My mother, as I mentioned before, lives in a remote part of western Montana: the Seeley-Swan Valley. This 80-mile-long valley is between two massive mountain ranges, the Missions and the Swans, and two federally-designated wilderness areas, the Bob Marshall and the Mission Mountains.
There’s no cell phone, cable television or radio reception. Land lines, dial-up, and satellite dishes are how the residents keep in contact with the outside world. Mom’s long been frustrated with her inability to listen to NPR at home. She’s unable to get it on either her stereo or car radio. Her dial-up Internet connection is painfully slow, so she doesn’t bother streaming or downloading programs.
Thanks to her new neighbor, she found out how to make her own FM antenna. The two of us spent the better part of yesterday purchasing the supplies and building it. Unfortunately, we didn’t buy all the necessary equipment. The shortwave radio she purchased was made in Germany. We didn’t realize it needed a special adapter to attach it to an American co-ax transformer until we were nearly finished.
Rather than throw up our hands in frustration (okay, there were a few muttered curses), we put our little project to one side and turned on the Grundig just to point it in the direction of the Montana Public Radio transmitter in Kalispell, 60 miles away as the crow flies. I fully extended its antenna, swiveled it north and west, and guess what? The signal was crystal clear.