There’s one thing about DBS that everyone hates: The signal.

I have some bad news. There’s not a thing that DBS can do about it. In fact, there’s not a thing that Village Broadcasting Company can do about it either. Oh, maybe they can raise the transmitting antenna five feet, which is all the lee-way they have before reaching the legal height limit. But not much else.

The problem is this: DBS is limited, by FCC rules that will never change, to 3,000 watts with an antenna height of 300 feet (they’re 295 now). Compare that to the competition. WQDR is 100,000 watts at 590 feet; WUNC is 50,000 watts at 800 feet; WYYD is 97,000 watts at 970 feet and WRAL is 250,000 watts at 990 feet.* You don’t even need an antenna to get those stations. Get close enough, and you don’t even need a radio. And get this . . . all those big guys are sitting on channels where even further increases are allowed. WQDR and WRAL already have permits to go up to 1,780 and 1,950 feet, respectively. That’s like adding insult to overkill.

If you want to get DBS better, you can’t blame the signal. It really isn’t that bad. Technically there isn’t a cleaner sound in the market, or anywhere, for that matter.

If you live in Durham or Chapel Hill and have trouble getting DBS, chances are your antenna isn’t hooked up. If you think this is a small likelihood, here is a fact: about 40% of all FM radios, tuners and receivers included, have the antenna hooked up wrong. Go take a look. There’s a good chance yours is.

If hooking up a new antenna or fixing the one you have doesn’t work, either your radio is crummy or you need an outside antenna. With an outside antenna and a rotator you not only get DBS perfectly, but at least 100 other stations as well. It isn’t complicated or expensive. [see SUN no. 28 for more details.

*There are two types of channels, regional and local. Almost all stations in this part of the country are considered regional, and are allowed 100,000 watts at 2,000 feet. WDBS is considered local, and allowed 3,000 watts at 300 feet. Since all channels are taken, DBS can’t move.