Spectacular tropo opening 9/28/19. 7 new FM logs and 3 new TV logs

The amazing abundance of tropo enhancement in the summer/fall of 2019 has completely made up for the severe lack of Sporadic E earlier in the year.  For the second time this month, a tropo duct formed bringing in FM and TV signals up to 278 miles away.  It started at about 8:00 PM when Norfolk, VA signals, at 120-140 miles away to the southeast, were coming in over semi-local and regional signals in my car.  By 11:00 PM, the Norfolk signals were in with full HD Radio decodes and RDS on stations that don’t run HD.  Norfolk’s 40 WTKR and 50 WGNT were in with local grade signals.  This is a common occurrence in the warmer months at my location.

At 11:30 PM, the Norfolk signals faded away and were replaced with the common Philadelphia, PA FM & TV signals that I often get (at roughly 144 miles away) from the northeast instead.  With that came a few new FM stations.  The duct soon expanded into New York City and Long Island with WLNY-TV, a new digital log that I haven’t seen in 18 years since I first logged them as an analog signal.  Although this duct wasn’t as strong as the one experienced on 9/11/19 where most New York City FM stations came in over my local Washington, DC signals, this opening made up with several random and unexpected FM & TV logs, with two signals (99.1 WAWZ and 107.9 WPPZ-FM) decoding in HD right over my local stations.

For brevity, I only have listed stations below which have new RDS/HD Radio screenshots, TV screenshots, or audio files.   The content below has been added to my DX Logs pages.

 = new station first received in this opening

  • 88.9 WBYO Sellersville, PA, 157 miles, “Word FM” – ccm
  • 89.9 WXTR Tappahannock, VA, 62 miles, “Life Talk Radio” – religious (first-time RDS decode from previously-logged station)
  • 91.5 WNYE New York, NY, 227 miles, jazz program match to website
  • 94.3 WJLK Asbury Park, NJ, 201 miles “94-3 The Point” – CHR
  • 99.1 WAWZ Zarephath, NJ, 197 miles, “Star 99.1” – ccm, over local WDCH
  • 99.9 WODE-FM Easton, PA, 179 miles, “99.9 The Hawk” – classic hits
  • 105.7 WCHR-FM Manahawkin, NJ, 174 miles, “105-7 The Hawk” – classic rock (first-time RDS decode from previously-logged station)
  • 106.3 WJSE North Cape May, NJ, 144 miles, “106.3 The Shore” – classic hits (first-time RDS decode from previously-logged station)
  • 106.5 WTHJ Bass River Township, NJ, 170 miles, “Thunder 106” – country
  • 107.9 WPPZ-FM Pennsauken, NJ, 144 miles, “Classix 107.9” – classic urban AC, over local WLZL
  • 22 WTVE Reading, PA, 145 miles, “Sonlife” – religious (subdecode from Insignia DTT-901 menu with PSIP callsign visible)
  • 26 WQAV-CD Glassboro, NJ, 150 miles, “Jewelry TV, Ind. (subdecode from Insignia DTT-901 menu with PSIP callsign visible)
  • 29 WLNY-TV Riverhead, NY, 278 miles, “WLNY 10/55” – Ind.

New FM translator in Northern Virginia, 103.1 W276DT

While scanning the FM dial on September 24, 2019, I found a new station on 103.1 rebroadcasting the EWTN religious network.  At first, I thought that nearby 106.3 WJPN-LP, which also airs EWTN, had moved to 103.1, but I knew that wasn’t the case after still hearing WJPN-LP on 106.3.  I then heard an ad for a Baltimore-area church on the signal, which made me then think nearby 103.1 WRNR Annapolis, MD–in the Baltimore radio market–had flipped formats.  They did not.  A quick search of DCRTV.com found a reference to the signal being a new translator licensed to Falls Church, VA, W276DT, relaying 1160 WMET Gaithersburg, MD.  I have added W276DT to my FM DX Log.

The addition of W276DT to the airwaves has little impact on DXing for me.  W276DT is somewhat strong in my car, but it is very weak at home.  Prior to the signal signing on, WRNR would often come in with local strength.  While I predict this to happen less with the new translator on-air, I still think WRNR (and other signals on 103.1) will easily come in via signal enhancement.

New FM log:

  • 103.1 W276DT Falls Church, VA, 15 miles

Colossal FM & TV DX opening 9/11/19; 7 new FM logs and 6 new TV logs

A once-in-a-decade mammoth tropo duct to the north brought in multiple signals complete with HD Radio and RDS from New York City and surrounding areas to my Northern Virginia home on September 11, 2019.  This comes on the heels of a spectacular tropo opening into New York and North Carolina the previous morning, which netted me 10 new DTV logs.

