We present a distributed algorithm for maximizing 1-hop broadcast coverage in dense wireless sensor networks. Our strategy is built upon an analytic model that predicts the optimal range for maximizing 1-hop broadcast coverage given information like network density and node sending rate. The algorithm allows each node to set the maximizing radio range using only the locally observed sending rate and node density. The algorithm is thus critically dependent on the empirical determination of these parameters. Our algorithm can observe the parameters using only message eavesdropping and thus does not require extra protocol messages. Using simulation, we show that in spite of many simplifications in the model and incomplete density information in a live network, our algorithm converges fairly quickly and provides good coverage for both uniform and non-uniform networks across a wide range of conditions. We also demonstrate the utility of our algorithm for higher layer protocols by showing that it significantly improves the reception rate for a flooding application as well as the performance of a localization protocol.