Spring radio signal enhancement in Northern Virginia

The trees are slowly getting their leaves.  The weather is getting warmer by the day.  With this becomes increased FM and TV signal enhancement.  In the early morning hours of March 30, I found my usual regional FM signals from nearby markets within 140 miles away (Norfolk, VA, Ocean City, MD, and Richmond, VA) coming in briefly, some signals strong enough to decode HD Radio.  We still have some time before some great DX openings occur, but it is great to see things slowly opening up.

Prior to my reception of common visitor 103.7 WURV Richmond, VA, at 82 miles away from my home on March 30, their HD Radio callsign displayed on my radios as “WURV,” as seen below in my archived HD Radio screenshots.

On March 30, I saw the station changed their ID to “103.” as seen in the screenshot below.

I wonder if WURV upgraded to a seven-character custom HD Radio callsign ID, much like my local 96.3 WHUR Washington, DC recently did.  I only picked up WURV’s HD signal last night on the Sangean HDR-14, which cuts off any HD callsign that’s longer than 4 characters.  I will have to see if my other radios, such as the Insignia NS-HD01, shows a longer HD callsign.  Once I know, I’ll report here.

 

HD Radio returns to Washington’s 91.9 WGTS

While scanning the FM dial the other day, I noticed that HD Radio has returned to 91.9 WGTS Takoma Park, MD, a local radio station of mine.  WGTS, which serves the Washington, DC area, first turned on its HD Radio signal in 2015, but turned it off in 2018.  The station was analog-only in the meantime before IBOC was turned back on this year.

The return of HD Radio on WGTS is a downside toward the hobby of DXing in my area.  While WGTS was analog-only, 92.1 FM was wide open for receiving distant radio signals.  Now that WGTS resumed HD broadcasting, 92.1 FM is now blocked out for regular DXing, since one of WGTS’ two digital sidebands is broadcasted on 92.1 FM.  Only strong DX will come in on 92.1 FM over WGTS’ digital sideband in the future.  The same thing applies to 91.7 FM, the frequency of WGTS’ other digital sideband, but 91.7 FM was desensitized to distant DX signals at my home already, as nearby 91.5 WBJC Baltimore, MD’s 91.7 digital HD sideband often comes in strongly, also blocking DX on that frequency.

Since I have purchased the Sangean HDR-14 radio while WGTS was analog-only, I added the HD Radio screenshot below from WGTS to my HD Radio and RDS Screenshots page.  I also updated my local FM radio stations page to reflect the new developments with WGTS.

RDS returns to 99.1 WDCH-FM Bowie, MD after three-year hiatus

One of the few full-power radio stations in the Washington, DC area that did not run RDS now does.  I first noticed RDS running on 99.1 WDCH-FM Bowie, MD, a local station of mine, in 2006 when I bought my first RDS-capable radio.  I’m not sure how long the station ran RDS before that.  However, in 2016 when the signal flipped from news to business news, the RDS disappeared.  While scanning the FM dial on December 29, 2019, I found the station was once again broadcasting RDS.  I have added the RDS screenshots below to my Woodbridge, VA RDS/HD Radio Screenshots page.

 

Mistaken identity and radio station loggings

One of the most important things a DXer must do if they are serious with the hobby is be certain that the signals that they log are truthful, accurate, and honest.  This has been one of the major rules that I have followed in my 20+ years of FM, AM, and TV DXing.  Thankfully, modern technology such as Google, live streaming, HD Radio, RDS, and audio recording have made researching and positively IDing radio stations something relatively easy to do.  Even with these tools available, extreme caution must still be made to ensure that one doesn’t inadvertently log the wrong radio station.

I rarely log any radio station, AM or FM, without some sort of confirmation that it is, in fact, the station I heard.  This positive ID may come via a station ID, local ads, or an HD Radio or RDS decode.  Or, I may match a station to its live webstream and, after confirming it isn’t part of a nationwide radio network, consider it a positive log.  This has been the tried-and-true method of identifying signals ever since I started DXing in 1999.

It is rare for me to be scratching my head after hearing such a positive ID, but that is exactly what happened to me on December 16.  On November 26, wrote how I logged my all-time distance record for all broadcast bands, 600 CJWW from Saskatoon, SK, a classic country station named “Country 600 CJWW.”  CJWW was 1690 miles away from where I received it in Springfield, VA.  Part of the frustration I faced with CJWW was that my recorder wasn’t running, so although I did hear a positive ID, I didn’t have “proof” of it to present on this blog.  On December 26, I heard country music again on AM 600 while driving in Springfield and I hit “record.”

