Midland WR120 Weather Radio

Midland logoWait—don't you already have a weather radio? Don't you already have a Midland weather radio?

Midland WR120 weather radioWell, yeah. Figuring out my weather/emergency plans has been a work-in-progress (life is a work-in-progess). I spent most of my adult life in a region where extreme weather was heat over 105°F, and natural disasters were earthquakes where you have no real warning no matter what the gov'ment says. (I was also in big urban areas so brush-fires and subsequent mudslides and flooding didn't happen.) Moving to a state where tornados and flooding are a very real threat has made me re-evaluate my needs.

I started with a Midland ER310 emergency radio. It's really mean for when the power goes out, as it not only has batteries but it has a flashlight, a dog whistle (in case you need to get rescue mutts' attention), a solar cell recharger, a dynamo crank to power it if the batteries go dead, and a USB port to recharge your phone. It's got weather channels and AM/FM broadcast, and it can be programmed to sound an alert (which sounds like car alarm going off) when there's a weather alert for your area. If it goes off, you push a button and it goes right to the weather message. Wow! Why would I need anything else?

I know someone who already has a Midland WR120, and I liked its weather features more. It can be programmed so that when there's an alert, the alarm sounds and then it immedately goes to the weather broadcast, so you don't have to walk over to it and manually change over (which means you don't miss the beginning of the broadcast). It also went back to silent monitoring after the broadcast, which makes it a completely hands-free experience if you want it. That appealed to me, since I may be in another room or elsewhere when the radio alarm goes off.

The WR120 is also a desktop configuration, whereas the ER310 is a brick. That's just cosmetics, but I do like the looks of this better.

The drawback is that the reception on both of these Midlands is, in my opinion, lacking. I know that the local weather station is low power but I'm not that far away it seems to me they could have put more into amplifying the signal, particularly since they only have a few channels to target. It's not comforting to have the siren go off and then hear the broadcast and it sounds like it's coming from the north pole. I'm thinking about swapping out the collapsible whip on the WR120 with a longer one that's cut for 162.4 MHz (about 36 inches for a half-wave antenna; that's not terrible).

So right now my plan is to have the 120 on a table in the house for alerts, the ER310 ready for emergencies, and a GE Superadio or a solid-state Zenith Trans-Oceanic for broadcast or shortwave radio listening in case the power goes out and I lose the internet.

Just a note since I did the comparison, Midland also makes a WR400 weather radio. It's the 120 but with AM/FM broadcast and a clock, so it can act as a bedside clock-radio. I may get this if I find a used one for a good price. But I already have perfectly good clock-radios so that's not a priority.

Current status: on its way. I will update this when it arrives..