How Can I Best Listen To WSQX?

Aug 8, 2016

As the popularity of its news/talk programming grows, more people are trying out WSQX.  For example, the number of folks listening-in via our website has nearly doubled this year.  Plus, increasingly we hear from frustrated listeners in Elmira, Oneonta and even Ithaca who want access to WSQX.

That is a problem.  Only two full powered transmitters carry WSQX; 91.5FM in Binghamton and 88.1FM in Greene.  There are low powered transmitters (known as translators and repeaters) at 90.7FM in Corning and Ithaca at 92.1FM.  However, it can be hard, even within those communities, to get a good signal.

WSKG Public Media is doing its best to improve those signals, but many of those improvements are expensive, they require Federal Communications Commission approval and they may take years to complete.  

 In the meantime, here are some suggestions that might help you access WSQX:

 The WSQX broadcast might already be available in your community, but as an “HD” signal.  Thanks to digital technology, a single radio station can now broadcast two or three programs at the same time.  

 Here's how it works: Suppose your favorite radio station is 89.3 FM. When you tune in, you pick up the regular broadcast…classical music. Your HD Radio receiver indicates that the station is multicasting. You turn a dial to select the alternate channel, where they play nothing but the news.

 WSQX Radio already has that capability in several communities.  Here’s a list of frequencies:

89.3fm   Binghamton (HD radio: WSQX is heard on HD2)

91.1fm   Corning, Elmira (HD radio: WSQX is heard on HD2)

88.7fm   Hornell (HD radio: WSQX is heard on HD2)

90.9fm   Ithaca (HD radio: WSQX is heard on HD2)

 So, to hear these programs, an “HD Radio” is needed.  That means you might need to buy such a radio and they can range in cost from $50 to $5000.  Also, be careful when buying one. Clerks at big box stores or online retailers often confuse HD Radios with other digital radios, such as satellite radios.

 Many new car radios come equipped with HD Radios and maybe you have one.  If so, you’re set. However, retrofitting a car with an HD Radio can be expensive.  

 For many folks, listening to the WSQX radio stream is the best option. There are several ways to access that signal.

 1) Using an internet browser, simply go to  Atop the page, you’ll see three choices, WSKG, WSQX and WIOX.  Click the triangle button for the station you desire.  If your speakers are on and turned up, you should hear our programming.

 By the way, we recommend the website, rather than the site.  Our streams are available on both sites, but the news site uses NPR’s new “persistent player,” which offers a better listening experience.

 2) You might want to try smartphone apps like “TuneIn.”   They allow you to search and play specific stations.  Your smartphone can then be linked, either by wire or Bluetooth, to tabletop speakers and car stereos.  Many of these apps are designed to minimize the amount of data they consume.  Still, they can be a data suck, and this technique might increase the price you pay your cell phone provider for data. 

 If you have an old smartphone that still has access to wireless internet, turning it into a tabletop radio is quite easy.  Apps like “TuneIn” can easily convert that old phone into a clock radio.

 3) Many newer vehicles now offer “carputers.”  If your car has “carputer” (computer monitor), instead of a radio, most have apps that provide access to radio streams. 

 You may also find that by relying on the internet, you’ll enjoy a more stable signal over a greater geographic area than a traditional radio broadcast.

 Of course, the simplest option for many people remains an old fashioned radio, and some are better than others.  When buying a radio, check out its “dBf.”  An FM sensitivity of 8 to 12 dBf is considered very good. Radios with a low FM sensitivity do a better job of pulling in radio signals. 

 Some stereos use digital processing to clean up the analog radio signal, so the program is clear and free of static. Be sure to look for this detail in the stereo's description if a better-than-most AM/FM radio is high on your list.

 Also, give some thought to antennas; they can make a big difference.  Antennas are why car radios pick up more stations than a desktop model.  Buy a radio that already has a telescoping antenna.  Don’t forget to install the antenna on a new radio, if one’s included in the box.  If your old radio has a pair of screws or some other input on the back labeled “antenna,” consider finding an antenna for it.  

 Unfortunately, for many listeners, you may need to work at it if you want to hear WSQX.  But if you do the groundwork, we promise the programming will make it worth your effort.