Last updated May 25, 2009






Commentary on my latest round of FM listening --- 2008 onwards.

Over the past while I have become quite interested in FM broadcast listening from my car radio.  The radio in my 1999 Sable seems to be much more sensitive than that in my other vehicle.   It has been fascinating to hear stations come and go, and to learn which ones are regulars and semi-regulars.   I am no expert on FM DX.  At this point I have relied on trops or tropospheric ducting to bring me what may not be considered real DX.  I have since my start in August 2008 heard the Boston area, possibly Quebec City, and Sydney, plus many locations in between those extremes.    Most mornings when I get up early I bring up the VHF propagation map, linked on the opening page of this site.   As I write this I just saw that there looks like long distance reception happening all along the east coast of the USA, but stopping short of NS.   Now that is a frustration.    But I will go out in the car shortly and give it a try anyway.   This has got to be the cheapest but yet satisfying type of radio listening.   Next step I guess will be to buy a yagi and get it on the roof, if my wife will allow it.   The trouble is that there are not very many FM broadcast channels open to DX, what with there being over 15 stations right in Halifax plus some strong regional signals using up many of the other channels.  

This section is intended to be simply a place for me to share my list of FM stations in the Maritimes.   I try to keep my lists up to date, but stations do come and go.  I would appreciate any updates you can pass along to me.  You can also go to  and navigate to whichever of the provinces or states you want.  They keep a great set of lists on that site.


I do realize that some of you are also interested in FM dx'ing and likely have picked up stations from throughout Quebec and New England, if not farther.  I would certainly enjoy hearing about your catches, and would post lists here on the site if you like.  This is an activity that I myself would like to take up but cannot at the moment.  At the present I just enjoy tuning through the dial on my car radio and on my Grundig S350.  I find on the whole that reception on the car radio is much the superior.

In Canada there are several classes of FM broadcasters, and in most respects there are similar classifications in the US, however it is only in respect of frequency use that there is complete coordination.    Technical considerations such as frequency and power come under the jurisdiction of Industry Canada whereas the content and the need for service, or lack of it, is the area of concern of the CRTC.   In the USA the FCC does both.

Canadian classes:

Low Power FM (LPFM):  ERP in any direction limited to 50 Watts.  If the maximum 50 Watts is used, then the antenna height is limited to 60 metres.   Antenna height is measured from the centre of radiation of the antenna and (height above average terrain) HAAT is used.  HAAT is calculated by averaging terrain heights taken every metre for 5 km along 4 standard radials from the antenna (north, east, south, west).  The primary service area, as defined by a field strength test, shall not extend more than 8 km in any direction.   These stations are secondary on any frequency and may not interfere with regular stations. 

Very Low Power FM (VLPFM):   ERP of up to 10 Watts and maximum antenna height of 30 metres.  Only allowable in remote areas of Canada, and lacking other access to the Canadian broadcasting services. 

For the following classes of FM stations, the effective HAAT is calculated using 4 additional radials (NE, SE, SW, NW) at distances between 3 and 16 km.

Class A1:   50 to 250 Watts.  EHAAT maximum 100 metres.
Class A:    251 Watts to 6 kW.  EHAAT maximum 100 metres.
Class B1:  3 kW to 25 kW.   EHAAT maximum 100 metres.
Class B:    3 kW to 50 kW.   EHAAT maximum 150 metres.
Class C1:  20 Kw to 100 kW.  EHAAT maximum 300 metres.
Class C:    20 kW to 100 kW.  EHAAT maximum 600 metres.

In the case of antennas having directional characteristics, the ERP allowable is the maximum in any direction, not the average of all directions.

When stations are assigned to frequencies, there is a complicated protection policy meant to ensure that stations on the same or adjacent frequencies do not infringe on each others'  service areas.   Service areas are based on signal strengths calculated by engineers and may not actually be as perceived by listeners.   For example a listener on high ground in one area may hear well and listen to a station that is for legal purposes not serving that area.  

Service areas are divided into primary and secondary areas.   Secondary areas may be described informally as the areas where the station is heard reasonably well but may not be in the actual community of service, for advertising and news purposes. For legal purposes, the classes of stations are considered to have the following secondary service areas, expressed as radius from antenna.

Class A1: 18 km
Class A: 38 km
Class B1: 51 km
Class B: 65 km
Class C1: 86 km
Class C: 97 km

Beyond these distances Industry Canada does not protect stations, and may assign other stations to serve those areas beyond.   This does not mean that another transmitter can be placed at for example 66 km from an existing Class B station.  See  below.

There is a table of minimum separation distances between stations.   Two Class A1 stations on the same frequency must be at least 78 km apart.  At the other end of the scale, two Class C stations on the same frequency must be at least 317 km apart.   There are all the variations in between, for example between a Class B1 and a Class C1, etc.  There are also values for separation between stations on the next one and two adjacent frequencies.   As the FM band fills it becomes more and more complicated to find appropriate frequencies.  The result now is that in order to meet these requirements, more distant unprotected stations that you and I might listen to on occasion, perhaps with better than normal equipment, are slowly being covered by new local stations.

Industry Canada has produced a Table of Allotments that ahead of time proposed FM broadcast frequencies for a multitude of communities across Canada.   For example a list of frequencies was produced for Moncton, along with the class of station proposed for each frequency.   This would all be based on population and the separation rules.  In theory, as entities apply for broadcasting licences they would know what would be available to them.  In practice there have been departures from the Table of Allotments, so that it can no longer be considered to be entirely carved in stone.