FM modulator DX: You never know what you’ll hear

gpsLocal 93.3 WFLS’ HD Radio signal has been off for the past day or two, and in its absence, I have been monitoring 93.5 FM, a frequency that is usually occupied by WFLS’ IBOC interference.  As I live close to a major interstate and several main roads, I often get bits and pieces of audio from motorist-based FM modulators.  These are usually easy to spot, given the audio is often much quieter than a normal FM broadcast.

At 4:37 PM, I picked up something quite intriguing: a turn-by-turn navigation, presumably from a nearby motorists’ cell phone hooked up to an FM modulator on 93.5 FM.

Based on the mileage noted in the clip, the car must’ve been up to 2 miles away from my radios.  Pretty impressive.

Baltimore’s 95.1 WRBS adds HD Radio signal

2016-post-trWhile doing a routine dial scan on January 22, I found 95.1 WRBS from Baltimore has turned on HD Radio service for the first time.  WRBS is a strong, almost local-grade signal at my home, even at 51 miles away.  However, the fact their digital signal decodes is a mystery.  WRBS’ HD Radio sidebands–the frequencies in which it actually broadcasts its digital signal–are 94.9 and 95.3 FM.  At my home, 94.9 also houses local 94.7 WIAD’s IBOC sideband, while local 95.5 WPGC’s IBOC sideband is on 95.3.  The below screenshots from WRBS have been added to my HD Radio/RDS Screenshots page.

wrbs-hd1 wrbs-hd2 wrbs-hd3
95.1 WRBS Baltimore, MD, 51 miles away

UPDATED: ‘Tis the season for new translators. 1 new FM log.

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WOL

UPDATED 12/5/16: I have added an audio file from 95.9 W240DJ to my Audio Files page.  Click on the audio player below to hear this file.

In accordance with a recent trend where new translators and LPFMs have popped up in multiple places on my FM dial in recent months, I have found another new translator, thanks to a news posting about it at DCRTV.com.  While 15 miles NE of my home in Springfield, VA on December 1, I heard The Tom Joyner Morning Show on 95.9 FM, mixing with local 95.9 WGRQ Fairview Beach, VA @ 31 miles.  At home, WGRQ is local-grade, however, in Springfield the signal is slightly weaker, to the point where the unidentified 95.9 signal started to mix in with WGRQ’s signal.  Knowing Tom Joyner is broadcasted on nearby 95.9 WWIN Glen Burnie, MD @ 52 miles, I figured that was what I was getting.  However, since WWIN is only heard during strong tropo events and there were none happening, I decided to listen for a short while.  During a local weather report, the station IDed as “NewsTalk 1450 WOL,” confirming a positive log for the translator W240DJ.  According to DCRTV, the translator is a recent sign-on.  My FM DX Log has been updated to reflect this new logging.

New log:

95.9 W240DJ Washington, DC, “NewsTalk 1450 WOL” – talk, 15 miles from car radio location in Springfield, VA

New HD Radio/RDS decodes from two relogs added

2016-post-trWhile in Manassas, VA on November 24, I received RDS for the first time from 102.5 WUSQ and HD Radio reception from 106.9 WWEG.  IBOC interference from local 106.7 WJFK drowns out WWEG at home to the point where typical analog reception, let alone an IBOC decode, from WWEG is impossible.  However, WWEG came in with HD reception and WUSQ came in with RDS 15 miles west of my home in Manassas.  My HD Radio/RDS Screenshots page was updated with these new screenshots.

Relogs received:

wusq
102.5 WUSQ Winchester, VA, “Q102” – country, 65 miles

wweg3
106.9 WWEG Hagerstown, MD, “106.9 The Eagle” – classic hits, 60 miles

Woodstock, VA travel DX log updated with new HD Radio/RDS screenshots

2016-post-trI added many new HD Radio and RDS screenshots to my Woodstock, VA travel log on November 25.  Although the majority of these signals are my local signals from home, they are distant signals in Woodstock.  For most of these stations, the screenshots below are from the first time I received IBOC reception from them.  The page has been added to reflect these new screenshots.

Relogs received:

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88.5 WAMU Washington, DC, “88.5 WAMU” – public radio, 75 miles

woodstock-112516-919
91.9 WGTS Takoma Park, MD, “91.9 WGTS” – ccm, 82 Continue reading

Translator update: FM dial is worse in Northern Virginia

transistor-radioThree years ago, I wrote about the rising amount of FM translators that have popped up in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and its effect on FM DXing.  I am updating this article as the local radio landscape has greatly changed since my original 2013 article.

FM translators are low power rebroadcasts of either a full service FM or AM signal.  Or, they can be a relay of an HD Radio subchannel of a nearby signal.  LPFMs, or low-powered radio stations, on the other hand, can originate their own programming and often operate as a community radio station, complete with live and local content.

For the most part, the radio dial in Northern Virginia is much worse than it was in 2013 due to the existence of these signals.  Many of my good, quiet DXing frequencies are gone, replaced instead by a repeater of a signal that I can already get strong elsewhere on Continue reading

Another new FM translator found in Northern Virginia. 1 new FM log.

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WFAX

While scanning the dial early this morning, just hours after logging new signal 96.1 WCTO, I heard religious talk on 100.7 FM.  Come to find out, I was picking up another new signal, 100.7 W264DB Falls Church, VA, which relays 1220 WFAX.  Thankfully, W264DB is fairly weak at home and I should still get some good tropo or Sporadic E on 100.7 during favorable conditions.  My FM DX Log has been updated to reflect this new logging.

New log:
100.7 W264DB Falls Church, VA, “WFAX 1220 AM” – religious, 15 miles

Local 96.3 IBOC off; 1 new FM log

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WCTO

HD Radio service from Washington’s 96.3 WHUR has been offline in the past 24 hours, which has allowed signals to come in on 96.1 and 96.5 FM–two frequencies that are usually rendered useless in my area due to the interference caused by WHUR’s IBOC sidebands.

While WHUR’s IBOC was off, I received several relogs, including 96.1 WROX Exmore, VA @ 118 mi, 96.1 WSOX Red Lion, PA @ 93 mi, and 96.5 WKLR Ft. Lee, VA @ 92 mi.  At 6:30 PM on October 30, I received a signal for the first time from 96.1 WCTO Easton, PA.  My FM DX Log has been updated to reflect this new logging.

New log:

96.1 WCTO Easton, PA, “Cat Country 96” – country, 165 miles

Goodbye, 92.9 FM

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WTNT

And just like that, my best frequency for DXing for the past 17 years is no more.  Once free from any HD Radio interference or tropo pests within 120 miles and my best spot on the dial for detecting early Sporadic E openings, 92.9 FM is now occupied by a new, very strong translator in Northern Virginia.  It seemed to have signed on in the past few days.

The signal, W227BM, apparently a construction permit to a Washington, DC move-in from nearby Winchester, VA’s 93.3 FM, rebroadcasts 730 WTNT Alexandria, VA with mono audio.  My FM DX Log and Local FM Stations pages have been updated with this new logging.

Prior to W227BM signing on, I received almost 50 signals on 92.9 FM via tropo, Sporadic E and meteor scatter since 1999.  To be honest, I was expecting this frequency’s availability for DXing to end any time now, given how translators are popping up exponentially in the past year and how this was the last true free spot on the local dial.

92.9, it was great while it lasted.

New log:
92.9 W227BM Centreville, VA, “La Capital” – spanish, 14 miles