Tropo reception has picked up for the second day in a row in Northern Virginia. During the early morning hours of October 5, signals were enhanced up to 150 miles away into southeast Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, with many signals coming in over locals (94.7 WDSD over local WIAD, WJBR over local WIHT, 101.1 WBEB over local WWDC, among others). For the first time, I logged 105.5 WAIV, a pleasant surprise, given 105.5 is crowded frequency in this area, usually occupied by nearby translator W288BS Reston VA, WRAR Tappahannock, VA, WOJL Louisa, VA, and other signals.
105.5 WAIV Cape May Court House, NJ, 10/5/17, tropo, 135 miles
I also logged RDS for the first time from relog 90.3 WNJZ.
90.3 WNJZ Cape May Court House, NJ, 10/5/17, tropo, 135 miles
During minor tropospheric enhancement in the past week, I received two new stations. 105.7 WQXA came in briefly over semi-local 105.7 WJZ Baltimore. WJZ is usually with RDS strength at my home, so receiving WQXA was a welcome surprise. I’ve been trying to get WQXA for years. A few days before WQXA’s logging, I received 19 WCAV from Charlottesville, VA. Ever since I started to DX digital TV again last month, I often received a weak DTV signal on channel 19 below the threshold to decode an identifiable signal. That changed on August 13 with a positive logging.
It’s a rarity these days that tropo under 150 miles brings in any new stations, but that is exactly what happened during the early morning hours of June 16. I received strong tropo from the Delmarva Eastern Shore and with it, three new signals, two over local frequencies. 88.5 WHRG was found on a whim when tuning by local WAMU. I heard a slight “repeat” in the NPR audio superimposed over WAMU and found out it was an entirely different station I didn’t know existed. 101.5 WOWZ has been on my radar since they signed on last year, but I didn’t think I’d get them over local WBQB, which is a very strong signal at my home. Equally surprising was 105.7 W289CE. I thought it was 105.7 WRSF from Coastal NC, but it was coming in way too strong, and the other usual coastal NC relog signals that appear with WRSF were absent. I’m glad I kept on listening. I also added 25 new RDS signals from relogs; 98.3 WHRL’s RDS being the first time received from that station. My DX Logs, Audio and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been added with the new content below.
88.5 WHRG Gloucester Point, VA, 99 miles, over local WAMU
101.5 WOWZ Chincoteague, VA, 108 miles, over local WBQB
The weak, peekaboo “here one second, gone the next” Sporadic E that I’ve seen so far in the 2017 season continued on June 13. At about 4:00 PM, I found signals from Arkansas and Kansas coming into Northern Virginia. Although I had to do some non radio-related things during the opening, I found incoming signals from Minnesota and Nebraska before the opening died at about 5:17 PM, roughly 10 minutes of cumulative skip with a MUF of 105.3 FM. Interestingly, much like the May 28, 2017 opening, I managed to log 4 new stations–something that is usually very difficult to achieve with weak and short openings, which usually only yield relogs. My Audio page has been updated with the new clips below.
@ = new
89.3 unID talk over local WPFW Washington, DC
@ 90.3 KANQ Chanute, KS, 999 miles
92.7 unID CHR over local WDCJ Prince Frederick, MD
95.3 KDJS Willmar, MN, 1022 miles
95.7 WRQT La Crosse, WI, 804 miles
@ 95.7 KDAL Duluth, MN, 937 miles
@ 95.7 KMKO Lake Crystal, MN, 956 miles
95.7 KKOK Morris, MN, 1064 miles
95.7 unID spanish, suspect KSEC Bentonville, AR
96.9 KZKX Seward, NE, 1049 miles
97.5 unID rock
97.5 KDKK Park Rapids, MN, 1061 miles
98.1 unID sports, suspect WWLS The Village, OK
98.5 unID country
@ 99.3 KTPG Paragould, AR, 758 miles
99.7 unID country
99.7 unID classic rock
105.3 unID DJ talk
In a totally unexpected turn of events, I received the first new TV station in almost 4 years — without a TV. As you may know, analog TV 6 is about 87.75 FM. After the 2009 DTV transition, many major markets gained an LPTV station on these frequencies, Washington, DC included. Over time, many of them converted their audio to FM stereo, often also with RDS. DC’s 87.7 WDCN-LP does just this.
WDCN’s signal is very weak at my home. I was trying to fine tune reception during a minor tropo opening on June 11. Unexpectedly, I received another station over WDCN, WNDC-LP from Salisbury, MD. Since this is technically a TV station, my TV Log have been updated with this new station. I also decided to list 87.7 FM signals in my FM Log since they are, for all intents and purposes, received and operate as FM signals, but they are only counted as TV stations in my totals. My Audio section was also updated with WNDC’s clip below.
The 2017 Sporadic E-Skip season is officially underway in Northern Virginia after an average opening on May 28 brought in signals from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas into my area. The skip started shortly after 4:20 PM and dipped out of FM a few minutes later. It came back a little stronger about an hour and a half later, ending abruptly at about 6:50 PM. All in all, about 10 minutes cumulative of skip. The MUF, or maximum usable frequency, of the opening was 106.1 FM. My DX Log, RDS/HD Radio Screenshots, and Audio pages have been updated with the new content below.
