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.
A popular nationwide Christian contemporary radio network has debuted in Washington, DC, leaving the nation’s sixth-largest radio market without a hot adult contemporary-formatted station.
107.3 WRQX Washington, DC, known for years as hot adult contemporary “Mix 107-3”, flipped to “K-Love” at 7:00 PM May 31, following a live farewell show hosted by longtime morning show host Jack Diamond. WRQX, along with radio stations in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Savannah, and Syracuse, were recently purchased by Educational Media Foundation as part of a major multi-market station deal announced in March, making them the newest members of the 440+ station K-Love network.
At 7PM, listeners watching a live video simulcast of Diamond’s last show on the program’s Facebook page watched Diamond send off the station with their legal ID, followed by a fancy song about the morning show. Those listening on 107.3 FM at the same time, however, only got to hear a second or so of the song before dead air cut in. The audio feed was then abruptly switched over to the national K-Love broadcast, which was already in the middle of a song. After a few songs, DJs acknowledged the addition of WRQX and other stations to the K-Love umbrella.
Click here to hear the format flip:
The intellectual property of WRQX, including its call letters, station name, and logo, still belong to Cumulus. The former signal owners temporarily parked the WRQX calls on one of their co-owned AM radio stations in Ohio and put that station’s calls, WSOM, on DC’s 107.3, according to RadioInsight.com.
EMF, however, is not referencing WSOM in their new K-Love legal ID. Instead, they are identifying DC’s 107.3 as WLVW, a call sign that will become official in the coming weeks. Until that happens, however, EMF is technically airing an incorrect legal ID for their new signal. WSOM is the first new callsign for DC’s 107.3 since 1979. The WLVW calls used to be on 105.5 FM in Salisbury, MD. That station is now WLSW.
Click here to hear the new WLVW legal ID:
Making things even more complicated, as of midnight June 1, the call letters seen on HD Radios tuning in the station’s digital signal still display the old WRQX calls, even though the signal is identifying as WLVW and its real callsign is WSOM.
News of impending sale was not actively mentioned on WRQX until May 28, when Diamond announced it on his morning show. Afterward, farewells poured into the station, both on-air and on their social media accounts. Although no specifics were given at the time, Diamond allued to his show being resurrected on another area radio station after the flip.
The current incarnation of 107.3, WSOM, does not air RDS anymore, although it did hours earlier in the same day as WRQX. I expect this to change soon, given that RDS is in heavy use with other K-Love signals that I have received in other locations.
The former Mix 107.3 website now redirects to the website of cross-town iHeart-owned 99.5 WIHT. A message on the station’s website welcomes former Mix 107.3 listeners to their station. WRQX’s former Facebook and Twitter pages were still operational an hour after the format flip, but were taken down as of 9:15 PM May 31.
The format change leaves a gaping format hole in the Nation’s Capitol. As of June 1, there are no signals within 40 miles of Washington broadcasting an hot AC format. None of the few hot AC signals located 40-60 miles away from DC provide a reliable signal into office buildings in the city. The closest Washington has to the format is local adult contemporary 97.1 WASH, which airs more 80s music and softer tunes than what was heard on WRQX.
Since Cumulus still owns the WRQX callsign and intellectual property, they can debut it on any other signal they own. In Washington, Cumulus owns 105.9 WMAL Woodbridge, VA and they lease 99.1 WDCH Bowie, MD to Bloomberg Radio. It is unclear if the company plans to flip one of those stations to “Mix” as WRQX, or if they would do so on a completely unrelated station they own outside of Washington.
Today’s format flip presents a huge opportunity for another station group in the Washington market to flip one of their own signals to hot AC to undermine Cumulus and derail any chances of WRQX returning to the airwaves on a different frequency. Ironically, this is the second time within a year that Washington has lost a hot AC-formatted signal. 94.7 WIAD Bethesda, MD, which was hot AC for nine years, flipped to 80s-leaning classic hits in October 2018.
The K-Love network has been absent from the Washington region up until now, save for a random translator here and there. In 2017, EMF purchased rimshot 94.3 WWXX Buckland, VA and turned it into a K-Love signal as WLZV. This, however, didn’t result in much exposure to the Washington market, since DC has a low power FM signal on the same frequency in the city that blocks WLZV’s signal. It is unclear if WLZV will remain with K-Love or switch to sister network Air 1 now, given how strong WRQX’s signal is in the region and WLZV’s broadcast area.
