40+ miles from the towers and stuck behind a hill; (how) can I get a signal?



(Crossposted to the TV Fool forums.)

First of all, here are the TV Fool reports for my address:

Ground level
30 feet

Now for the details...

I recently moved to Riverside, CA, in the Inland Empire region of Greater Los Angeles. The IE is served by the LA broadcast market, so the OTA signal for the major networks comes from the towers on Mount Wilson, 40-50 miles west-northwest of Riverside. By itself, the distance doesn't actually seem to be a problem; according to both AntennaWeb and TV Fool's coverage maps, a good part of the city should be able to get a signal with an indoor antenna.

Unfortunately, I don't live in that good part of the city; instead, I'm located behind (relative to Mt. Wilson) a really big hill. I'm at the very edge of the hill, enough so that it isn't quite as high between me and the towers as it would be if I were closer to the peak. But I'm still close enough to it to wash out any hope of getting a signal with an indoor antenna. (I've tried--I get KVCR, which has a tower in the opposite direction, but nothing on Mt. Wilson.) Since I rent my room, I don't think I'll be able to install an antenna on the roof on my own volition, so before I ask my landlord if he'd allow it, I want to find out if it's even worthwhile.

I only really care about the Big Four--KABC, KCBS, KNBC, and KTTV (FOX); maybe KCAL as well--but according to these reports and the coverage maps, even that might be a little difficult; a rooftop antenna would probably get KTTV and KABC okay (i.e., the two VHF channels), but KNBC is uncertain and KCBS looks nearly impossible.

Just to further complicate things, the house I'm in has two separate buildings: the main house and a detached room behind it. I only want TV service to the detached room, but if my landlord agrees to install an antenna, he'll presumably want it to go to the main house for future tenants to use. So an outdoor antenna may have to lead to TWO separate outputs, and with such a weak signal to begin with, that dilution might make it impossible to get ANYTHING.

Still, I'd like to know if there's anything I can do to pick up those networks at my location. Would a good rooftop antenna, placed as high as we can get it and hooked up to a solid preamp, be sufficient to get what I'm looking for? Or is there pretty much no hope of getting all four networks without building a 200-foot tall antenna tower? Because I'm pretty sure that'd be a code violation.

P.S.: although it doesn't look like it's possible, if there's any humanly way to pick up any of the Big Four without needing a major installation project, please let me know. Even just getting the two VHF channels would be better than nothing.

Finally, before anyone asks, I absolutely cannot afford even a basic cable package, so OTA is my only option for live TV.


Staff member
I'm going to first off answer your question with a question. Would you expect me to be able to get KTVD, KCNC, KWGN, KDVR, and KRMA at this TV Fool with a simple 5" diameter loop antenna? Just because the TVfool doesn't look promising doesn't mean the signals aren't out there!!! Get a small antenna, and go out "sniffing." If you find signals go talk to your landlord.

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