNE Chester, VA r/s
  (    ) 46 N N N Charlottesville VA  
92.3 WCSE 69 WSW WSW W Asheboro, NC co
  WLRG 94 NW NW NW Roanoke VA ez
92.5 WXNC 59 NE NE N Henderson NC co
  WESC 83 WSW WSW WSW Greenville SC ez
  WIFI 73 NNE NNE NNE Philadelphia PA ar/sr
92.7 WMJS 46 NNE NNE NNE Prince Frederick ez
92.9 WFOG 72 ENE ENE ENE Suffolk, VA ez
  WDSC 54 WSW WSW WSW Dillon SC mor
93.1 WSEZ 61 W W W Winston-Salem r/ez/sr
  WPOC 70 ENE ENE ENE Baltimore, MD co
93.3 WITN 97 ESE ESE ESE Washington NC sr/ar
  WMMR 73 NNE NNE NNE Philadelphia, PA pr
  WBBO 43 WSW WSW WSW Forest City, NC mor
93.5 WBBC 46 NE NE NNE Blackstone VA pr/ar/sr
  WXRY 45 SW SW SW Columbia SC EZ
93.7 WMYK 87 ENE ENE ENE Elizabeth City NC ar/pr
  WFBC 106 WSW WSW WSW Greenville, SC sr/or
93.9 WBAG 51 WNW W WNW Burlington, NC sr
  WKYS 72 ENE ENE ENE Washington DC ez/s/j
94.1 WLXN 48 W W W Lexington, NC mor
  WYVA 73 NE NE NE Yorktown, VA sr
94.3 WRQR 46 ESE ESE E Farmville, NC ar/pr
  WLSE 45 SE SE SSE Wallace NC mor
  WPUB 40 SW SW SW Camden, SC co/sr
               
94.5 WRVQ 86 NE NE NE Richmond, VA sr
  WEAF 51 NW NW NW Eden NC co
  WMUU 94 WSW WSW WSW Spartanburg SC r/cl/e
94.7 WQDR 93 ESE SE L Raleigh ar
               
94.9 WPVR 100 NW NW NW Roanoke, VA ez
               
95.1 WRNS 73 SE SE ESE Kinston, NC co
  WROQ 74 WSW WSW WSW Charlotte ar/sr
  WPXI 78 S S S Charleston, SC s
95.3 WPVA 46 NE NE NNE Petersburg VA co
  WOBR 39 E E E Wanchese NC mor
  WQMC 40 N N N Charlottesville VA s
95.5 WHPE 80 W W W High Point, NC r
  WPGC 72 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC sr
95.7 WKEZ 79 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA ez
  WXRC 64 W W W Hickory, NC co
95.9 WTSB 40 S S S Lumberton, NC co
  (    ) 45 E E E Plymouth, NC co
96.1 WYYD 89 SE SSE L Raleigh ez
               
96.3 WMVA 83 NW NW NW Martinsville, VA sr/x
  WHUR 70 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC j/s
96.5 WSTS 83 S S SSW Laurinburg, NC r
  WBCI 70 NE NE NE Williamsburg, VA ez
               
96.7 WKRX 46 NNE N NNW Roxboro, NC co
96.9 WDBM 49 W W W Statesville, NC sr
  WEQR 67 SE SE SE Goldsboro, NC ez
  WXTC 86 WSW WSW WSW Charleston, SC ez
97.1 WASH 70 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC mor
  WQMG 66 W W WNW Greensboro, NC sr/mor
97.3 WGH   ENE ENE NE Norfolk, VA cl
  WWIL 80 SSE SSE SSE Wilmington, NC s
  WKBC 73 W W W N. Wilkesboro mor
97.5 WJLC 59 N N NNW South Boston, VA or/pr
  WCCV 71 N N N Charlottesville ar
97.7 WFLO 60 NNE NNE N Farmville, VA mor
  (WQDW) 46 ESE ESE ESE Kinston, NC r
97.9 WPEG 57 WSW WSW WSW Concord. NC co
  “Rck98” 73 NNE NNE NNE Baltimore, MD ar
98.1 WQSM 80 SSE S SSW Fayetteville sr/ar
  WTVR 80 NE NE NNE Richmond, VA ez
  WBOB 59 WNW WNW WNW Galax, VA mor
98.3 WTNC 43 W W W Thomasville, NC sr
  WGOL 42 N N NNW Lynchburg, VA ar/sr
  WWDR 45 ENE ENE ENE Murfreesboro, NC ez
98.5 WSB-FM 85 WSW WSW WSW Atlanta, GA ez
  WYCR 73 N N N Hanover, PA sr
98.7 WRQK 78 W W WNW Greensboro, NC sr/s
  WMOD 72 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC ez
98.9 WSPA 107 WSW WSW WSW Spartanburg, SC ez
99.1 WNAV 73 ENE ENE ENE Annapolis, MD mor
  WSLQ 113 NW NW NW Roanoke, VA ar/sr
  WENC 59 S S S Whiteville, NC co
99.3 WRCS 46 ENE ENE ENE Ahoskie, NC sr
  WPLZ 46 NE NE NNE Petersburg, VA ez
99.5 WMFR 55 W W W High Point NC mor
  WBKW 81 NW NW NW Beckley, WV sr
  WGAY 70 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC ez
99.7 WYFI 70 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA r
  WRKB 55 WSW WSW W Kannapolis, NC mor/r
99.9 WVBS 51 SSE SSE SSE Burgaw, NC sr
  WLOS 104 W W W Asheville, NC ez
100.1 WWOD 38 N N NNW Lynchburg, VA r
  WSCQ 46 SW SW SW W. Columbia, SC n
100.3 WGLD 76 W W W High Point, NC ez
  FWAN 57 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC e
100.5 WCMS 73 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk co
  xWLBG 86 WSW WSW WSW Laurens SC sr
100.7 WFMA 76 E E ENE Rocky Mount co/cl
  WQPO 54 N N N Harrisonburg VA sr
100.9 WMFD 46 SSE SSE SSE Wilmington, NC ez
  WABZ 46 WSW WSW WSW Albermarle, NC ez
101.1 WNCB 80 WNW W WNW Burlington, NC ez
  xWWDC 73 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC ar
101.3 WVHR 69 ENE ENE ENE Hampton, VA mor
  WWDM 83 SSW SSW SSW Sumter, SC co/sr
101.5 WRAL 105 ESE SE SE Raleigh sr/or
101.7 WJJS 45 NNW NNW NNW Lynchburg, VA s
  WKQZ 45 S S S Myrtle Beach, SC sr
101.9 WGNC 69 WSW WSW W Gastonia, NC sr
  (    ) 86 ESE ESE ESE New Bern, NC  
  WLIF 73 NNE NNE NNE Baltimore, MD ar
102.1 WWMO 66 NW NW NW Reidsville, NC r
  WRXL 80 NE NE NNE Richmond, VA ar
102.3 WPTM 46 ENE ENE ENE Roanoke Rapids co
  WHFS 46 NNE NNE NNE Bethesda, MD pr
  WJSV 44 S S S Lumberton, NC mor/r
  WOKN 44 SE SE SE Goldsboro, NC s
102.5 WKTM 62 WSW WSW WSW Charleston, SC ar
  WKIT 75 W W W Hensersonville co
  WOLC 73 NE NE NE Princess Anne, MD  
102.7 WAAV 60 SSE SSE SSE Wilmington, NC ez
               
