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You've been there. Listening to the radio in your car, taking in interesting news, excited to hear what the radio host might say to the next caller, or feeling the tension of a close baseball game. And then you get home, or arrive at work. You know it will take just a couple minutes to get inside and turn on the radio, so you wait for the station break or the end of an inning to make your move. Finally, you're inside and out of breath from running to your radio. You turn it on, tune in the station, and... huh? What happened? The reception is terrible! The signal was clean and clear in the car, but it fades in and out inside. Or it's full of static. Or it's just plain gone. You wonder if something is wrong with your radio, if the antenna is broken, or if the tuner isn't precise enough. Maybe you grab your keys and decide to go back out to your car, catch the rest of the program or the game there. Why does this happen?
Though it may seem sometimes like your car radio is better than any other radio you own, it's not really such an exceptional receiver. The small whip antenna on your car actually combines with the car's metal body to produce the affects of a much larger antenna. Your car radio is also specifically tuned for the coaxial feedline and whip antenna to give you the best reception for a small antenna. You can test the sensitivity of your car's whip antenna by tuning your radio to a weak AM station and touching the whip antenna with your hand. You'll hear a lot of static and noise coming from all the atmospheric electrical noises bombarding the radio's sensitive amplifiers.
Two of the most common problems related to poor AM reception are radio noise interference, and weak AM reception. If you are dealing with a radio noise and interference problem, you'll probably notice that your radio gets noise on AM but not on FM. That's because AM transmits on a very low frequency compared to FM, and AM is more susceptible to the radio-made noise from almost every electronic device within the vicinity.