1. Billings, Oklahoma
Billings is a rural radio site in north central Oklahoma. The site is based at the Cimarron Travel Plaza 6 miles east of the town of 500 and has an elevation just shy of 1,000 feet. It locally lies 75 miles due south of Wichita and 60 miles north of Oklahoma City. In addition, Billings is 210 miles southwest of Kansas City, 180 miles northwest of Fort Smith, 260 miles northeast of Amarillo, and 230-280 miles north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
I visited Billings for the night and decided to see what the band held for me. Nighttime enhancement by radiation inversion in the area spanned from the Ozarks of Arkansas in the east, Dallas and Wichita Falls in the south, northern Kansas in the north, and southwest and central Kansas to the west, a distance of generally 200 miles in all directions with additional enhancement seemingly quite common to the south. Despite the longer distances, the band averaged a distance of just 88 miles, which is typical for many locations.
The scan was performed over the course of 3 hours in the evening with a later comparison for accuracy in the morning on a Volvo VNL 760 factory radio with a 13-foot high whip antenna.
2. Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Black River Falls is an inland radio site in western Wisconsin. The site is based at Bell Mound Scenic Overlook at the end of a 550-foot boardwalk and half-mile trail starting at the Jackson Co. Rest Area along I-94. Off the trail, hiking up to the top of Bell Mound adds an additional 125 feet of elevation totaling about 200 feet above the surrounding terrain and providing a great view of the land below and plenty to hear on the radio.
The site is 50 miles southeast of Eau Claire, 120 miles southeast of Twin Cities, 70 miles southwest of Wausau, 40 miles northeast of La Crosse, 100 miles northwest of Madison, and 180 miles southeast of Duluth. Typical reception at this site spans an area from Duluth in the north, Twin Cities and south central Minnesota in the west, Des Moines to the southwest, Cedar Rapids to the south, Madison to the southeast, and the western Upper Peninsula to the northwest. Milwaukee stations, primarily WMYX, are received here intermittently.
As this was a common stopping point for me while driving through here often for work, I had the chance to monitor the band here quite commonly. If you’re ever passing through the area, take a short walk to the overlook. And then jump over the railing beside you and take the momentary walk to the top of Bell Mound. Be prepared with good shoes and mosquito spray. While you don’t necessarily need either, you’ll be happy you brought them.
3. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Carrollton is a radio site in the north suburban Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The site was a temporary visit for work and a rather quick bandscan of just a half-hour, but at the same time, there were few stations to be heard. Most of the stations that were heard – except on the few open frequencies – all originated from within a short distance.
The scan is a basic scan done on a Volvo VNL 760 factory radio with a 13-foot high whip antenna and should generally depict the FM band as heard in a home or driving around this part of the metro area.
4. Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a radio site in the High Plains region of southwestern Kansas. The city is known for its vibrant Wild West history and long-time beef industry, both of which are quite obvious upon just driving into town. The city of 28,000 is home to many attractions, perhaps the most popular being the Boot Hill Museum, well worth the visit! I managed to be stranded in town for two days for work and made the best of it by taking a 15-mile walk in the 95° heat, exploring the city’s sights, and getting a good feel for the local dial. The band was monitored both day and night with differing weather conditions on my Volvo VNL 760 factory radio with a 13-foot high whip antenna.
Dodge City is in a sparsely populated region 140 miles west of Wichita, 300 miles southwest of Kansas City, 200 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, 200 miles northeast of Amarillo, and 280 miles southeast of Denver. Typical reception here leans toward the Wichita and Tulsa areas, perhaps due to the higher elevation in Dodge City, which continues to rise to the west. It seemed that while stations would butt up against the Colorado and New Mexico borders, reception never made it to either state. In fact, all but a single station originated from either Kansas or Oklahoma.
5. Florence (Cincinnati), Kentucky
Florence is a radio site in south suburban Cincinnati, 10 miles southwest of downtown. It is my home base in this region of the country, a place where I have visited and stayed numerous times. As it is an urban environment, there are a number of stations and plenty of interference, yet still the possibility of hearing stations from afar.
Florence is 90 miles southeast of Indianapolis, 70 miles northeast of Louisville, 65 miles north of Lexington, 165 miles northwest of Charleston, and 100 miles southwest of Columbus. Both Cincinnati (the primary market) and Dayton, 50 miles to the northeast, are local radio markets here; there are few stations heard from outside these markets aside from Lexington and Louisville on otherwise open frequencies.
6. Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence is a radio site in northeast Kansas between Kansas City and Topeka. The city is a college town home to Kansas University. It lies locally 20 miles west of suburban Kansas City and 20 miles east of Topeka, as well as 135 miles northeast of Wichita, and 155 miles southeast of Omaha.
I visited Lawrence in the spring of 2009. Despite its location on primarily flat land, reception was quite abysmal. As it is quite close to Kansas City, there was a lot of urban interference, but there were few other stations from outside the area to be heard over the course of a few days. With an average reception distance of just 36 miles, it matches many large urban centres. As I regularly passed through the area for work in 2017, I can say the situation has changed, but only with the recent addition of translators, similar to the situation across much of the U.S.
7. Newberry, South Carolina
Newberry is a radio site in the Midlands region of South Carolina. Reception here was monitored on a Volvo VNL 760 factory radio with a 13-foot high antenna over the course of two days, both day and night. Newberry is locally just 30 miles northwest of Columbia and 50 miles southeast of the Spartanburg and Greenville area. In addition, it lies 70 miles southwest of Charlotte, 130 miles northwest of Charleston, 150 miles north of Savannah, and 150 miles east of Atlanta.
The site generally includes reception from Charleston and Savannah to the south, Macon and suburban Atlanta to the west, and Charlotte and Asheville to the north, with scattered reception to the east. Stations to the south are greatly enhanced here over those from other directions. With that trend, coastal Florida reception is also possible with one coastal signal pulled in from 400+ miles here.
8. Twin Cities, Minnesota
The Twin Cities radio site encompasses the metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota as heard from southeast suburban Inver Grove Heights, 11 miles south of downtown St. Paul and 17 miles southeast of downtown Minneapolis.
Because this area is saturated with low-power stations and translators, reception here is unsatisfactory, even with added elevation. While 92 stations could be heard at this location, the average distance of reception was only 39 miles, barely enough to cross the metro area. No stations were received in excess of 100 miles. Typical reception here ranges from St. Cloud, Willmar, and Mankato on the west side of the metro area to Eau Claire and Rice Lake on the east side.
9. West Unity, Ohio
West Unity is a radio site at the Ohio Turnpike’s Indian Meadow Service Plaza in far northwest Ohio. This bandscan was taken on a summer night monitoring regular reception as heard here at night. The scan was taken with a Volvo VNL 760 factory radio with a 13-foot high omni-directional whip antenna.
West Unity surrounded by radio markets on all side: it is 40 miles west of Toledo, 45 miles northeast of Fort Wayne, 90 miles east of South Bend, 70 miles southeast of Kalamazoo, 75 miles south of Lansing, and 70 miles southwest of Detroit. With numerous locals, the average distance of reception here – even at night – is a very low 52 miles, far below average for an area with such overall flat terrain. Only the reception of two stations at this location exceeded 100 miles.