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Surfin’: Station Identification


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ hears weak ones, and then identifies them the old way and the new way.

I have been having a lot of fun this winter chasing DX on the AM broadcast band. I am always surprised when I am able to log a new one that is transmitting low power. For example, on Monday I logged two traffic advisory radio stations run by the Connecticut Department of Transportation: WQEA416 in Southington on 1670 kHz and WPQH451 in Rocky Hill on 1610 kHz. Each station was transmitting a mere 10 W. Admittedly, the stations were only three and 14 miles away from my ham shack respectively, but I was still impressed with the accomplishment.

Wednesday evening was even more impressive (to me): I had the receiver tuned to 730 kHz and I could hear two stations fading in and out in tandem. They were both talk radio stations, one in English and one in French. After monitoring for about 20 minutes, I identified both stations: CKAC in Montreal, Quebec -- 270 miles away -- was the French station, while WTNT in Alexandria, Virginia -- 300 miles away -- was the English station. Whereas CKAC was transmitting 50 kW, WTNT was transmitting only 25 W, but it managed to compete with the Canadian powerhouse for dominance of 730 kHz.

Station identification has changed with the Internet. With the two traffic advisory radio stations, I had to identify them in the old way -- wait until the half-hour for each station to identify itself.

On the other hand, both CKAC and WTNT -- like many other radio stations -- broadcast their content via RF and the Internet simultaneously. So after I have consulted my iPhone’s AM Search app to determine the likely suspects on 730 kHz (calculated by the app as the stations closest to my location), I googled each station to find their website. Then I visited the websites to see if it had online broadcast content and if so, did it match with what I was hearing over the air. The Internet content typically runs behind the on-the-air content, but is close enough to determine if you have a match; in both CKAC’s and WTNT’s cases, it was a bingo!

Almost two years ago, I briefly mentioned a cool blog devoted to chasing medium-wave DX: RADIO TIME-TRAVELLER, blogged by William Scott, WE7W. Scott writes that his blog is “about radio and radio DXing, antennas, opinions, reviews -- basically all things concerning radio. My particular emphasis is mediumwave and mediumwave DXing. My passion in the last few years has been DXing the medium waves during daytime hours. I hope to bring some interesting articles, ideas, and facts to these pages, not just dry reception reports.”

RADIO TIME-TRAVELLER continues to be a regular stop for my Internet browsing because its content continues to maintain a level of quality and interest that keeps me coming back. I highly recommend it.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, seeks the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog



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