A Few Notes on Recent Static, Poor Reception

-by Timothy Dennis

Winter weather has been wreaking havoc on area streets and school schedules. And the cold weather and wintry precipitation has also had a significant impact on operations here at KUAF.

If you haven’t been able to pick up our over the air HD signals during the past week or at different times throughout the winter, the problem isn’t with your radio. Our transmitter is on a tower in southeast Washington County at about 2,125 feet elevation. While weather on a given day may be favorable in Fayetteville or Bentonville, the conditions could be dramatically different at our tower site.

When wintry precipitation, or even fog with freezing temperatures, moves in on our tower site, that moisture tends to freeze on the antenna that beams our HD signals over the air, and that ice reflects power back to the transmitter. Normally, that reflected power would overheat and destroy the equipment, but the transmitter is designed to shut itself down if it detects too much reflected power, which is why our over-the-air signals for KUAF 2 and KUAF 3 have been off-air intermittently throughout the winter. Similarly, our FM transmitter automatically reduces its power if reflected power is detected, resulting in static and poor coverage in areas that would normally receive a crystal clear signal.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to prevent winter weather from affecting our transmitter site. However, in the event of any transmitter malfunction, there are a number of ways to listen to our programming.

  • If you have an iPhone, you can listen to any of our three program streams through the KUAF app, and on Android, you can listen on the NPR News app.

  • Internet or Wi-Fi connected radios should also be unaffected by any weather-incurred problems at our transmitter.

  • And, you can always listen to our Internet streams from the pop-out player here on our website, or you can download the streams to your computer and listen through Windows Media Player, iTunes or many other audio playback programs for PC or Macintosh.

For more information on the different ways to listen to our programming, click here.

Also,help us better serve you with our HD programming by telling us how you listen. Do you pick up our over-the air signal, or do you mainly tune in through our Internet streams? Let us know by sending an email to kuafinfo@uark.edu.