FM reception is quite reliable but can be disrupted by a weak signal. Hissing or fading usually means the signal reaching your radio is not strong enough.
The causes could be a transmitter problem, being on the edge of coverage, incorrect tuning of your radio or a result of certain types of weather.
Reduced transmitter power
If the transmitter is on reduced power or undergoing any transmitter maintenance work, this can cause hissing or fading. Use our transmitter checker tool to see the status of your transmitter. The transmitter tool can only show faults with BBC services.
You can determine how good your coverage is by using the BBC’s online transmitter tool. This will show if you have good or variable coverage. If you are in variable coverage you may experience occasional hissing or fading.
Ensure you are tuned to the correct frequency for the service you wish to listen to. If you are using a portable radio with a telescopic aerial make sure it is fully extended, you may also need to tilt or swivel the aerial to get the best reception. If using an external or loft aerial, the problem could be due to corrosion, or the cable may be damaged or loose. If the hissing or fading is more obvious when it is raining, the rainwater might be getting into the external aerial down-lead. It may be necessary to call someone to give your installation a health check.
Mono or stereo
If it is possible, try putting your FM radio into mono. If reception improves a better quality or external aerial may help.
If you are using a portable radio, it may be necessary to move this to a different position in the room. Windowsills and high shelves are a good position for the radio. Try to avoid putting it next to a radiator or any electronic equipment, for example, a computer, microwave, boiler or mobile phone.
Very occasionally your reception can be affected by weather (high pressure) which can cause hissing or even loss of reception. There is nothing that can be done about this, the only solution is to wait until the weather changes.