how to get a radio station for drive in movie

How to Get a Radio Station for Drive-In Movie – Complete Guide with Tips, Tricks & More

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Drive-in movie theaters are an excellent way to spend your evening. Even though it can be difficult to get a radio station, we discovered some quick ways around it. 

Our team has prepared an easy guide that you can follow to get a radio station as a service provider and a viewer. We’ll also reveal some tips along the way. 

Quick Summary

Today’s post will highlight the following topics:

  • Ways to get a radio station for drive-in movies
  • Pros and cons
  • Important FAQs

Let’s jump right into it. 

How to Get a Radio Station for Drive-In Movies?

Drive-in movie theaters use FM transmission to project audio to the viewers. However, you simply can’t just transmit your radio on an empty frequency. 

There is a legal process that you have to follow if you are a drive-in service provider. In this guide, we’ll highlight how to get a radio station as a service provider. 

What if I am a viewer at a drive-in theater?

Furthermore, our team will also describe how you can tune into the radio channel of your drive-in movie theater. 

Process to Get a Radio Station as a Service Provider

To use a radio station for commercial use, you’ll need a license. This license enables you to broadcast to a specific frequency that your drive-in viewers can use. 

On the other side, if you do use a radio station/frequency without authorization, there can be legal action. 

Submit an Application

The first thing you need to do is contact the Federal Communications Commission and get an application form. Once you do that, fill it out to the best of your ability. 

We noticed that the form contains specific sections for commercial and personal use. You just have to fill out the commercial section for a drive-in radio station. 

What other information do I have to provide?

Besides that, you’ll have to give your general identification. It includes your name, occupation, and purpose of application.

Select Radio Broadcast Channel

After you fill out the basic information, the next step is to select the type of broadcast channel. Our team found that you can select from either FM or AM frequencies. 

However, for a drive-in theater, an FM broadcast channel is sufficient. There are two reasons for it. 

Why is FM better for drive-in movie theaters?

First of all, you can find a lot of stable frequencies on FM bandwidth compared to AM bandwidth. Second, FM can be powered with a low-power transmitter. 

Whereas AM channels require a powerful transmitter. 

Get an FM Transmitter

Once you complete and submit your application, it’ll roughly take a couple of days to get through. Until then, you’ll have to find a suitable FM transmitter. 

After multiple tests, our team members concluded that a low-power transmitter is adequate. It can provide good signal transmission for 30-60 cars. 

Are there going to be any issues with reception?

As long as your transmitter isn’t blocked by metallic objects, signal reception will be fine. You can also place the transmitter at an elevated level to improve transmission.

Test Your Equipment

The last step is to test your radio frequency and the transmitter. We recommend that you run multiple tests at different distances. 

This will give you a clear idea as to what the optimal range is. You can further improve the audio quality by finding multiple adjacent frequency channels. 

Now, let’s see how you can find a radio station as a drive-in movie viewer. 

We’ve compiled the different methods on how to reset a car radio so that you can continue listening to your favorite tunes. Check it out here.

Process to Get a Radio Station as a Viewer

Process to Get a Radio Station as a Service Provider

As a drive-in viewer at a drive-in movie theater, there are multiple ways to access a radio station. Let’s check them out in detail. 

Use Your Car’s Radio

Arguably, the easiest way to access the drive-in movie audio is through your car’s radio system. The drive-in movie theater officials will provide you with a specific radio frequency. 

Turn on your car’s radio and tune in to the given frequency. Once you do that, the movie’s audio will start playing in your car. 

Use an FM Transmitter

If you can’t find the frequency with your car’s radio, an FM transmitter is the next option. Simply connect the transmitter to your car’s stereo and tune in to the frequency. 

We must mention that you’ll need a high-quality FM transmitter for this. Otherwise, it’ll face a lot of interference from the surrounding vehicles. 

Use Your Phone

Lastly, you can use your smartphone to access the radio frequency. There are further two ways to access the drive-in movie audio.

You can use the built-in radio app on your smartphone or download a radio app from the app store. We noticed that the built-in app performs better because it doesn’t require the internet. 

Car radios are great for entertainment but as I learned, they can drain your car battery really fast if you’re not careful. That’s why I and my team decided to run some tests to determine what factors affect a car battery’s drainage with the radio on. Check it out here.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind

In this section, we’ll state some essential tips you need to keep in mind at all times. 

  • Always select a frequency that has multiple adjacent vacant frequencies. This will prevent other channels from interfering. 
  • Always use a frequency near your drive-in location. This will help with the transmission of your FM transmitter.
  • You can apply for a radio station/frequency for a single-time use only. So, you don’t have to pay a recurring cost. 
  • As a viewer, keep your transmitter pointed towards the movie screen. This is where the signals are usually coming from. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it expensive to get a radio station?

It solely depends on the type of station you are applying for. Long-range frequencies/stations are rather expensive because it takes a lot of power to transmit such frequencies. On the other hand, high-powered FM frequencies are also expensive to get. 

Is there any other way to project audio at a drive-in?

You can potentially use a Bluetooth device to project audio to the drive-in viewers. However, for this purpose, you’ll need a powerful Bluetooth transmitter. They are highly expensive and technical to use. You are better off with an FM transmitter. 

Do I have to name my radio station?

If you are using a radio frequency for drive-in movies, there is no need to name it. You can simply provide the frequency to your viewers and they’ll connect their devices with it. On the other hand, you can name it if drive-in movies are a permanent business venture.

Are FM transmitters expensive?

Powerful FM transmitters are quite expensive. However, you don’t need one for drive-in movies. A low-powered FM transmitter is enough to provide strong signals for over a dozen cars. 

Interested in troubleshooting your radio problems? Check out our complete detailed guide and FAQs here.

Wrapping Things Up…

With this, we come to the finish line of our guide on How to Get a Radio Station for Drive-In Movies. We hope you can use this information to your advantage. 

As a drive-in business owner, a radio station is quite necessary. You can get a permanent frequency by applying for it at the Federal Communications Commission. 

Don’t forget to check out our latest insights and reviews on the latest products and radios with FAQs, Tips, and more.

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