FM radio relogs: Their place in your DX log (part 2 of 2)

dx logsEditor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part series I am writing about relogs.  Read part one, which deals with relogs in general, by clicking here.

Deciding how to deal with relogs in your DX log can be a burden many DXers face.  For the purposes of this article, I’ll refer to FM logs, but the same applies for TV, AM and other broadcast bands.

Throughout a DXer’s career, their radio band may not change much in terms of where FM signals are located, however what is heard on the local and regional frequencies could be vastly different even five years into the future.

Since I started DXing FM radio in 1999, 16 of my 34 local FM stations have had some sort of changes.  Of the 16, 14 have received new station names, 11 changed formats and 10 have received new call letters at least once in the past 14 years.  Seven of my locals changed names, calls and formats at least once since 1999.     Two of the local signals, which are translators, debuted since I started DXing.  There have been countless other changes seen in semi-local and regional stations received in my area in the past few decades, too.

With all of these changes on the FM dial, how does a DXer keep track of it?  By reading DX logs of several DXers, I’ve noticed that many have dealt with the issue in the following ways:

  • Change listing of the station.  When something changes (calls, format, city of license, ERP, station name, etc.) on a logged FM signal, some DXers like to edit the log itself to reflect the latest station information.  This allows DXers to quickly glance at a log to see the current ‘status’ of every received station.  Many who follow this method keep a column or a special area to make note the station as originally logged.  Or, they use the note feature of Microsoft Excel to put information about the station’s original call letters, format, etc. as first logged.
  • The 'comment' feature of Microsoft Excel could help in retaining relog updates.
    The ‘comment’ feature of Microsoft Excel could help in retaining relog updates.

    Use advanced Excel features to denote change.  This is a variant of the above method, however, instead of having a devoted area for ‘initial log’ information, the DXer chooses to put the ‘as originally logged’ information in a Microsoft Excel log.  This can be handy if one station has changed multiple things at different times.  A local station in my area, 94.7 WARW Bethesda, MD, was logged on 3/9/99 with a classic rock format as “Classic Rock 94.7.”  In 2007, it flipped to adult rock as “94-7 The Globe” with new calls WTGB.  It segued to classic rock, but retained the same calls in 2008.  It flipped to hot AC “94-7 Fresh FM” with the WTGB calls in Apr. 2009.  By Dec. 2009, the station adopted its current WIAD calls but retained the format and “Fresh FM” name.  I’ll admit, that’s a lot of history for one station.  Updating every individual column of this station using the notes feature (i.e. only noting format changes under the ‘format’ column, call letter changes only in the ‘calls’ column) would be a very organized way of keeping track of station changes.  Excel, as seen above, allows DXers to easily see where a station has changes by including a ‘red flag’ in the applicable cells.

  • Keep a running tally of all relogs.  Several DXers keep a daily tally of all relogs heard and, over time, a pattern can be seen with format changes, new call letters, etc.  All you need to do is keep a list of every relog received (outside of local and semi-local signals) and you’ll soon have a long list of station changes.  Browse running tally lists from DXers Nick Langan and Steve K3PHL.
  • Click to enlarge.  The relog column of my DX log, seen in white to the right, has updated information about any FM signal, where applicable.
    Click to enlarge. The relog column of my DX log, seen in white to the right, has updated information about any FM signal, where applicable.

    Adding a ‘relog’ column to the log.  This is what I do with my log.  I haven’t seen others adopt this method.  In my log, I permanently keep the original, initial logging information of a station in the main portion of the log.  However, I note any and all changes, in a chronological order, in a separate column to the far right of my log.  With a widescreen monitor, the relog changes can be easily spotted and is handy during DX openings.  It is also easy to keep track of changes because if there’s not anything in the column, then the station is still received as noted in its original log.

  • Doing nothing.  Other DXers simply log a station and that’s it: whatever is logged is noted and that’s it.

Although there’s nothing wrong with any of the above methods, I have found some problems in practice with each.  If DXers change the main data fields of a station upon a signal change, the original information may be inadvertently lost over a period of time in lieu of the updated info.  DXers must exercise caution when updating records as to not lose information.  The Excel notes method can prove hazardous as the notes can move and be hard to read if they aren’t locked after editing.  A running tally can take a long time to look through if you need a specific history from one station.

My method of using a ‘relog column’ also has its issues.  Going from relog column to my ‘as first logged’ portion of the log, which is to the left of the relog column, can be confusing and difficult to use at times.  Doing nothing about noting relogs in a DX log can cause headaches to a DXer, especially if they return to DXing after a break.