Generally, Vixen 101, in common with all Community Radio stations is only licensed to transmit on low power, to serve a small tightly focused geographical area. Typically, the BBC national stations are licensed to transmit at 100,000 times the power of Vixen 101. (250,000 Watts, as opposed to 25 Watts for Vixen 101).
We can not turn up the power. Ofcom, who regulate the airwaves, ride around carrying out anonymous checks with remote monitoring equipment. They would know if we did turn up the power, and would serve us a notice to close down. This is to protect other users of the airwaves from interference. The same frequencies are used many times around the country by different broadcasters. There is another user of our frequency (101.8 MHz FM) in Dewsbury. Ofcom need to protect them from interference from us, and vice-versa.
Other local stations that you may be familiar with, who have been around for years are classed as, “Commercial Radio” operators. They are licensed under different terms to Community Radio, which is what the government and Ofcom class as the third tier of radio. The first tier being the BBC, and the second being Commercial Radio. Community Radio generally is the poor relation of other broadcasters, and end up with the worst frequencies and worst power levels.
Therefore, the best has to be made of what we have been given to work with. If you are suffering from bad reception of Vixen 101, the following information might help you.
Portable FM radios usually have a built-in telescopic aerial. For the best results extend the aerial fully and tilt and swivel it until you get the best signal. Vixen 101 transmits with vertical polarization. Roughly, this means that the radio waves go up & down, in a vertical plane rather than from side to side in a horizontal plane. So you should get better reception with an aerial that is set pointing in a vertical direction, rather than one which is horizontal. However, on a portable radio, moving the aerial in different directions sometimes improves reception.
Try moving the radio to a different position, such as near a window, or upstairs rather than downstairs. Keep the radio away from metal surfaces such as radiators and refrigerators.
Here’s a good tip. Even if your portable radio does dot have an external aerial socket, you can improve the reception, by purchasing a few metres of thin electrical wire, stripping a few inches off one end. Wrap the bare wire around the telescopic aerial, and extend the rest of the wire and attach it as high up in the room as you can get it. Keep it away from mains cables. A slightly neater solution, if you are competent, is to attach a crocodile clip to the wire and clip this to the radio’s telescopic aerial. Shops such as Wilkinson’s, Boyes, Maplin, and good local independent electrical retailers should be able to supply you with the necessary wire and clips.
Hi-fi systems with an FM tuner typically come with a wire or a T-shaped ribbon cable as an aerial. This is usually not much use, except for receiving high power national stations in high power areas close to transmitters. Unless you are in Market Weighton, or one of the villages close by, you will probably need an outside or loft aerial. In general, the higher up it is the better.
You will almost certainly need an outside aerial to receive stereo and RDS (Radio Data System information on your tuner’s display, if it supports RDS). We suggest that you have any outdoor aerial installed by a professional aerial installer registered with the CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries).
If you do want to use the supplied wire or T-shaped ribbon aerial, it must be connected securely to the correct terminals on the system, but it is unlikely to be satisfactory. Please see your manual for details.
If you get background hiss when listening in stereo, but not when you switch to mono, this is a sign that the signal is not strong enough. A separate aerial should improve the sound quality. This should be connected to the aerial socket on your radio – check first that your set has such a socket.
The simplest solution is an indoor FM aerial, available from electrical shops. However, this may not give good results for stereo so is not recommended for serious listening.
DAB (Digital Radio)
We often get asked if Vixen 101 is on DAB (Digital Radio). The answer is no.
The way DAB works, is that several radio services can be broadcast on one frequency, and hence on one transmitter, by digital encoding. Therefore, someone has to own the transmitter and rent out space on it to other stations. This is unlike on FM where everyone owns or rents their own individual transmitter for that one service. OFCOM has allocated the management of DAB (multiplexes, as they are known) transmitters to several large radio & media groups. We have approached the multiplex operator for this area. Firstly, they told us that there was no further space available on their multiplex for another station. We don’t believe them, as the multiplex operators are also involved with running their own radio services on the DAB multiplexes, and we feel that they are ring fencing their own interests. Even if there was space, the annual rental figure they quoted us is way beyond our financial means.
Beverley, Brough, Cottingham and on the A63 between Welton & Hessle
We sometimes get asked about reception in these areas. We are not officially licenced to provide a radio service to these places. However, reception in certain parts of Beverley and Brough is sometimes possible with an outdoor aerial. If you are in Beverley, the aerial needs pointing west. If you are in Brough, the aerial needs pointing north.
Due to our low power transmissions, our signal will be blocked by buildings if you are using a portable radio, or Hi-Fi stereo system with an indoor aerial, or if you are traveling around the remote areas in a car.The hills at High Hunsley and Riplingham Wold are higher than our transmitter, and block the signal between Welton & Hessle. Our transmitter is at the maximum height allowed by the terms of our licence.