by Carlo Longino

Up Next On NPR: Gangsta Rap, Heavy Metal and Howard Stern

from the not-so-low-power dept

While switching to satellite radio cost Howard Stern a lot of listeners, he is apparently gaining some inadvertently, too. Some FM stations are complaining that FM transmitters people use to relay satellite radio to their car stereos are too strong, and are interfering with their broadcasts in other people's cars. Coincidentally, this AP story comes out a day after XM disclosed it was under investigation by the FCC, which alleges the FM modulator in one of its radios transmits at too high power -- which could cause these types of problems. Of course, for some people, broadcasting to other cars is just the point. Remember the iPod radio phenomenon? This story also illustrates that even a closed, licensed spectrum doesn't guarantee there won't be problems with interference.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    spr0949, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:30pm

    Satellite Radio

    Could this mean a resurgence for AM Radio?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Bob, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:32pm

    Nah I hope its the death of FM. All it is anyway is 50% commercials and the music that is played is just 5 songs that the stations were paid to play over and over and over. Satellite radio is the way to go!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:41pm


    Yeah, well don't look now, but satellite is becoming more and more like FM every day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Sam, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:41pm

    Sat Radio

    I use one of those transmitters. It works great. I set it to an off station in my area and the sound is great. I do not listen to FM anymore. Regarding the strong transmission, it does send a signal a good 50 feet from the unit, but that should not interfere with radio signal. When I go into another area where there is actually a radio station on the station I picked to transmit, I get the ligitimate radio transmission not the Siruis radio transmission.
    I got Siruis for Stearn, but love the rest of it too. You can not comprehend the magic of commercial free music until you have it. The selection is also great. I now can listen to classical music, something I was missing in my area. It is well worth the small monthly fee (which I paid yearly)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Bob, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 1:48pm

    Are you Sirius?

    So how could Howard Stern inadvertently pick up listeners from leaky XM transmissions? If the XM units under investigation by the FCC are causing interference, Mr. Stern wouldn't benefit, since his show is on Sirius Satellite Radio, not XM. Unless maybe ALL satellite radios are transmitting too powerful a signal...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Sat Radio

    I purchased an IRoc FM transmitter (cheapest model)
    and found it easy to modify. Remove three screws in
    the battery compartment, disconnect right hand wire
    from the circuit board and solder a 39 inch wire to the
    circuit board in its place. Use the soldering iron to make
    a small hole for the 39 inch wire to exit. Voila 400+
    foot range instead of 50ft. Of course YMMV but this is
    a nifty community boradcasting tool. The commercial
    stations greed had ruined AM and FM for the most part.
    AM is a shambles with the change from protected
    clear channel stations (not to be confused with clear
    channel network) The FCC proved to be either owned
    or technically incompenatnt with that set of rule
    changes. FM is consolidated to the point where turning
    the dial yields one station after the other playing the
    same damn thing. The bitch about satellite radio is
    just another death gasp of a media killed by lack of
    imagination and greed,

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    D P, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Are you Sirius?

    I think you missed the point... the idea of the article is that FM Transmitters are too powerful and can cause leakage.

    The XM radio modulator was mearly an example of an FM Transmitter that is TOO powerful.

    FM Transmitters which can be used also by sirius radio users, may also interfere with fm radio signals in other cars. While I doubt this is powerful enough to compete with a real RM station, imagine for a second that I am driving near you on a highway, listening to my Sirius radio through an FM Modulated signal on a radio station that doesnt really exist. Now, imagine that you click the scan button on your radio, BOOM, there you are listening to my FM signal because my transmitter is too powerful, and you hear sirius.

    Then you decide sirius is great, and go buy one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Jeff, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 3:03pm


    I use the Transpod for my ipod. Over the last 6-8 months I started to notice that my transmission gets full of static. I contributed this to more people using FM transmitters in their cars. I personally only listen to FM in the time it takes me to get ready for work after that I use my ipod. There was one time I was sitting at a stop light and the tranmission was coming in totally clear. As a car came up on my right side the transmission started to get full of static until it totally came in clear to some kind of music I didn't like. I looked to my right and the person was singing to the song coming over my radio. I could only assume they were using a FM transmitter as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 4:01pm

    I guess they finally figured it out..

    I've been holding onto this for a while so now is probably the time to release it.

    About 18 years ago I was half-heartedly chatting with a friend about how I'd love to build a pirate radio station but I was afraid of getting caught. He already had his Masters in electrical engineering(I was then working on my bachelors) and told me very quietly that the way not to get caught was to keep the signal levels down and to have a LOT of them. I didn't understand this at first so he said one word that made it click: Repeaters.

    The deal is to have one low power transmitter among a million repeaters that way triangulation doesn't work; signals come from everywhere and while they could kill individual repeaters, they would have an incredibly hard time finding the original signal. He said to spread the repeaters just far enough apart that each one can hear at least 2 others that are on different frequencies(so at some later time you could switch frequencies if you needed to). If you do this right you will be broadcasting on 3-5 frequencies or so.

    I never thought much of doing anything with it until I saw the nice little transmitters they have for ipods, etc. and they're CHEAP. The only mods you have to do really is put a larger antenna on them(if you've ever taken one apart you know the antenna runs back through the headphone connector wire but doesn't actually connect to the headphone jack itself), a mini FM radio to pickup the signal, and a small solar cell to keep a charge. You can add other stuff like a small amplifier so you can get about a 1/4 mile out of each transmitter, and, if you're good, switches that turn all of the transmitters off/on when you transmit a set frequency which will do wonders for power consumption and stealth.

