You may be just the right height for the station’s signal.
Dear Matthew Alice: I listen to jazz on my radio at work, and in order to get a clear broadcast signal, I have to hold the radio cord in my hand. Is there some scientific reason for this, or is my radio just lonely? — Nonut Devi Dasa, University Heights
I’m trying to imagine what you do for a living that leaves one hand free at all times to hold your radio’s power cord. How about trying this. Lift up the cord and hook it over something or tape it to your wall. That might solve the weak-signal problem and free you to pursue two-handed employment — near-unlimited vocational horizons.
Radio signals aren’t so very different from household current, and the electrical wires in your radio’s cord make a pretty good receiver antenna. (The first portable telephones used household wiring for their antennas.) But the cord’s even more efficient when you clamp yourself onto it, since your body conducts radio waves pretty well too, the same way it conducts electricity. In essence, you become part of the antenna system. And can I assume you’re vertical when you’re hooked to the cord (what do you do for a living)? This is a good orientation for gathering in FM transmissions, better than horizontal, anyway. And your height may also be a factor. An efficient FM antenna is generally some even fraction or even multiple of the wavelength of the transmission. You may be just the right height for the station’s signal. Close enough for jazz, anyway.