As heard in the above audio clip, the DJ gives the weather forecast in Celsius (indicative of the signal being from Canada), and she invites listeners to text the station at #269269.  She then gives the “Country 600” station ID.  I was ecstatic–I finally had an audio recording of my furthest broadcast logging.  But something didn’t seem right.  A simple Google search came up with a different result: the DJ was giving a forecast for 17 degrees, but the temperature in Saskatoon was forecast to be -25 Celsius at the same time.  The 269269 text number, per Google, belonged to another radio station with the same name as CJWW: 600 CKAT North Bay, ON, at 524 miles away.

Graphics referencing the #269269 texting code from CKAT on their website. Image credit: CKAT/Rogers Media.

The audio clip above is a slam-dunk positive ID of CKAT.  There’s no question that I heard that signal on December 16.  But what does that mean for my previous logging of CJWW, which also identified as “Country 600?”  Does this mean that I never logged CJWW, and that I, in fact, heard CKAT instead?  Common logic would dictate that the answer would be yes, since CKAT is 1166 miles closer than CJWW.

Interestingly, the answer is actually “no.”  I distinctly heard the DJ say “CJWWradio.com” during my logging of CJWW earlier this year.  CKAT’s website is www.country600.com.  The Saskatechewan station also identified as “Country 600 CJWW” a few times during my intial logging, while CKAT IDed as simply “Country 600.”  Although I don’t have audio proof of my logging of CJWW (much to my frustration), their callsign was what I heard and, thus, proves that I heard both CJWW and CKAT.  This is a rare situation where two stations on the same frequency have the same name and, even so, constitute separate logs.

I have added CKAT’s logging to my AM DX log.  I will update this blog when (and if) I log CJWW again and record a clip from the signal.

Recent AM DX, 37 new AM logs (audio)

I have logged 37 new AM logs between November 24 and December 12, 2019.  Click on an audio link below to hear corresponding audio from each applicable station below.  These signals have been added to my AM DX Log.

All-time radio signal distance record achieved: 600 CJWW logged at 1690 miles

While sitting in my car in a parking lot in Springfield, VA on November 26, I heard country music on 600 AM.  It was unusual, as the frequency is usually either gospel WCAO from nearby Baltimore, MD, or Radio Rebelde from Cuba.  The country signal was very weak, but it faded in right at the right moment.  I heard an ID: “Country 600,” and mentions of “CIWW Radio.com.”  I thought it was, at first, CIWW from Ottawa and that it moved from its previously-logged frequency of 1310.  Upon researching the signal after I got home, I realized I heard “CJWW” instead of CIWW and that the station was, in fact, broadcasting from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan of all places–1690 miles away from my location in Northern Virginia.

CJWW is my new my all-time radio reception signal distance record, unseating 94.1 KZOR Hobbs, NM, which I logged on 7/7/2006 at 1505 miles.  Unfortunately, I was not recording audio during my reception of CJWW.  A similar phenomenon happened during KZOR’s reception–I was recording directly to audio CD at the time, but the CD failed to burn properly, rendering my recording of KZOR permanently ruined, resulting with me having no proof of its reception.  Murphy’s Law strikes again.

Long-range AM reception is rare, from my experience.  The AM stations I usually receive at my home are 600 miles away or closer, with a few outliers such as 1200 WOAI San Antonio, TX, an occasional visitor to Virginia at 1346 miles away.  I think that the time zone difference had something to do with my reception of CJWW, as it was only 5:26 PM local time when I picked them up.  CJWW was likely still on its daytime signal pattern of 25 KW, versus its 8 KW nighttime array.

My AM DX Log has been updated with my logging of CJWW.

Recent AM DX: 32 new AM logs

Although FM DXing has quieted down for the year with the rush of cool air to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, the opposite is happening to the AM dial.  AM DX is heading toward its annual peak, and with that comes with scores of new AM logs heard at all times of the day.  In recent weeks, I have received 32 new AM logs from the following stations–one of them my first-ever log on 1490 AM.

