January 24, 2007

Verizon Solves My WBIX Radio Woes

It looks like a happy ending to my WBIX interference problem - no thanks to the radio station. Verizon sent two techs to our house this morning and put a great filter on the line coming into the house. That seems to have solved our problem! I made a couple of calls this morning, and could barely hear the WBIX signal anymore. I've got daytime phone service again!

Interestingly, though, one of the techs told me that they've been getting calls from all over town recently about the same problem. I'm not alone in having this issue.

I don't know whether the interference problems are being caused by a specific issue with the WBIX signal, or simply unshielded equipment on the part of us unfortunate homeowners getting WBIX in our phones. Now that my own problem has been solved, though, I'm still concerned that we may have a station in town running major-station power yet is unresponsive to its neighbors. I never heard back from anyone at the station. I never even got to leave voice mail after choosing the option "if you're experiencing interference" after calling the local number on their Web site.

According to one Internet site, WBIX recently increased their signal to 40,000 watts of power. If that's true, that's a significant amount of power in the midst of a residential area, and the station should be prepared to deal with neighbors who are affected. To have an automated phone answering system that instructs people to press 8 if they're having interference problems, and then sends the caller to an endlessly ringing phone (no one to answer it, not even voice mail), is not acceptable. Anyone in the broadcasting business should know that after you boost power, there are likely to be interference issues no matter how clean your signal. Even if your station is not at fault, you have a good-corporate-citizen obligation to talk to the people you're affecting and educate them, helping them solve the problem.

As an amateur radio operator, I happen to know there are things that can be done on my end to deal with what's called "RFI," regardless of whether the problem is improper shielding in my home or a bad signal that's causing the interference. But not everyone knows that. I'm also fortunate that Verizon was so responsive to my situation. But there's still an important issue here: If you're a radio station running major-station power in our community, be a good citizen and give us the courtesy of having someone locally on site to respond to our concerns. Update: A WBIX engineer did call me Thursday, four days after my initial call to the station. He did seem willing to try to help fix the problem, although thankfully Verizon has already solved it.


  1. Hi, Sharon. Have you talked to the FCC about this? What did they say?

    They need to be told that the station is causing a widespread problem. The burden shouldn't be falling on Verizon and its customers to fix it.

  2. I haven't yet, but I am likely going to send a letter outlining what happened.