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COLUMN: KOMU broadcast received with HD antenna

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 | 6:25 p.m. CST; updated 10:27 a.m. CST, Thursday, January 6, 2011
An RCA HD antenna receives the signal transmitted from KOMU over the air. The units, costing anywhere from $15 to $80, are easy to install and work on any TV with a digital tuner.

COLUMBIA — At midnight on Tuesday, KOMU went blank on my television. Around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, I had it back on. And I still get my Internet and cable from Mediacom.

If you're a Mediacom subscriber, there are a few different options for watching your favorite NBC shows — mine is "The Office" — but most are online. You can view them through Mediacom's OnDemand features using a digital cable box, but if you want to watch the Thursday night comedy lineup on NBC, you'll have to wait until at least Saturday because the OnDemand shows are delayed.

The way I decided to get KOMU back into my living room was through an over-the-air HD antenna. After some Googling, I decided it was time to buy.

I went to Best Buy and wandered around the television section until I saw the small selection available. A salesperson came over and informed me that they have been selling fast in the past few days.

I chose an RCA model with an amplifier to help boost the signal before it goes to the television. After paying for the $40 unit, it was back to my home to give it a shot.

The setup seemed simple enough: Plug the coaxial cable into my television and the power cord to the wall, then get HD television for free. And that's basically how it went — eventually.

After positioning the two rabbit-ear pieces that extended from the back of the unit as they were pictured on the box, I ran an auto-detect channel scan on my television. It found three non-HD channels.

Not quite the 15 the salesman at Best Buy told me about.

I repositioned the antennas and tried again. Still only three channels.

I moved the antenna closer to the large, north-facing window. Same result.

I turned the amplifier off. No change.

Then I pulled the antenna to my coffee table to fiddle with it some more.

Suddenly, I heard a woman talking about brown rice and toasted almonds. It was the one, the only Rachael Ray. I looked up and she was chopping cilantro.

I had KOMU again.

I pulled my hands off the antenna and the picture froze; Rachael's voice muted. I touched it again and she was garnishing the plate. Apparently my body improved the reception just enough to bring in KOMU.

On a hunch, I went to my closet and grabbed a metal coat hanger, hung it on the crisscrossed antennas, then stepped away. Sure enough, the show was back just in time for me to see what she'd be cooking tomorrow. 

This old-school solution to a new-school technological problem might not be quite as simple as pulling up the menu on a cable box and pushing a button, and it isn't ideal, but let's hope it is just temporary. 

Alex Giddings is a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism. He is a reporter and photographer for the Missourian.


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Comments

Ellis Smith January 5, 2011 | 6:54 p.m.

I did that nearly two years ago and I use my powered antenna exclusively as a TV signal source to receive channels.

1-The antenna you describe is the one I use. I wouldn't bother trying a non-powered antenna.

2- Success will vary according to availability of a suitably strong broadcast signal, and with no obstructions (tall buildings, etc.) to create blocks.

3- Buy the antenna with the understanding that you will immediately try it out, and if the results aren't suitable you will return the antenna for cash or credit.

(Report Comment)
Chris Swisher January 6, 2011 | 11:21 a.m.

The antenna shown should have a pair of rabbit ears attached. They are the elements that recieve KOMU, and should be extended 15 1/2 inches on each side. The antenna will perform best if moved away from any electronics, and near a window facing the television station. Additional suggestions are available at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/dtv... .

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer January 6, 2011 | 12:57 p.m.

I did the same thing Alex did, but instead of hanger, I had to use something my dad did back in the old 3 channel days...aluminum foil. That worked and now I got KOMU & CW.

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen January 6, 2011 | 1:35 p.m.

John is right on the mark. The antenna you bought is not going to be very good at picking up stations broadcasting in the VHF range (like KOMU). Pretty sad that the salesperson at Best Buy was not aware of this.

(Report Comment)
Alex Giddings January 6, 2011 | 1:52 p.m.

Thanks for the replies... The antenna I bought did have rabbit ears, which I positioned in every way I could. They were a fixed length and could not be extended. I found that the ABC 17 stations, which would be in the UFH band, did come in very well.

The VHF stations were best when I had the rabbit ears crossed and pointing toward the large window in the picture. It also helped to move the antenna away from the other electronics, like you said Chris.

(Report Comment)

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