Colin McEnroe Show: Staying Entertained On A Budget

Hear about how to cut your cable/internet costs.

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Colin McEnroe Show: Staying Entertained On A Budget
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Colin McEnroe Show: Staying Entertained On A Budget

Our in-house name for this show is "Entertainment Freeganism", but that's kind of a misnomer. On the one hand, it's true that you can entertain yourself with a lot of free television and movies on your computer, if you're willing to watch it all there - and the amount of free music available on the internet is staggering. A visit we paid to a local library did remind us of how much free material there is to be had there. And, as you'll learn on our show today, a good antenna will give you surprisingly high quality over-the-air television.

But once you move away from what is free and start trying to play around with some of the cheaper ways to get streaming video and make it play on  your television, or ways to beat the high cost of DSL internet service, it gets really complicated. And every time we try to make it simple, it gets complicated again! But we have high hopes our panel today can iron it out.

Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.




Listening to your show about cable tv. I disconnected from cable several years ago and rarely miss having it. Seems that there is more than enough on the RADIO believe it or not! I get all those wonderful NPR / PRI shows and my Red Sox games too!


do a google search on parabolic antennas. you can build your own, or buy one,


There are two main differences between a "local" antenna and a "super long-range" antenna. The first difference is the physical size (which means the number of 'elements') which adds "gain", or signal gathering strength. This affects the second difference: the larger (or more powerful) the antenna, the more narrow the antennas focus is - think telescope vs. opera glasses.

A 'long-range' antenna is perfectly capable of receiving 'local' stations as long as it is aimed at the needed transmitter. If you are trying to use a powerful antenna to pick up a distant station which is in a different direction from the local stations, then you will have a problem. If you are dealing with different station directions, then you will need two separate antennas with an antenna switch (which is not expensive).

Be aware, however, that signal strength is NOT the primary factor when trying to pick up stations 100 miles away. TV signals travel in a straight line, and the curvature of the Earth determines how far away you will be able to pick up. If you are on a mountaintop, then you have no problem, otherwise don't expect to pick up stations farther than about 50 miles or so on UHF.

One other factor is the possibility of another station (in another city) being on the same channel interfering with your reception attempt over such a long path.


I want to buy/build a TV antenna. Can your guests help? I would like the longest range available - hope for 100 miles. Since I would like to get stations in a 20-30 mile range as well as those in an 80-100 mile range, how do I get around the problem that a 100 mile antenna is not so good for picking up a station whose broadcast site is 30-40 miles away. Could I get a 2 channel model with a selector switch?


P.S. I will be in Saco ME and would like to get Boston PBS as well as Portland ME stations.