I first noticed New York’s TV 27 WNYW–which I had first logged the night before–coming in with local-grade reception at 227 miles at about 11:30 PM on September 10.  Several other TV stations popped in from New York and Philadelphia at 144-227 miles away.  At this point, the opening was largely TV-only like the previous night’s.

Without warning, many of my regional radio stations succumbed to strong signals from New York, such as 92.3, 101.9, and 102.7 FM.  Minutes later, many of my local Washington, DC stations disappeared for the first time to NYC signals, resulting in seven new logs alone from the New York market.  100.3 WHTZ’s HD Radio signal blasted in right over local WBIG, which also runs HD Radio.  I have not seen such an opening to the north in at least a decade.

The opening was not just limited to New York stations.  FM signals from Philadelphia started to overpower my local Washington signals on the same frequencies at the same time, many with first-time HD Radio decodes.  The entire duct began to fade into the usual Norfolk and Richmond fare at about 3:00 AM.

For brevity, I only have listed stations below which have new RDS/HD Radio screenshots or audio files.  Everything radio-related below have been added to my DX Logs pages.

= new station first received in this opening

  • 88.7 WKNZ Harrington, DE, 93 miles, 25 KW, “88-7 The Bridge” – ccm
  • 90.1 WRTI Philadelphia, PA, 143 miles, 12.5 KW, over local WCSP
  • 90.9 WHYY-FM Philadelphia, PA, 143 miles, 13.5 KW, “WHYY” – public radio, over local WETA
  • 92.9 WRDX Smyrna, DE, 98 miles, 1.7 KW, “92.9 Tom FM” – adult hits
  • 94.1 WIP-FM Philadelphia, PA, 144 miles, 16 KW, “SportsRadio 94 WIP” – sports
  • 94.7 WDSD Dover, DE, 98 miles, 50 KW, “94-7 WDSD” – country, over local WIAD
  • 100.3 WHTZ Newark, NJ, 227 miles, 6 KW, “Z100” – CHR, over local WBIG
  • 105.1 WWPR-FM New York, NY, 227 miles, 17 KW, “Power 105.1” – urban, over local WAVA
  • 105.9 WQXR-FM Newark, NJ, 227 miles, .61 KW, classical, over local WMAL
  • 106.7 WLTW New York, NY, 227 miles, 1.8 KW, “106.7 Lite FM” – AC, over local WJFK

The following new logs and screenshots (including more not seen below from DTV subchannels) were added to my TV DX Log:

  •  2 WDPB Salisbury, MD, 89 miles, 40 KW, “MeTV” – MeTV
  •  6 WPVI-TV Philadelphia, PA, 144 miles, 56 KW, “Action News 6” – ABC
  • 16 WCPB Salisbury, MD, 92 miles, 320 KW, “MPT” – PBS
  • 25 WPHY-CD Trenton, NJ, 145 miles, 15 KW, religious
  • 26 WXTV-DT Paterson, NJ, 226 miles, 200 KW, “Univision” – Univision
  • 32 WBOC-TV Salisbury, MD, 88 miles, 1,000 KW, “WBOC-TV 16” – CBS

Best night of TV DXing in 20 years: 10 new digital TV logs and new DTV distance record achieved

Out of 20 years of DXing, September 10, 2019 was the best TV DXing event that I have ever experienced. I received 7 new TV logs from New York City and North Carolina upward to 244 miles from my home in Northern Virginia, setting a new distance record for digital TV reception.

It all started in the early morning hours of September 9. Stellar regional tropo brought in three new TV logs from within 85 miles:

  • 5 WMDE Dover, DE, 66 miles, 10 KW, “WMDE” – Ind.
  • 24 WRLH-TV Richmond, VA, 80 miles, “FOX Richmond” – FOX, on its new post-repack channel
  • 28 WGDV-LD Salisbury, MD, 83 miles, 15 KW, “Azteca America” – spanish

I also logged HD Radio for the first time from previously-logged 88.9 WCVE-FM Richmond, VA, 77 miles away.

The main event came that night and into the next morning on September 10, where I found local 99.1 WDCH Bowie, MD (50 KW @ 39 miles) gone, replaced with a local-grade signal from 99.1 WVOD (50 KW @ 214 miles) from Manteo, NC. Other radio enhancement was minor, although I did get 104.1 WTQR Winston-Salem, NC, 100 KW @ 233 miles, over local 104.1 WPRS, 50 KW @ 23 miles, something that hasn’t happened in over a decade. New York City’s 105.1 WWPR, previously logged, was heard weakly over local 105.1 WAVA. Seeing that the FM dial was enhanced but not wide open, I didn’t expect much when I turned on my TV.