    I've NOT used these in this capacity but it's not to say I haven't done my share of design and engineering to make it so that in case of something idiotic like martial law, I'd be ready to transmit my message.

    Pump Up the Volume!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Myself, Apr 29th, 2006 @ 12:03am

    I have this problem constantly...

    Most of my favorite stations are fringe in my area. WDET has crap for daytime programming and WUOM has taken to running the news-trash "Day to Day" noontime show. Ugh. So that leaves me with WRCJ, WEMU, or WKAR for daytime radio. Unfortunately, only WRCJ's signal is actually strong enough to be considered "good" in my area. The others I have no trouble with, courtesy of a factory-installed preamp on my Toyota's antenna.

    Unless I'm on the road.

    Going down the highway, I'm fine if I'm alone, but approximately one out of every dozen cars is splattering signal all over my favorite station. As far as they knew, it was an "off station" when they set the transmitter, but that's only because their receiver sucks. Or because they set it at home and they've now driven 50 miles to an area where that frequency is in use.

    It's a mess, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of their little "micropower" modulators are in fact spewing way more power than they're allowed. It makes sense for them: Fewer installation glitches, fewer complaints, happier customers. The FCC is supposed to prevent this tragedy of the commons, so let's hope some more thorough review of modulator power levels is conducted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2006 @ 12:07am

    I wish AM/FM would just die a slow death and STFU already.

    I bought Sirius Radio and have not listened to free radio a day since. There is just no comparison. Once you go satellite, you will NEVER, EVER, EVER go back to free radio.

    Fuck free radio and the corporate greed that has ruined it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    The Sane One, Apr 29th, 2006 @ 5:05am

    FU Corps???

    Um, for those of you who are going to satellite radio for the "freedom" it brings you, getting you out of the slavery of FM/AM, may I remind you that:

    a:) XM/Sirius ARE corporations that are filled with JUST as much "corporate greed" as AM/FM conglomerates.

    b:) XM has gotten into bed w/ClearChannel and will be offering their evil commercial filled programs on YOUR satellite radio.

    So maybe YOU should STFU already!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    The Sane One, Apr 29th, 2006 @ 5:05am

    FU Corps???

    Um, for those of you who are going to satellite radio for the "freedom" it brings you, getting you out of the slavery of FM/AM, may I remind you that:

    a:) XM/Sirius ARE corporations that are filled with JUST as much "corporate greed" as AM/FM conglomerates.

    b:) XM has gotten into bed w/ClearChannel and will be offering their evil commercial filled programs on YOUR satellite radio.

    So maybe YOU should STFU already!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Justin, Apr 30th, 2006 @ 9:28am

    RE: FU Corps???

    Don't forget that "cable TV" wasn't going to have commercials either.

    I have XM. But I know it'll have commercials in due time.

    I just hope they don't let the Lables force content on them like local stations.l

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Steve From Yellowstone, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Ramone, Howard has AIDS. take him off my FM radio, along with his god awful radio

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    frank, Jun 27th, 2006 @ 4:55am

    88.1 interference

    I drive the atlantic city expressway everyday from exit 7 to the end. I try to listen to 88.1 but most of the time I hear stern. It totally blocks the public radio signal. Some cars have on dash radios (sirius) the send the signal 4 car lengths or better in either direction. When stern was on wysp in philly i would tune in see what the topic was. If I liked it uIstayed with it, if not .... seems like the same show . I must admit, i have driven behind a car for a distance if I liked the talk!
    Hey, who turns down something for free!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    What you won't admit, Dec 11th, 2006 @ 4:21pm


    I too have had the 'issue' of radio overlap. I have had Sirius since 12/05. Only in the more recent months have I encountered the occasional interference of someone elses radio.

    I opted not to 'hard wire' my radio into my car. I like the freedom of being able to install/reinstall to what ever car I need. Instead, I have fed the car-kit antennae through the crevaces of my car and play it throught the FM radio (in las vegas i use 88.9 FM).

    Sometimes when I am driving around, i will pick up someone elses broadcast, what i assume is another satellite radio feed. It seems that my feed ALWAYS gets cancelled out if another broadcast(that i know of?) is near. It's only happened a handful of times, but it makes me laugh to think that if other radios can cancel out my feed, than i am also blissfully unaware of this occurance happening to someonelse on my part! Can you imagine a little old lady driving around and all of a sudden she catches my feed, which happeneds to be the Howard Stern show, where he has a pornstar/celebrity on the Sibian? Classic!

    Long live the Howard Stern Show! Down with the haters! And to all who like to rant on and on and on about how he is horrible, gross, and unintelligent; If his show is so repulsive and demeaning, why spend so much time telling people so? It only puts him on peoples minds and just builds the buzz. He is great and has succeded because he does not 'pull in the reigns'. People flock to this; kind of a like a guilty pleasure. Why do you think that tabloids succeed? it's the dirt! Why do you see only the 'bad/tragic' stories as cliff-hangers held until the end of a broadcast on the news? It's because people will stick around 'til the end to see it.

    The Howard Stern Show is a 5-6 hour show that hits on many interesting topics, but only the scandalous ones are focused upon by those who are nit-picking and obviously have no ability to take things lightly or in stride, and have no sense of maturity or humor to understand what they are hearing is just pure entertainment and the opinions of the Howard Stern Show staff. Honestly, can anyone REALLY talk about Sex and Defication for 5-6 hours? no; thats not what the show is all about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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