During the evening hours of June 8, Sporadic E-enhanced signals were heard at my Northern Virginia home — the first Sporadic E reception observed by me in 2019. About 45 seconds total of FM Es came into my Airspy R2 radio on June 8 between 8:34 PM and 8:52 PM. It is unclear what stations were coming in and from where, since the signals were so brief. Here’s a rundown of what I heard:
88.9 – fade-up of Christian contemporary music a few times over the span of a few minutes on top of weak semi-local 88.9 WEAA Baltimore, MD (59 miles)
93.5 – strong classic rock fade-up for a few seconds over weak regional tropo from 93.5 WZBH Georgetown, DE (106 miles)
95.1 – a second of country music heard over a listenable regional tropo signal from 95.1 WAYV Atlantic City, NJ (158 miles) (strangely, normally-heard semi-local 95.1 WRBS Baltimore, MD was missing)
All in all, nothing to write home about, but it is good to see that Sporadic E is still alive and well. This is also the first FM Es opening in two years received at my home that occurred into the 8PM hour.
As soon as I wrote about the lack of FM Es in the later months of the summer, a brief Sporadic E opening hit the dials outside of the usual “9-5 M-F” schedule that FM Es has largely followed this year. At 7:22 PM, an unidentified NPR station came in on 89.1 FM, and by 7:35 PM, 92.3 KKGQ and 93.5 KDGS, both relogs, briefly came in with an unidentified AC station on 98.1. The opening, which had signals for about 2 minutes cumulatively, quickly dissipated without any fanfare, with a MUF of 98.1.
92.3 KKGQ Newton, KS, e-skip, 1089 miles
93.5 KDGS Andover, KS, e-skip, 1088 miles
It started out with a bang but ended without fanfare. The 2018 Sporadic E-Skip Season is no more, but even though this season has failed to live up to what I thought it would be, I still feel like it was a step in the right direction.
Sporadic E is a method of signal propagation that, when in effect, allows broadcast signals to be received up to 1500 miles away with clear local reception. It can happen any time of the year, but it is most common during the summer months.
When I started to monitor daily for FM Es in 2006, living in the summer months usually meant having to plan everything around an always-present Sporadic E opening. I’ve turned down social invitations and put off errands countless times because a mammoth FM Es opening was brewing on the dial. Beginning in 2009, Sporadic E came in less and less, getting progressively got worse each year until it hit a lowpoint in 2017, where I only received 33 minutes total of Sporadic E the entire season — compared to 1471 minutes in 2014.
On the surface, 2018 seemed to be the first skip season in years where things started to turn around. This year, I received 347 total minutes of skip with 5 new FM logs from 8 openings. During this season, I logged my 1900th FM station, and 4 of my 5 new FM logs were received from one unattended opening on 6/6/18.
I was on vacation on June 16-24, 2018. During that time I had two FM Es openings: one on 6/20/18 while I was outside of New York, NY, which lasted 100 minutes and brought in 26 stations from the Midwest and Upper Midwest. This opening was very strong, with many distant signals toppling the local NYC FM stations in a manner that I haven’t seen since 2016. Another respectable opening into the same general area was also observed on 6/26/18 while I was in Providence, RI, with a few RDS decodes but not as strong as the NYC opening. Within the same time period and weeks thereafter, reports of top-of-the-band FM Es from other DXers flooded into
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 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.
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
While in Providence, RI on June 23, I experienced a brief FM E-Skip opening into the Midwest and Upper Midwest. This was surprising to me, given how saturated the RF is in the Providence area, with a full dial of local Providence stations, and almost every non-local frequency filled with semi-local signals within 50 miles from Boston. The Sporadic E opening lasted about 20 minutes and had a MUF of 106.1 FM. There were several signals that I couldn’t identify, however.
Updated 6/25/18: I added the screenshots from the signals received via Sporadic E, as well as other local New York-area stations, to myNew York City travel RDS/HD Radio screenshotspage. Also, upon further review, I realized that my logging listed below from 99.3 WPBX was actually tropo from 99.3 WMNP Block Island, RI, 108 miles from where I was DXing in Greenwich, CT. The New York Excel log has been updated with this change.
While traveling in the New York City area on June 20, I found that the FM band was wide open to the Midwest. For about two solid hours (save for a 20 minute dropout), multiple frequencies were full of rapidly fading signals making it impossible to ID. Some of the local New York stations at 26 miles away were gone with distant signals coming in over them–the only one I could identify was 94.7 KSHE over NYC’s 94.7 WNSH. The MUF of the opening was 106.5 MHz, but I saw reports online of a 162 MHz MUF nearby. Although I was about 230 miles away from my home when I logged these signals, this was the first FM Es opening in ages that actually occurred beyond the 9-5 workday hours, when I can’t DX due to my work schedule. My New York, NY travel DX log has been updated with the stations listed below. Again, these stations were received just north of New York City, not at my home in Virginia.
June 15 seemed to be another great Sporadic E-skip day on the U.S. east coast. I read reports for a few hours of people in nearby states getting skip to 107.9 FM. Yet, when I got home from work at about 7:30 PM, my two radios, which were set to record on 96.7 and 98.1 FM, didn’t pick up any FM Es. I did hear about 30 seconds of an unidentified country station on 92.3 FM coming in on my car radio while driving home at about 7PM, briefly, over semi-local 92.3 WERQ Baltimore, MD, but nothing else. 2018 seems to be a good year so far in terms of skip, but the problem is that the skip only happens during normal business hours during the week, when I cannot be at a radio. This is unlike previous years, where FM Sporadic E would happen well into the 9PM hour.
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.