The first thing that came across my screen was a subdecode from New York, NY’s 27 WNYW. This was completely unexpected, given the much-closer Philadelphia TV signals I often get (26 WCAU and 30 KYW-TV) had weak signals. Within the next hour, signals from Raleigh, NC and eastern/coastal North Carolina boomed in with local-grade reception at 210-244 miles. I received many stations in digital for the first time that I had received in analog prior to the 2009 DTV transition, logging seven new TV stations. 19 WUNM-TV and 47 WYDO are new record holders for my furthest DTV receptions, at 244 miles each.

The following new logs and screenshots (including more not seen below from DTV subchannels) were added to my TV DX Log:

  • 19 WUNM-TV Jacksonville, NC, 244 miles, 700 KW, “UNC-TV” – PBS
  • 27 WNYW New York, NY, 224 miles, 92.8 KW, “FOX 5” – FOX (note: you will see a “PHL 17” logo at the bottom right from WPHL in Philadelphia–that was the station I was tuned into before logging WNYW. Sometimes the Insignia DTT-901 box will display a “ghost” image of the last-logged station upon a weak signal partially decoding from another station.
  • 27 WLFL Raleigh, NC, 216 miles, 775 KW, “CW 22” – CW (note: subdecode showing the DTT-901 menu with positive PSIP ID).
  • 33 WTVZ-TV Norfolk, VA, 134 miles, 960 KW, “My TVZ” – MyTV, over local WHUT-DT
  • 38 WEPX-TV Greenville, NC, 238 miles, 850 KW, “Ion” – Ion
  • 47 WYDO Greenville, NC, 244 miles, 350 KW, “FOX Eastern Carolina” – FOX
  • 48 WRAL-TV Raleigh, NC, 216 miles, 805 KW, “WRAL” – NBC

Tropo 8/5/19: 2 new TV logs

Minor tropo on August 5 brought in two new stations on their new post-2019 transition channels.  Strong signals from Philadelphia’s 28 WCAU and 30 KYW-TV came in for the first time during the early morning hours of August 5 with previously-logged 17 WPHL.  KYW-TV, on its previous pre-repack channel of TV 26, was an occasional visitor.  WCAU, on the other hand, is an all-new log.  The new logs and screenshots below have been added to my DX Logs.

  • 28 WCAU Philadelphia, PA, 144 miles, 745 KW, “NBC 10” – NBC
  • 30 KYW-TV Philadelphia, PA, 144 miles, 790 KW, “CBS 3 Eyewitness News” – CBS

DTV Repack in the Northern Virginia/Washington, DC Region: 8 new TV stations logged

Digital TV in the United States is currently undergoing a repack to “realign” the broadcast band dial, in the process removing TV channels 39-50 from the broadcast band and causing many stations to change their OTA broadcast channel.  According to the FCC, the reallocation of TV spectrum is being done in phases, with the first set of stations making the switch last year.  The entire repack is expected to be done by summer 2020.  Mid-Atlantic region TV signals, including my local Washington, DC, and semi-local Baltimore, MD stations, were mandated to switch as part of Phase 4 of the repack by August 2.

While this simply means a TV re-scan for casual viewers to receive their local TV stations at their new dial positions, the repack provides an interesting situation for DXers.  DXers may receive new logs that they would have otherwise never received on a channel previously occupied by a local station.  This is especially true if a DXer lives near markets operating on different phases of the repack, given the distant signals would be moving their channels at different times.

I have been monitoring the TV band the past few weeks as some of my local signals moved to their new channels.  I’ve found some interesting receptions: some stations, like 31 WETA-TV as seen below, were testing on their new channel before the Aug. 2 deadline while their pre-repack TV 27 channel was still on-air (their TV 27 has since shut down).  Richmond’s 42 WCVE-TV was still on its pre-repack channel as of August 4, which allowed me to log it for the first time after local 42 WMPT moved to TV 21.  I also noticed several Norfolk, VA area stations (16 WHRO, 20 WUND, 29 WVBT, 40 WTKR, and 50 WGNT) were broadcasting on their pre-repack channels past the Aug. 2 deadline.  24 WDCO-CD is an all-new log.  Although WDCO-CD’s city of license is over 70 miles southwest of my home, its transmitter is in downtown Washington, DC.