@ = new
88.1 KLBT Beaumont, TX, “88.1 KLBT” – ccm, 1108 miles
88.7 unID public radio
89.1 unID religious
91.5 KGRM Grambling, LA, RDS hit, 782 miles (undecoded RDS)
93.1 KQID Alexandria, LA, “Q93” – CHR, 972 miles
93.7 KQBT Houston, TX, “93-7 The Beat” – urban, 1214 miles
@ 95.7 KROK South Ft. Polk, LA, “95.7 KROK” – rock, 1046 miles
94.1 WEMX Continue reading →
May 21 was a phenomenal day for tropo in Northern Virginia–the likes of which I haven’t seen in a while. It marks the first true tropo duct in my new home since moving here in March. Throughout the day, the band was open to Ocean City, MD and Delaware, which isn’t unusual at all, just not during the day. RDS from relog 95.3 WKDB Laurel, DE, at 87 miles, was constant at all hours, and through the IBOC hash from my local DC stations, I picked up two new stations, one of them a translator from Delaware.
The main event didn’t happen until about 10:30 PM, when 97.9 WSKQ from New York, NY came in strongly over Baltimore’s WIYY. This happens maybe once every 2-3 years, almost always in the fall, never in the spring like now. WSKQ, at 226 miles away, is the usual “beacon” that alerts me to a tropo duct forming northward. Shortly afterward, New York’s 101.9 WFAN and 107.5 WBLS came in. WBLS, with its HD Radio subdecode, is the furthest northward signal I’ve ever received IBOC from, and WFAN is the furthest northward FM station to decode RDS on my radio via tropo. But like many New York tropo ducts, they don’t last long. The band abruptly dropped back to deadband conditions by 11:45 PM, with a lone HD Radio decode for the first time from Lancaster, PA’s 94.5 WDAC serving as the opening’s goodbye wave.
Weak signal enhancement to central Virginia on May 19 brought in a new signal, 95.3 W237BA. The station, which simulcasts nearby 105.5 WOJL Louisa, VA, airs a classic rock format. The station was received in my car during my commute, less than a mile from my home. Its signal was difficult to get at 178 watts, mixing in with Richmond’s 95.3 WKHK. This marks the first new FM station received in two years on the 95.3 frequency–something mainly due to the frequency normally being cluttered by HD Radio interference from local 95.5 WPGC. Thankfully, WPGC’s IBOC has been off-air for most of this year, opening up 95.3 to regular DX signals in my area.
A seemingly uneventful rainy April day turned out to be anything but that when I logged two new signals on 98.1 FM within one hour of each other. At 2:45 PM on April 22, while in my car in Oxon Hill, MD, I picked up a fairly strong signal on 98.1, airing classic hits and identifying themselves as “Classic Hits 98-1 The Fox.” A quick internet search netted zero results, and I confirmed via webcasts from the closest 98.1s (98.1 WOGL Philadelphia, PA, 98.1 WTVR Richmond, VA, and 98.1 WOCM Selbyville, DE) that they haven’t changed their format and/or name to “The Fox.” The station sounded like a regular FM signal, but it didn’t have any commercials, legal IDs, and barely any liners–most songs dry segued into the next. The strong signal also steeply faded away once I drove out of the shopping center I was parked in, succumbing quickly to regional 98.1 WTVR and IBOC interference from nearby 97.9 WIYY Baltimore, MD. Until I get other confirmation, I am logging this mystery signal as a pirate. I’ll update my logs and this post accordingly if I become aware that this is a licensed FM station or translator.
98.1 PIRATE “98-1 The Fox” – classic rock, car radio in Oxon Hill, MD
Less than an hour later, while driving near my home in Woodbridge, VA, I heard a second new station on 98.1 FM, mixing in with 98.1 WTVR: W264BJ Manassas, VA. This translator, rebroadcasting Spanish-formatted 920 WURA Quantico, VA, has been expected to debut for months now, and now apparently has. Thankfully, its very weak in the car and cannot be received at home, leaving 98.1 as an open frequency. I’ve found a trend of new translators’ signals increasing in strength after debut, so I’m not out of the woods yet.
I am confident that the “98-1 The Fox” signal and the Manassas translator aren’t the same station. The translator is 9 miles away from my home; 17 miles away from Oxon Hill. Given its signal was weak at 9 miles, I’d conclude it is weaker located further away in Oxon Hill, not almost local grade stereo as “The Fox” was. Plus, since I am familiar with WURA-AM, I am certain that it wouldn’t air classic hits in English, and then switch to Spanish music within the same hour. WURA/W264BJ also had DJs on-air, while “The Fox” didn’t.
Both stations have been added to my FM DX Log, and the audio file from the pirate signal has been added to my Audio page.
I noticed while doing a dial scan on February 4 that local 96.3 WHUR had its IBOC off-air, rendering both 96.1 and 96.5 open for DXing. In fact, at the time of writing the next day, WHUR’s IBOC is still off. Later that night, unattended recordings netted a new FM signal, 96.1 WMAX, with a perfectly-timed meteor scatter ping:
96.1 WMAX Holland, MI, 534 miles, “ESPN Radio”
On top of WMAX, the usual regional Tr ‘pests’ located within 70-200 miles that are heard when 96.3 WHUR’s IBOC is off (Norfolk’s 96.1 WROX, Eastern PA’s 96.1 WSOX, and Richmond’s 96.5 WKLR) were received, along with ultra-rare station 96.1 WKST Pittsburgh, PA @ 187 miles. In almost 20 years of DXing, I’ve only received WKST once, in 2006.