BBC Radio 4 (long wave)

  Diemmess 12:19 PM 13 Dec 09

This is an analogue problem!
Radio 4 LW IS the Beeb to me from long long ago 'till today.

Wherever I have lived in the midlands area the signal has been at least good and in places better than any other in the broadcast bands... until the last year or two.

Now, nearly every radio in the house on 199KHz, has a background noise like a mixed squiggle and hiss.

There are two exceptions.
One is a truly old germainium transistor set with AM MW and LW. Careful alignment for best signal strength will work on this.
The other is a ten years old AOR scanner which is connected to a multiband external aerial mounted high. On this the signal strength is good and the broadcast clear. Radio 4 FM can be compared on this set and I admit I prefer to listen on this FM channel.

I believe there must have been some reduction in transmission power on the massive LW trnsmitter, but can see no sign of it by browsing the Beeb transmitter info.

I did check by turning off every appliance including the PC while listening for any improvement. It seems to me a function of signal strength and the transmitter isn't doing what it used to do.

Any ideas please?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:53 PM 13 Dec 09

Possible cause is weather conditions, the "High" we are under the moment will badly affect Long Wave transmission.

  Diemmess 14:16 PM 13 Dec 09

Fruit Bat /\0/\
In fact it may have been getting worse for a year now regardless of weather.

Beeb still claim they are pushing out 500KW
Usually long wave is less troubled than higher frequencies by meterological causes.

  amonra 19:33 PM 13 Dec 09

Time-base harmonics from TVs can cause the sort of effects you are complaining of. Not necessarily your own TV, but any neighbouring set. They can radiate for great distance, directly,and along main or telephone cables.
A good elimination test is to try reception in the early hours of the morning when hopefully most TVs have been switched off. Another big culprit of interference on LW are fluorescent tubes. Have a walk around with a portable radio and see if there are any "hot-spots". Good luck...

  morddwyd 09:14 AM 14 Dec 09

"This is an analogue problem!"

Then it's got no business in Digital World. Clear off back to steam trains and thermionic valves!

Seriously though I agree with you about R4 LW. It has long been a stable feature in an ever changing world, including usually receivable on the car radio during seven years living in Germany.

Of late though very hit and miss (Scotland). Sometimes not available at all, sometimes with the characteristic buzz of fluorescent lights, and all sorts in between.

I think it started going downhill when they changed it from metres to hertz!

  john bunyan 12:30 PM 14 Dec 09

Having listened to R4 LW in Holland for 10 years on car and home radio, I hope they keep it. I cannot understand the rush to DAB as LW and FM are quite ok at much lower power usage (how many power stations needed for DAB above FM?). Why is there no mention in UK of DRM, which, as I understand it could give good reception in place of SW (which I also have used extensivly in remote spots of the world)Hope your LW improves.

  oresome 12:43 PM 14 Dec 09

"Now, nearly every radio in the house on 199KHz, has a background noise...."

Radio 4 long wave is on 198kHz. Have you mistuned the radios?

  Diemmess 15:05 PM 14 Dec 09

I intend to have a chinwag this evening with one who before he retired, was sent all over the world for his firm meetings to discuss and reduce "pollution" from electrical appliances of every kind.

Meanwhile various posts others have added

You are correct and our radios are tuned to 198 it was a mental slip because once it used to be 200KHz.

john bunyan and morddwyd
As a teenager with a then hobby of cobbling various radios and amplifiers, (I have forgotten most of it, but it comes back)!
The Light Progamme was a snip for basic tuning of a new masterpiece and came booming in on the least likely of my constructions.
Much later on a summer evening just inland and above St Tropez, we could hear Radio 4 after about 2300.

Thanks for those thoughts, the terminology is new to me but I think you may be right. My house has overhead power and 230v domestic lies within 30'

The good news is that going back to the old days, I have carefully re-aligned each and vastly improved the signal/noise ratio. (I swear it never used to be as sensitive - 5 degrees or so!)

In the past with the advent of and buying a portable FM, it was initially used just to eavesdrop on Police and Fire service calls

I did use it like a sleuth to track down a nearby cafe with an unsurpressed thermostat. No mistaking that harsh roar!

  Diemmess 09:02 AM 15 Dec 09

Two lines of thought to close this thread.

1) Simple attention to best orientation has made R4 LW a usable station once more.

2) My expert friend agrees with amonra (harmonics) as one source of interference.
There is not much that can be done, hence the current use of FM and the change to DAB.
He also said that high voltage lines with grubby insulators can cause exactly the noise I am getting.
There is a pole with a transformer on the other side of a neighbour's garden about 300' away. This is fed by an 11,000v line.
My friend says that in severe cases and in the dark, you can actually see a glow on a duff insulator. That isn't the case here, but it could be another pole down the line.
Thanks everyone for your interest and ideas.


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