First-time HD Radio and RDS decodes from many regional stations received

May 31 and June 1 have been phenomenal regional tropo days in Northern Virginia.  Although the radio dial didn’t expand too far beyond the usual 100-mile range for typical signals, the quality of signals within that range increased stronger than usual to the point where I received HD Radio or RDS for the first time from previously-logged stations.  HD Radio decoded from Baltimore-area 89.7 WTMD and 95.9 WWIN for the first time since I added IBOC capabilities to my shack in 2008, received right over local 89.7 W209BY and semi-local 95.9 WGRQ, respectively.  WTMD was a surprise, as I was unaware that they broadcasted IBOC.  Longtime tropo signals 101.7 WKWI and 104.9 WIGO from Virginia’s Northern Neck also came in with RDS for the first time.  Although the highlights are below, I added 18 more screenshots from other stations to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots page.

89.7 WTMD Towson, MD, 61 miles

95.9 WWIN Glen Burnie, MD, 52 miles

101.7 WKWI Kilmarnock, VA, 80 miles

104.9 WIGO White Stone, VA, 82 miles

First FM Es opening of 2017 into LA, MS, TX. 3 new FM logs.

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

UPDATED: The tale of two DX shacks

My main DX shack as of 5/17/17. Click to enlarge.

Updated 6/11/17: Since writing this article, I’ve found myself in my upstairs “secondary” shack DXing most of the time, and I’ve found more signals being received upstairs.  Therefore, I decided to make my upstairs shack my primary shack, while keeping an HD Radio-capable tuner downstairs in my office, as I do get quite a few signals from the north better downstairs that are eclipsed with stronger signals from the south upstairs.  See more in my Working Conditions page.

The article below will continue as originally published on 5/27/17…

When you are unable to utilize a roof antenna, one of the most important things you can do is find the best place for your indoor antennas and radios.  Failure to find the perfect spot could mean the difference between getting great DX, or getting nothing.  What if you were in a situation where you had no idea where to put your radios?

This is exactly what happened to me upon moving to my new home in March 2017.  My home is a two-floor condo, consisting of a portion of the 3rd and 4th floors of my four-floor building.  The majority of my home is on the 3rd floor, while a small loft that overlooks the main living area is upstairs.  For ease of understanding, in this article, “downstairs” will refer to the 3rd floor, while “upstairs” will refer to the 4th floor.

My main shack, located in my office downstairs, is in front of a window that has a clear, unobstructed view of to the N, NE, and E for about six miles with lower land in all directions.  Overall, it is a spectacular spot for DX.

During the first month or so in my new home under deadband conditions and utilizing dipole antennas, I enjoyed frequent reception under 100 miles to the Maryland Eastern Shore, a common market heard in my Northern Virginia home.  I rarely got any reception to the south, which was expected, given the Continue reading

Superb tropo opening into New York City; Long Island 5/21/17. 3 new FM stations and HD/RDS records made

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.

@ = new

@ 88.7 WKNZ Harrington, DE, 93 miles

94.5 WDAC Lancaster, PA, 101 miles

@ 97.5 WALK Patchogue, NY, 271 miles

97.9 WSKQ New York, NY, 226 miles

101.9 WFAN New York, NY, 225 miles Continue reading

Tr opening 5/19/17. 1 new FM log.

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.

95.3 W237BA Culpeper, VA, 39 miles

My DX Log and Audio Files pages have been updated with the above content.

Review of the Insignia NS-HDRAD2 radio

Insignia NS-HDRAD2. Click to enlarge.

My beloved Sony XDR-F1HD radio recently developed a problem where its audio output became garbled with a hum, rendering it useless for DX.  As I often used the F1HD on airplane trips where bringing my larger radios were impractical, I have been on the search for a replacement radio with HD Radio capabilities.  I found the Insignia NS-HDRAD2, which at the time of writing, is $49.99 at Best Buy, but is cheaper on eBay.

I’ve been eyeing this radio for some time, but shied away from purchasing it due to a less-than-stellar review from a friend who bought it and returned it to Best Buy last year.  Given its cheap price, I thought I would give it a chance.  I’m glad I did.

This isn’t the first Insignia HD Radio I’ve used–I’ve owned the Continue reading

My 18th DXing Anniversary



1999.  Bill Clinton was president, boy bands dominated CHR radio, and looming fears of Y2K caused many to wonder what the new century would bring in.  One night in May that year, I stumbled across an unfamiliar signal from Norfolk, VA booming in on my radio.  I turned on my portable TV and found signals from Norfolk, to Ocean City, and Philadelphia coming in like locals.  The DX bug bit me, and the rest was history.  Here’s to an unforgettable 18 years of DXing!

RDS received from DC-area pirate on 98.1

I recently wrote about a pirate FM station that can be heard in the Washington, DC suburbs of Oxon Hill, MD.  It airs a classic hits format and is called “98-1 The Fox.” I’ve finally confirmed that the station runs RDS.

98.1 PIRATE 5/5/17, car radio in Springfield, VA.

Since my initial logging of the station last month, I’ve noticed that “The Fox” airs only in the late afternoon/evening hours and not in the morning, save for one day in the past week where it was heard during both my morning and evening commute.  As the pirate station’s signal is very weak, it is of no concern in terms of DXing.  Even though the station has minimal imaging, it is amusing to listen to, as the station sounds much like a legal FM signal, save for the lack of local positioning, DJs, and a lot of dry segues between songs.  Before one song, the station randomly inserted a pre-recorded liner that said the current temperature.

The screenshot above from this station has been added to my RDS and HD Radio Screenshots page.