AM/LW Radio

AM, which stands for amplitude modulation, is the oldest radio system in use in the UK.  The term 'AM' is commonly used to cover both the medium wave (MW) and long wave (LW) bands.


AM has the advantage that reception is straightforward and no external aerials are needed.  Also, you can usually get some form of signal no matter where in the UK you live.  However, there are  no of issues with AM radio:

  • Quality of reception can vary between the day and night. Night-time reception can be severely affected by fading and overseas interference.
  • There is no stereo sound, and the ultimate sound quality is much lower than on FM or digital radio.
  • AM doesn't allow for additional services such as programme information or traffic news.
  • AM reception in cars is often affected by crackling due to poor engine suppression, faulty earthing or interference from power lines etc.

Most AM services are now being duplicated on DAB digital radio. It is likely that AM broadcasting in the UK will cease at some point in the future to be determined by the Government, though no date has yet been given.

AM Transmitters (Radio 5 Live on MW, Radio 4 on MW and LW)

This PDF lists the AM transmitters situated around the UK. To see a full list of all the BBC AM/LW radio transmitters and frequencies visit the Reception Advice website radio section.


Frequently Asked Questions

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