102.9 WOWI 73 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA s/j
  WHKY 57 W W W Hickory, NC sr
103.1 WQTI 46 SSE SSE S Florence, SC sr
103.3 WAKG 84 NW NW NW Danville, VA ez
  WESR 67 ENE ENE NE Tasley, VA mor
103.5 WEZL 60 WSW WSW WSW Charleston, SC co
  WGMS 72 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC cl
103.7 WSOC 90 WSW WSW W Charlotte NC co
  WEZS 76 NE NE NNE Richmond, VA ez
  WSEC 61 E E ENE Williamston, NC mor
103.9 (WAKS) 46 SE SSE SW Fuquay-Varina co
104.1 WTQR 92 WNW WNW WNW Winston-Salem co
  WXTR 39 NNE NNE NNE LaPlata, MD co
104.3 WXTC 75 E E E Tarboro, NC co
  WBBQ 102 SW SW SW Augusta, GA sr
104.5 WQRK 73 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA sr/ar
  WHIS 73 WNW WNW WNW Bluefield, WV sr
104.7 WEZC 97 WSW WSW W Charlotte ez
  WSUS 61 NE NE NNE Crewe, VA co
  WBOC 71 NE NE NE Ocean City, MD ez
104.9 WVVV 46 NW NW NW Blacksburg, VA sr
  WKVL 38 ENE ESE ESE Havelock, NC sr
  WKSM 38 S S S Tabor City, NC ex
105.1 WDCG 67 NE L NW Durham co
105.3 WAGY 89 WSW WSW W Gaffney, SC co/r
  WXRI 73 ENE ENE ENE Norfolk, VA r
105.5 WFJA 36 S SSW WSW Sanford, NC co
  WSHV 42 NE NE NNE South Hill, VA mor
105.7 WFMX 74 W W W Statesville, NC co
  WAUG (96) SW SW SW Augusta, GA sr
105.9 WXRA 70 NNE NNE NNE Woodbridge, VA co
               
106.1 WXYY 56 E ESE E Wilson, NC mor
               
106.3 WMNA 44 NW NW NW Gretna, VA mor/co
  WSTN 41 SSW SSW SSW Florence, SC sr
106.5 WSFL 85 ESE ESE ESE Bridgeton-New Bern, NC sr
  WRDX 57 WSW WSW W Salisbury, NC sr
  WRFK 64 NE NE NNE Richmond, VA cl/p
106.7 WEZR 73 NNE NNE NNE Manassas, VA ez
  WDIX 82 SSW SSW SSW Orangeburg, SC s
106.9 WMIT 107 W W W Mt. Mitchell, NC r/cl
               
107.1 WDBS 46 NE L NW Durham pr/cl/bu
  WRRZ 46 SSE SSE SSE Clinton, NC mor
  WIOZ 46 SSW SSW SW Southern Pines mor
107.3 WMAL 73 NNE NNE NNE Washington, DC ar
               
107.5 WKZL (80) WNW W WNW Winston-Salem pr
  WEXM 60 ENE ENE ENE Exmore, VA sr
107.7 WNCT 82 ESE ESE E Greenville, NC co
               
107.9 WBT 91 WSW WSW WSW Charlotte, NC ez
  WFSI 66 NE NE NE Annapolis, MD r