For logging purposes, I consider a previously-logged station broadcasting on a new OTA channel as a new TV log.  A list of my new logs related to the repack are below.  The screenshots seen below have been added to my TV DX Logs.

  • 8 WUPV-DT Ashland, VA, 63 miles, 30 KW, “CW Richmond” – CW (moved from TV 47)
  • 21 WMPT Annapolis, MD, 43 miles, 1000 KW, “MPT” – PBS (moved from TV 42)
  • 24 WDCO-CD Woodstock, VA, 22 miles, 15 KW, Ind.
  • 25 WNUV Baltimore, MD, 50 miles, 5000 KW, “CW Baltimore” – CW (moved from TV 40)
  • 31 WETA-TV Washington, DC, 22 miles, 73 KW, “WETA” – PBS (moved from TV 27)
  • 34 WRC-TV Washington, DC, 22 miles, 1000 KW, “NBC 4” – NBC (moved from TV 48)
  • 35 WPXW-TV Manassas, VA, 22 miles, 1000 KW, “ION” – ION (moved from TV 35)
  • 42 WCVE-TV Richmond, VA, 80 miles, 310 KW, “WCVE” – PBS

2019 FM E-Skip Year in Review

Sporadic E is a method of signal propagation that, when in effect, allows broadcast signals to be received up to 1500 miles away with clear local reception. It can happen any time of the year, but it is most common during the summer months.

I have been DXing FM radio since 1999.  Although I received my first Sporadic E signal a year later, I didn’t monitor the FM band daily for FM Es until 2006.  From 2006 to 2009, I experienced hours of skip most days of the annual season, which usually falls between mid-May and July 31.  I often had to put off social events because the FM band was always inundated with skip.  Starting in 2009, however, things started to plummet.  I received 22 FM Es openings that year, and by 2016, it was down to 8.  The amount of skip heard during that time dwindled, going from 24 hours some years, to only 33 minutes total in 2017.  I experienced 100 minutes of FM Es during one opening alone last year, when I was on vacation in New York.  Although that opening was stunning given the annual downturn, the rest of the 2018 season was a dud, on par with 2017.

READ MY PREVIOUS YEARS’ E-SKIP SEASON REVIEWS DATING BACK TO 2011

2019 was one for the record books, and not in a good way.  There were four Sporadic E openings during the entire of the season.  Of the four 2019 openings, only one of the them had signals that came in for more than a few seconds at a time.  Overall, the 2019 season netted me two new FM logs, one of them remarkably a weak 250-watt translator.  Skip was heard about 1 hour and 4 minutes total in 2019.

I used to give detailed reviews of the season’s FM Es openings, but it has gotten to the point where I can sum it up in a brief post.  Hopefully there will be some respectable skip in 2020.  Even though each year seems to be worse than the last, I still keep my hopes up.

First-time HD Radio decodes from 5 Philadelphia FM stations

Philadelphia, PA, at 144 miles away from my Virginia home, is the hardest market within my usual tropo range to get HD Radio signals from.  Many of the city’s FM signals are on the same frequencies as my local Washington, DC signals.  The few that aren’t are either first adjacents to my IBOC-broadcasting local stations, or they are on frequencies usually occupied by powerhouse regional stations.

Philadelphia signals usually come in with nearby Atlantic City and Delmarva signals.  Oddly enough, tropo enhancement during the early morning hours of July 29 brought in Philadelphia FMs without the aforementioned coastal signals.  The lack of the those signals were just enough to allow HD Radio to decode for the first time on four Philadelphia frequencies.  I also got an HD Radio subdecode from another Philly station, plus RDS decodes from a few other stations.  The screenshots below have been added to my Woodbridge, VA FM DX Log.

92.5 WXTU Philadelphia, PA, 15 KW, 143 miles

94.1 WIP-FM Philadelphia, PA, 16 KW, 144 miles

98.1 WOGL Philadelphia, PA, 7.3 KW, 144 miles

98.9 WUSL Philadelphia, PA, 32 KW, 144 miles

101.5 WKXW Trenton, NJ, 15.5 KW, 177 miles over local 101.5 WBQB

102.1 WIOQ Philadelphia, PA, 32 KW, 144 miles

104.5 WRFF Philadelphia, PA, 11.5 KW, 144 miles

105.3 WDAS-FM Philadelphia, PA, 42 KW, 144 miles

106.1 WISX Philadelphia, PA, 22.5 KW, 144 miles

106.9 WKVP Camden, NJ, 38 KW, 144 miles