A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Why does touching a radio antenna reduce static?

Dear Straight Dope:

Why is it that when there is static on the radio and you move closer or touch the antenna the static stops? Does it have anything to do with the electrons in our bodies?

Sort of, but not in the way you're thinking.

First, keep in mind that as a general rule, static is a result of poor reception. This can be caused by distance, or simple interference. The answer to this, barring such modern contrivances as cable radio and the like, is to attach the receiver to a bigger antenna.

So what's this got to do with you touching or coming close to the antenna? Turns out that the human body makes a pretty good one in most cases, being a better conductor than, say, air or your living room wall. As a result, more of the signal is picked up and channeled into your receiver via the antenna, clearing up the reception.

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