How to Get a Local FM Radio on a TV Antenna
By Fred Decker
The frequencies used for FM radio transmission are very close to those used for VHF television signals, and an ordinary TV antenna will work beautifully with your FM radio or your stereo tuner. You can use either an indoor or outdoor antenna, though the outdoor variety often provides better reception. Both types will connect and work in the same way. If you no longer use your antenna for TV, connect it directly to your radio, otherwise you'll need to use a splitter.
Look at the back of your radio or stereo to see what connection it offers for an FM antenna. Some have a pair of screw terminals, and others use the same threaded F-connector used for cable TV. Either one will work fine, though you may need an adaptor, depending on your antenna.
Measure the distance from your antenna to your radio or your stereo receiver, leaving some additional length for routing the wire around obstacles. Purchase a length of antenna wire that reaches this distance. Most antennas have screw terminals intended for flat, two-strand antenna wire. If you'd rather use shielded coaxial cable, purchase an adaptor at an electronics store.
Loosen the screws on the outdoor antenna's terminals, attach the antenna wire or coaxial adaptor and re-tighten the screws. Feed the wire into your house through a vent, the soffits or a newly-drilled hole in your wall. If you drill a hole, weatherproof it with caulking. Run the wire to the room containing your stereo or FM radio.
Connect the antenna wire to the antenna terminals on your stereo. Flat 300-ohm antenna wire attaches directly to screw terminals, and round coaxial cable attaches directly to a cable-style F-connector. If necessary, use an adaptor to go from one type of wire to the other type of connector.
Turn on your radio and test its FM reception. Signals are directional, so adjust the antenna to pick up a specific station adequately.
Shared With TV
Unscrew your antenna wire from the back of the TV set or from a set-top box or DVD recorder, if that's where your antenna connects. Older televisions might have a pair of screw terminals, but most have the threaded cable-type F-connector.
Connect the incoming antenna wire to a two-way signal splitter. If you're using flat-lead wire, use an adaptor to convert it to coaxial cable and use a standard cable splitter. Attach one new cable to the splitter and run it from there to your TV or set-top box and reconnect it. Attach another to the splitter's second output and run it to your FM radio or your stereo receiver.
Thread the end of the cable onto your radio or stereo's FM antenna input or use an adaptor to convert back to screw terminals. Turn on your stereo and check the reception on your preferred stations. Adjust the direction of your antenna to find a compromise, if needed, between TV and FM radio reception.
- Although your television signal passes through the wire as an electrical impulse, it's too small to pose a shock hazard. You won't need to unplug or turn off the TV or radio, but you should turn the volume to zero to prevent any risk of damaging the speakers while you're connecting to your antenna.
- If your TV and radio both have screw terminals for twin-lead wire, this type of splitter is more difficult to find. If your equipment has cable-type connectors, use a standard cable splitter and buy adaptors to convert your twin-lead wire to coaxial.
- If your antenna is amplified, or if you use an inline signal amplifier, radio stations may sound very noisy and irregular. Switch the amplifier off, and see if the sound improves. Amplifiers work well for bringing in weak signals, but can make an already-good signal distorted and unlistenable.
- Some TV antennas and antenna amplifiers have a circuit called an FM trap. This filters out FM signals, which can sometimes interfere with your TV picture. Switch the trap off, if you want to use your antenna to pick up radio signals.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.