Another bland Sporadic E opening was picked up on my unattended recordings on June 20. I have no idea if this was a good opening or not, since I was at work when it happened. I had my two radios recording 92.1 and 101.7 FM. At 12:34 PM, an unidentified religious station came in on 92.1 for 1 minute, and at 12:40 PM, an unidentified country station was heard on 101.7. The Es signals disappeared at 12:40 PM.
A fairly normal tropo opening during the early morning hours on July 20 into the Norfolk, VA area brought in an extra surprise: two new FM stations. I turned my antenna to local 97.1 WASH’s null point expecting classic hits “97-1 The Wave” WAVD from nearby Ocean City, but instead I heard Christian Contemporary music. The station identified as an affiliate of “K-Love,” which matches to 97.1 WYND. Unfortunately, my audio recorder was not running when the station IDed, and WYND left just as fast as it arrived under WASH’s strong signal. Shortly afterward, I heard sports music on 102.7 FM. I figured it could’ve been a previously-logged station airing a local sports program, but something made me keep on listening. Instead, the station identified as “99-5 and 102-7 ESPN,” which is a 250-watt translator from central Virginia. My DX Log and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
97.1 WYND Hatteras, NC, tropo, 219 miles over local WASH
102.7 W274BX Petersburg, VA, tropo, 98 miles
First-time RDS screenshots from relogs:
101.7 WLQM Franklin, VA, tropo, 137 miles
A very brief sporadic E opening was heard in my car on July 16 just outside of my Woodbridge, VA home. Signals below 92.1 FM became unstable at about 7:28 PM, but nothing solid was heard, until a 10-second fade-in from relog 89.1 WPAS Pascagoula, MS @ 847 miles, complete with RDS, came in and disappeared. After WPAS left, an unID CCM signal was heard on 89.5 FM for another 10 seconds before the opening ended.
DCRTV and Radio-Online report that an AM station in the Washington, DC region has ceased analog broadcasting, becoming the first radio station in the United States to solely broadcast in digital HD Radio.
WWFD 820 Frederick, MD, which airs an AAA format as “The Gamut,” flipped the all-IBOC switch on July 16. Since I am too far away from WWFD to receive it, I cannot verify if the station simply removed its analog frequency from its broadcast, leaving its existing digital sidebands, or if the station is broadcasting a full power digital signal on its center frequency.
The station’s move to all-digital poses an interesting situation for DXers, as it appears now that at least AM stations can apply to go all-digital. Does this mean FM stations are next? I wrote about the possibility of an all-digital FM band in 2013. In that article, I predicted that such a move would both benefit and hurt the DXing hobby. For those who aren’t familiar with the mechanics of HD Radio, a station on 95.5 FM running IBOC broadcasts its analog signal on 95.5, and its digital signal (at a lower power) on 95.3 and 95.7. These adjacent digital “sidebands” ruin DX, as it blocks out all but the strongest distant stations on the frequencies immediately next to a local signal running HD Radio.
If the HD Radio standard supports one sole full power digital signal on the center frequency (i.e. a full power digital 95.5 FM and nothing on 95.3 and 95.7 FM), then this could positively revolutionize FM DXing, as these adjacent-to-local frequencies would, once again, be open to any DX, much like it was prior to the debut of IBOC. On the other hand, if the FM band became digital-only, a very strong signal would be required to receive any radio station (rendering weak signals invisible to an HD Radio), much like what one experiences with digital TV DXing.
It remains to be seen if WWFD’s digital transition is the first of many to come, or if it is a one-off occurrence.
Another great tropo duct into coastal North Carolina–the second in a week–was heard throughout the overnight hours on July 14. The opening started with the typical summer night signals from Norfolk, VA (130 miles) and Ocean City, MD (90 miles) coming in with local-grade strength. Quickly afterward, signals further south from the New Bern/Greenville/Jacksonville, NC area at up to 240 miles away came in, some with HD Radio. This was when my local Washington, DC stations started to disappear, one by one, overtaken by distant North Carolina signals. This was largely an FM-only opening. The TV band was largely only limited to Norfolk and Richmond stations. My DX Log and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
94.7 WQDR Raleigh, NC, tropo, 217 miles over local WIAD
97.7 WZKT Walnut Creek, NC, tropo, 234 miles
107.5 WAZO Southport, NC, tropo, 320 miles
New HD Radio and RDS decodes from relogs:
90.3 WHRO Norfolk, VA, tropo, 135 miles
92.5 WYFL Henderson, NC, tropo, 177 miles
93.1 WWLB Ettrick, VA, tropo, 98 miles
97.7 WAFL Milford, DE, tropo, 97 miles
98.7 WRMR Greensboro, NC, tropo, 236 miles over local WMZQ
99.9 WCMC Holly Springs, NC, tropo, 218 miles
101.9 WIKS New Bern, NC, tropo, 239 miles
102.7 WJJX Appomattox, VA, tropo, 126 miles
106.5 WSFL New Bern, NC, tropo, 251 miles
107.9 WNCT Greenville, NC, tropo, 228 miles over local WLZL
Audio from relogs:
93.3 WERO Washington, NC, 228 miles over local WFLS
