2020 FM E-Skip Year in Review

The 2020 Sporadic E season has come to an end.  While the season concluded with a few surprising things, it was largely a disappointment, on par with recent years.

Sporadic E is a method of signal propagation that, when in effect, allows broadcast signals, especially those in the FM broadcast band of 88.1-107.9 MHz, 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.


After reading about other DXers recording large portions of the radio band RF during sporadic E via their software-defined radios, I decided to upgrade my equipment shortly before the season started in May so I could do the same.  This upgrade gave me the ability to record an almost 10 MHz “swath” of FM (i.e. 88.1 to roughly 97.3 FM) for over a full day nonstop with the ability to rewind and listen to every single frequency in that range like a DVR, increasing my chances of hearing new logs via Sporadic E.  This method replaced my previous ability using two physical radios to record two individual FM frequencies in hopes of finding skip.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.  The 2020 Sporadic E season began in May with

HD Radio returns to Washington’s 91.9 WGTS

While scanning the FM dial the other day, I noticed that HD Radio has returned to 91.9 WGTS Takoma Park, MD, a local radio station of mine.  WGTS, which serves the Washington, DC area, first turned on its HD Radio signal in 2015, but turned it off in 2018.  The station was analog-only in the meantime before IBOC was turned back on this year.

The return of HD Radio on WGTS is a downside toward the hobby of DXing in my area.  While WGTS was analog-only, 92.1 FM was wide open for receiving distant radio signals.  Now that WGTS resumed HD broadcasting, 92.1 FM is now blocked out for regular DXing, since one of WGTS’ two digital sidebands is broadcasted on 92.1 FM.  Only strong DX will come in on 92.1 FM over WGTS’ digital sideband in the future.  The same thing applies to 91.7 FM, the frequency of WGTS’ other digital sideband, but 91.7 FM was desensitized to distant DX signals at my home already, as nearby 91.5 WBJC Baltimore, MD’s 91.7 digital HD sideband often comes in strongly, also blocking DX on that frequency.

Since I have purchased the Sangean HDR-14 radio while WGTS was analog-only, I added the HD Radio screenshot below from WGTS to my HD Radio and RDS Screenshots page.  I also updated my local FM radio stations page to reflect the new developments with WGTS.

New travel DX log added from Ocean City, MD

Ocean City, MD, at 120 miles away from my Northern Virginia home, was the last radio market within driving distance that I did not have a DX log from yet.  I spent a weekend in Ocean City in February 2020 and DXed the FM dial.  I have added a PDF log and a screenshot gallery of HD Radio and RDS screenshots to my Travel DX Log page.  Click on the links below to see more:

Ocean City, MD FM and AM DX Log (PDF format)
Ocean City, MD HD Radio/RDS Screenshot Gallery (HTML format)