WRQX has aired an hot AC format as “Mix 107.3” since 1990, save for when it was CHR between 2013 and 2015. In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, it was CHR as “Q107.”
The first great overnight tropo opening of 2019 occurred on May 23 and with it is my first new FM log of the year. Signals were strong from the usual areas: Salisbury, MD (90 miles), Norfolk, VA (130 miles), and a few coastal North Carolina signals up to 200 miles away.
87.7 FM in my area is home to a local signal, WDCN-LP Alexandria, VA at 10 miles. The frequency occasionally gets taken over by WNDC-LP in Salisbury, MD. Both WDCN-LP and WNDC-LP run a Spanish format. When I heard urban music on 87.7 on May 23, I knew it was something else.
87.7 WMTO-LP Moyock, NC, “Streetz 87-7” – urban, 134 miles over local WDCN-LP
My logging of WMTO-LP has been added to my FM DX Log.
New screenshots added:
May 23 was also a great opportunity for me to get new screenshots from my recently-purchased Sangean HDR-14 radio. I added the following HD Radio and RDS screenshots to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots page from previously-received stations:
89.5 WHRV Norfolk, VA, 135 miles
90.1 WHRX Nassawadox, VA, 108 miles over local WCSP
91.9 WHRE Eastville, VA, 115 miles over local WGTS
92.9 WVBW Suffolk, VA, 132 miles
93.7 WNOB Chesapeake, VA, 158 miles
94.9 WPTE Virginia Beach, VA, 188 miles
95.7 WVKL Norfolk, VA, 135 miles
95.9 WKZP West Ocean City, MD, 116 miles
96.7 WKJX Elizabeth City, NC, 186 miles
97.7 WGTI Winfall, NC, 180 miles
98.1 WOCM Selbyville, DE, 116 miles
98.3 WHRF Belle Haven, VA, 108 miles over local WSMD
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
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
For the first time since 2016, a respectable Sporadic E-Skip opening was received in Virginia. During the opening, I logged my 1900th FM station ever received. The day also marked the second time in 19 years that I received a radio station from Mexico.
I had to work all day and wasn’t able to DX my radios live, but I fared pretty well with two radios set to record from 89.1 and 93.5 FM. The skip started in my car as I was headed to work at 8:52 AM with an unID 88.1 signal with undecoded RDS. My home radios didn’t get any FM Es until 10:54 AM, when signals from south Florida boomed in for over three hours. An outlier fade-in from Nebraska was also heard at one point. The FM Es abruptly ended at 3:14 PM, and then returned at 6:05 PM for about 2 minutes into the Cancun area. A few brief returns of FM Es during the 6PM and 7PM hours, totaling about 15 more minutes, happened before the marathon opening finally ended. Overall, 208 minutes of FM Es was observed on June 6, which is 6.3 times as many minutes as heard during the entire 2017 FM Es season, and half of what was heard in the entire 2016 FM Es season.
While in my car located in Sterling, VA on February 24, I received three new stations and picked up RDS from four other previously-logged signals that I had not received RDS from before. I consider any new signal received within 30 miles of my home to be eligible to be added to my FM DX Log. As Sterling, VA is 25 miles northwest of my home, the signals below are eligible to be added. My FM DX Log, HD Radio/RDS Screenshots, and Audio pages have been updated with the new content below.
101.7 W269DH Leesburg, VA, ethnic, 10 miles
102.1 W271BR Winchester, VA, “The Joy FM” – ccm, 47 miles
103.3 WTCF Wardensville, WV, “K-Love” – ccm, 54 miles
An tropo opening brought in signals up to 240 miles into Virginia Beach and coastal North Carolina on October 22, including a new translator on 100.1, a frequency usually full of IBOC interference from local 100.3 WBIG. Also in were first-time HD Radio and RDS decodes from multiple signals. My DX log,RDS/HD Radio Screenshots, and Audio pages have been updated with the new content below.
100.1 W261DI Norfolk, VA, 10/22/17, tropo, 138 miles
New content from relogs:
First-time HD decode from 88.5 WHRG Gloucester Point, VA, 99 miles, 10/22/17, tropo over local WAMU
First-time RDS decodes from 101.5 WOWZ Chincoteague, VA, 10/22/17, 108 miles, tropo over local WBQB
First-time HD decode from 106.1 WUSH Poquoson, VA, 10/22/17, 107 miles, tropo
First time HD and RDS decodes from 107.7 WMOV Norfolk, VA, 10/22/17, 138 miles over local WWWT
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.