You Can Hear FM Stations From 1000 Miles Away

During the summer, it is possible to hear FM stations (and also VHF channels 2-6) that are 1000 miles away using pretty much any FM radio!

From May 15 - August 15, the E layer of ionosphere will sporadically achieve a high enough level of ionization so that higher frequency signals (low VHF and FM) will bounce off the E-layer back to Earth, instead of going out into space.

This condition is rare. It is most likely that you will notice it on TV channel 2, because lower frequencies bounce back to earth with less ionization. During the course of the typical summer, I only get E-Skip twice, generally for a period of 1-3 hours.

You can hear E-Skip on pretty much any half-decent radio. E-Skip signals tend to vary from nothing to very strong and can go up and down in strength a lot.

It helps to have a digital radio with memories, good selectivity (rejection of adjacent stations), sensitivity, and a decent antenna (like a dipole or yagi).

The best way to learn if there are E-Skip openings is to visit the TVFM log where radio enthusiats track what stations they have heard.

Or you can familiarize yourself with what stations you normally hear, and then tune (using memories if you have them) several traditionally empty channels in the low-end of the FM band (88-92 mhz) until you hear something.

To figure out what station you have heard, you can use the MIT radio locator which has a complete database of FM and AM stations.

Generally E-Skip stations will come from 600-1400 miles away.

If you are hearing stations from 100-400 miles away, you are most likely experiencing a condition called Troposheric Enghancement or Tropospheric Ducting. These conditions are produced when the weather is hot and humid, especially in the night when it is cooling down.

A radio enthusiast runs an excellent site that predicts when troposheric reception will be the best.

While living in Philadelphia, with tropo reception I often hear FM stations from Norfolk, VA (220 miles) where much of the path is over water which helps. I have heard one station from North Carolina, and a station from Nantucket, MA (an island off the coast of MA - also mostly over water).

With E-Skip, from Philadelphia I've heard stations from TX, SD, KS, OK, IA, AR, MO, FL, AL, MS, and MI.

Of course this is nothing compared to Receiving TV Stations from the Moon

Summer 2004 Troposheric Ducts

Last week or so there were decent FM openings from Philadelphia along the coast/over water. There was a nice northeast opening to NYC, CT, and Cape Cod (MA!) which allowed me to log six or so new stations, and also a more common opening to Norfolk, Virginia.