The tropo opening that brought in FM signals up to 322 miles away with two new FM logs on July 9 also brought in two new digital TV logs. During the tropo opening, I received two weak signals on RF 17 and RF 24. Although both had a PSIP ID, neither RF 17’s “Retro” or RF 24’s “AMGTV” matched anything I could find online. I asked online and with the help of Trip Ericson of RabbitEars.info, he positively ID both of the stations below. Both signals are low power, with W24EC-D only being 480 watts. This is quite an impressive feat to receive at 212 miles away. W24EC-D is also the first non-local digital log on TV 24, after local WNVC-DT signed off earlier this year in connection with the recent DTV repack. My DX Log and TV Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
A fairly weak Sporadic E opening into the upper Midwest brought in FM signals from Minnesota and South Dakota to Northern Virginia on July 10. Skip started at 5:25 PM and was heard for about 5 minutes total between that time and 5:51 PM. The signals were all short-lived, with a MUF of 98.9. This contrasts with other DXers’ online reports of top-of-the-band skip with strong signals and HD Radio decodes. Either way, I am glad to have received one new log from this opening, 92.1 KORN, which was identified by its RDS decode. KORN is the first Sporadic E signal that I have received RDS from since I started to use the Airspy R2 SDR radio. My DX Log and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
92.1 KORN Parkston, SD, e-skip, 1128 miles
Other stations received:
unID 91.7 NPR
92.1 KLQP Madison, MN, 1065 miles
unID 93.5 classic hits
unID 97.3 CHR
unID 98.9 country
An exceptional tropo opening during the early morning hours of July 9 brought in signals from coastal North Carolina up to 322 miles away with HD Radio and RDS reception. There were multiple first-time HD Radio and RDS decodes from already-logged stations, but I netted two brand new logs this time: 94.3 WZKB, which I matched to its webstream, and 95.5 WPWZ, a difficult catch under local blowtorch 95.5 WPGC, which has the same format as WPWZ. Many of my other local signals disappeared to relog signals, such as 89.3 WPFW @ 21 miles to 89.3 WTEB @ 246 miles, and 99.5 WXNR @ 239 miles over local 99.5 WIHT @ 26 miles. My DX Log and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
94.3 WZKB Wallace, NC, tropo, 272 miles, 7/9/18, 2:28 AM
95.5 WPWZ Pinetops, NC, tropo, 108 miles over local WPGC, 7/9/18, 2:44 AM
First time HD Radio and RDS decodes from relogs:
95.7 WVKL Norfolk, VA, tropo, 135 miles
96.5 WCTG Chincoteague, VA, tropo, 114 miles
97.3 WMNX Wilmington, NC, tropo, 322 miles
99.3 WOWZ Accomac, VA, tropo, 108 miles
99.9 WKXB Boiling Spring Lakes, NC, tropo, 309 miles
101.9 WIKS New Bern, NC, tropo, 239 miles
Otherwise normal tropo enhancement up to 235 miles on July 4th brought in first-time RDS and HD Radio decodes from the previously-logged stations below. 97.1 WAVD was a surprise, given the station came in at a slightly weak spot in a null with local 97.1 WASH. WOCQ’s HD Radio signal was just as intriguing to receive, one because I didn’t know the station even broadcasted IBOC, and two since the immediate adjacent signals of WOCQ (where its IBOC sidebands would be broadcasted on) were already occupied by local 103.5 WTOP and 104.1 WPRS. Both of the screenshots below have been added to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots section.
97.1 WAVD Ocean Pines, MD, tropo, 115 miles over local WASH
103.9 WOCQ Berlin, MD, tropo, 107 miles
A better-than-average tropo duct brought in signals from the New York City metro area into Northern Virginia during the early morning hours of July 2. Most of the duct brought in familiar signals from the Philadelphia market, but New York’s 92.3 WNYL @ 225 miles came in under a null with semi-local 92.3 WERQ Baltimore, MD @ 56 miles. When this happens, I know to be alert for more distant signals, as WNYL serves as one of my “beacons” of good tropo ducts to the northeast. I first checked the TV dial and found two new signals, one from Scranton, PA, and the other from the New York metropolitan area:
This is the first time I received a digital station from either the New York metro area or Scranton. Scranton is an even rarer path than New York, given it is fully over land without any water enhancement. This is my first new log on TV 50 since local WDCW-DT signed off earlier this year in connection with the DTV repack.
About an after after logging WMBC and WNEP, I found that my local FM stations were starting to succumb to interference from distant stations to the north. Local 90.1 WCSP was losing to 90.1 WHRX Nassawaddox, VA @ 108 miles (the only southern signal overpowering locals), 93.3 WFLS was being clobbered by Philadelphia’s WMMR @ 143 miles, 94.7 WIAD overtaken by Delaware’s WDSD @ 98 miles, and 97.1 WASH silenced by Ocean City’s 97.1 WAVD @ 115 miles. 103.5 WTOP seemed to be losing it to Ocean City’s 103.5 WJKI, but I couldn’t confirm it since WTOP won the battle before the offending station could broadcast an ID.
Local 105.1 WAVA was also experiencing co-channel interference on my small Insignia NS-HD01 handheld radio. WAVA is a mammoth signal that usually doesn’t budge during any tropo or Sporadic E event. In fact, in 19 years, I’ve only logged 3 other signals on 105.1, one of them when WAVA was temporarily off-air. When I tuned to 105.1 FM on the Insignia radio, I heard urban music fairly strong if I held the radio a certain way. Given that I logged WNYL earlier in the night, my suspicions were correct: the station IDed as “Power 105.1,” a positive match to WWPR New York, NY, a new log at 227 miles.