Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Can Hear Music!!! Finally.

Ever have something drive you completely nuts, and know that the feeling only gets worse as you accept the reality that there is nothing you can to to make it better?

Fortunately, those situations are few, but there is nagging one that has affected me for  years:  the lack of good radio reception in Sturbridge.


Sorry.  Had to get that out.

It started so innocently.  I listen to WBZ in my car, during my commute, for the traffic reports, and the latest news.  Nice to know if the roads are blocked due to an alien invasion, or hurricane, and what roads I need to to take to avoid the mess.  "BZ and I have been partners since I was a kid.  Inseparable, except on Route 20 in front of the Information Center across from Country Curtains.

For about 1/4 mile, from just before the information center to around Cedar Street WBZ is impossible to hear.  In fact, no AM radio station is without interference, and distortion.  Some form of electrical interference I imagine.  I wrote to the FCC a few years ago, and they wrote back and told me to contact the radio stations and tell them about it so they can fix it.

Really.  That was their solution.  So, instead of investigating some rogue high powered pirate radio station broadcasting out of the woods here in town, they want me call all the radio stations within a hundred miles and let them know their broadcast is broken in Sturbridge.

I'll get right on it.

Electrical interference is one thing that affects radio reception that can be solved if the source is identified, but overall bad reception is something those of us have here in Central Mass is due to the topography.

Mountains and hills block radio signals, and valleys hide radios from the signals, as well.

Over time, I have learned to live with the inconvenience.  I do have a large antennae attached to my Bose radio in the bedroom. I taped it to the back of my chest of drawers, and it faces in the general direction of the smooth jazz station I listen to at night.  Works great.

Mary, on the other hand, has always enjoyed listening to the radio when she is getting ready for work in the morning.  The radio she uses is a dial type radio, and the reception is not very good, and when it is OK, it soon drifts away.  Most of the rooms in the house are like this.

Well, when I found out that something as simple as not being able to listen to the radio in the morning to get the news, traffic, and weather for the day can make my other half unhappy, I was determined to fix it.  It was not only the right thing to do, but an unhappy spouse makes for a chilly house.

After messing around with the antennae, repositioning the radio, and doing some online research about how to improve radio reception, I finally figured it out, and we went to Best Buy the other day, and bought an internet radio.

It is awesome.  It really is.  Now, our reception is perfect.  Instead of receiving a broadcast over the air as a regular radio does, an internet radio receives it over the internet.  You can either connect directly to  the modem you use to receive your internet service with a cable, or connect to the modem via wi-fi, and truly receive your signal over the airwaves.  If you use wi-fi, like we do, then you also aren't restricted by the connecting cable, and the radio can go anywhere in your home.  This is the best way.

Not only is the reception flawless, but we are not just limited to local radio stations, either.  Of course, we can receive WSRS in Worcester,but now we can receive any radio station that is streamed onto the internet from anywhere in the world!

Do you miss your hometown radio station back in Dallas, or Seattle?  Not a problem.  Just tune them in, and Voila!  you are back home again.  Radio stations in Dublin, Ireland, or Tokyo, Paris, or Cape Town are all out there for you.  Interesting thing is, that most of the Pop 40 stations around the world all play the same music, they just announce the songs with an accent.

The Logitech Squeezebox radio we bought also lets us listen to satellite radio if we were subscribers, listen to our music collection from our computer, or MP3 player, and display our own photographs as a slideshow as the music plays.

I really like this gadget.  Not only did it solve our problem, but is so cool.  If you would like to check out the reception in Sturbridge, or anywhere else in the country, for yourself, click here.

In the meantime, another problem solved in Sturbridge.


  1. My now husband bought me one of these just weeks after I moved in with him in Sturbridge because I was going through NPR withdrawls. We are all so much happier now.

  2. Wow! Listening to radio on the computer is great, but having an internet radio to take anywhere in the house is FABULOUS! Thanks!

  3. I often go by this area that you speak of as my residence is up Cedar Street. As an electrical engineer by trade and an audio hobbiest, I can tell you that what you're hearing in that area is not a result of poor reception. The signal strength of WBZ might contribute a bit, but as you noticed within a block or two, the interferrence disappears completely. I think the noise you're hearing is some sort of data transmission, perhaps leaking from a cable in the vicinity of the pumping station near the Visitor Center. I also thought that perhaps the signal is being sent out on the utility or phone lines, and is leaking out somewhere. Whatever it is, it violates thee FCC guidelines for spurious signals. You should notify them again, this time explaining what king of noise you're hearing. It's not static, but distinct tone typical with a data transmission. A recoding of the interferrence can help greatly too


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