My AM DX Log has been updated with these new logs:

  • 570 WKBN Youngstown, OH, 11/13/2019 8:48 PM, “News Radio 570” – news, 239 miles
  • 590 WMBS Uniontown, PA, 11/19/2019 1:49 AM, nostalgia, 156 miles
  • 610 WTVN Columbus, OH, 11/19/2019 2:07 AM, “News Radio 610 WTVN” – news, 317 miles
  • 670 WLUI Lewistown, PA, 11/23/2019 4:25 PM, “92.9 and 670 The Big Lewie” – oldies, 122 miles
  • 680 WKAZ Charleston, WV, 11/17/2019 4:43 PM, 232 miles
  • 800 WNNW Lawrence, MA, 11/17/2019 2:43 AM, spanish, 244 miles
  • 800 WSVS Crewe, VA, 11/22/2019 8:35 AM, “Pure Country WSVS” – country, 111 miles
  • 870 WPWT Colonial Heights, TN, 11/19/2019 1:52 AM, “96.3 The Possum” – country, 322 miles
  • 910 WLAT New Britain, CT, 11/23/2019 5:44 PM, spanish, 312 miles
  • 940 WKYK Burnsville, NC, 11/19/2019 1:54 AM, “Country 940 WKYK’ – country, 333
  • 960 WELI New Haven, CT, 11/10/2019 6:23 PM, “960 WELI” – news, 296 miles
  • 990 WNTY Southington, CT, 11/17/2019 4:46 PM, “Kool 990” – oldies, 307 miles
  • 1060 WQOM Natic, MA, 11/17/2019 3:09 AM, religious, 395 miles
  • 1090 WENR Englewood, TN, 11/23/2019 5:50 PM, “Mighty 1090 WENR” – gospel, 458 miles
  • 1150 WBAG Burlington-Graham, NC, 11/19/2019 7:41 PM, 212 miles
  • 1160 WCCS Homer City, PA, 11/10/2019 6:42 AM, “WCCS AM 1160 & 101.1 FM” – talk, groundwave, 166 miles
  • 1250 WARE Ware, MA, 11/17/2019 2:53 AM, “Classic Hits 97.7” – classic hits, 191 miles
  • 1260 C??? Media Luna, Cuba, 11/23/2019 5:53 PM, “Radio Progreso” – spanish
  • 1290 WFBG Altoona, PA, 11/21/2019 8:32 AM, “Big 1290” – talk, 137 miles
  • 1330 WBTM Danville, VA, 11/21/2019 8:44 AM, “105-7 Coastal Country” – country, 184 miles
  • 1350 WOYK York, PA, 11/23/2019 4:30 PM, “Sports Radio 98.9 & WOYK 1350” – sports, 79 miles
  • 1380 WKDM New York, NY, 11/22/2019 2:02 AM, asian, 226 miles
  • 1390 WFBL Syracuse, NY, 11/13/2019 12:26 AM, “94.1, 95.3, 103.9 The Dinosaur” – classic hits, 315 miles
  • 1400 WAVQ Jacksonville, NC, 11/22/2019 2:13 AM, classic hits, 269 miles
  • 1410 WNER Watertown, NY, 11/17/2019 2:58 AM, “FOX Sports Radio” – sports, 371 miles
  • 1430 WTNA Altoona, PA, 11/17/2019 3:01 AM, “Toona 1430” – oldies, 140 miles
  • 1440 WAJR Morgantown, WV, 11/21/2019 8:36 AM, “104.5 and 1440 WAJR” – news, 162 miles
  • 1490 WARK Hagerstown, MD, 11/17/2019 5:47 PM, “98.9 FM & AM 1490 WARK” – talk, 70 miles
  • 1610 CHRN Montreal, QC, 11/22/2019 2:20 AM, ethnic, 503 miles
  • 1620 C??? Cuba, 11/23/2019 5:56 PM, “Radio Rebelde” – spanish
  • 1660 W??? Chantilly, VA, 11/23/2019 6:38 PM, National Air & Space Museum information
  • 1700 WRCR Ramapo, NY, 11/21/2019 8:39 AM, “1700 WRCR” – AC, 241 miles

New travel DX logs added from Colorado and New Mexico

In connection with my quest of visiting all 50 U.S. states, I just got back from a trip to Durango, CO, Albuquerque, NM, and Santa Fe, NM.  I DXed the FM band extensively in each city.  I also updated my existing Baltimore, MD travel DX log with a few new stations.  The new logs below have been added to my DX Logs page.

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

2016-post-trThe 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.