Hearing Iceland’s national radio Ríkisútvarpið on longwave isn’t exactly “hard core dx”, but it is a fun station to listen to both because of the beautiful Icelandic language and because of the often nice programming they carry.
At Lista we often monitor Iceland’s longwave channels 189 and 207 kHz to see how propagation is across the North Atlantic. Strong signals from Iceland usually implies good propagation to North America on mediumwave.
I sent along a recording of Ríkisútvarpið’s longwave signal to Sigrún Hermannsdóttir who confirmed my reception of the station with a brief but friendly letter. This recording was made at Lista one evening in January when we had good signals from both transmitters, especially from 189 which suffers from less interference than 207 kHz. At this time the programme heard was the national programme 2 called RÁS2.
The longwave transmitters mainly serve the Icelandic fishing fleet in the North Atlantic Ocean. The transmitters are located at Gufuskálar on the western coast of Iceland (189 kHz -300 kilowatts) and at Eiðar on the North East coast of Iceland (207 kHz – 100 kilowatts). The radio mast at Gufuskálar is the tallest structure in Western Europe, according to Wikipedia.
WEEX was heard briefly at Lista in January 2011. Previous attempts at getting a reply from the station were all in vain untill Tom Fallon, Program Director, confirmed my reception of WEEX some weeks ago. My thanks to Bjarne Mjelde for providing a working e-mail address for Tom and especially (of course) to Tom for replying to my not-so-perfect recording of his station.
1230 kHz is a frequency where it is possible to dig out many North American stations. I have only been able to hear WEEX once so far, so WEEX is definitely not the most commonly heard station on the frequency. WEEX broadcasts with a night time power of 1 kilowatt from Easton, Pennsylvania. The station usually carries ESPN programming.
Another good catch from the latest DX-pedition to Lista was hearing WCRW at close down on 1190 kHz. On 1190 kHz we usually only hear WLIB in New York in the evenings, but on this DX-pedition the signal of WCRW was also heard several evenings just prior to their close down at 22.15 UTC. WCRW was heard with a perfect station identification before playing “Stars and Stripes” at sign off. Prior to that, the programming consisted of a relay of the English language programme from China Radio International.
WCRW broadcasts from Leesburg, Virginia, north west of Washington DC with a listed day time power of 50 kilowatts. Hearing day timers is always fun, and this was a new one for both of us. Brian C. Edwards, Vice President of Operations and Engineering at New World Radio Group confirmed our reception of WCRW with a friendly e-mail.
WYSL was heard with a very good signal at 22.00 UTC on January 16 at Lista. The signal disappeared just after 22:00, when they powered down from 13.2 kilowatts power to their night time power of 500 watts. WYSL is a news talk radio station serving the Rochester area in New York. The city of license is Avon just south of Rochester.
Robert D’Angelo, Business Manager at WYSL, confirmed my reception of his station some weeks ago.
The evenings provided some excellent DX at our latest DX-pedition at Lista. One of the stations heard was WXEX located in Exeter, New Hampshire. We had logged WXEX on a previous DX-pedition (with a very noisy signal) and had some hopes of hearing this station this time too. Indeed, WXEX made it to our radios on the excellent opening on January 16. Their signal was astonishingly clear for some minutes playing a.o. Pointer Sisters “It’s Raining Men”.
Steve Thomas confirmed my reception of WXEX with a brief e-mail. WXEX broadcasts with a daytime power of just 5 kilowatts (and a nighttime power of tiny 3 watts…). Their web page describe their music format programming as “featuring great “Rock ‘N Roll, Pop & Motown” tunes primarily from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s”.
First QSL from the latest DX-pedition to Lista arrived when Johnny Rocket, Program Director, confirmed my reception of CJCA on 930 kHz. CJCA was heard late one morning on this DX-pedition on our antenna directed towards the West Coast of North America. This was our very first reception of CJCA.
CJCA broadcast Christian programming from Edmonton, Alberta, usually using the branding and identification “930 – The Light”. Their transmitter power is 50 kilowatts, but despite this CJCA is definitely not a regular catch at such a southernly location as Lista. Contrary to the Arctic, CJCA has to compete with the signal of several stations on the East Coast (notably CJYQ, CFCB and WBEN) at Lista.
In January I made the trip down to Lista on the south western coast of Norway for another weekend of serious DX-ing with the long beverage antennas we can erect there. I was accompanied by Torgeir Nyen even on this DX-pedition. Torgeir drove down to Lista already on January 13 while I arrived 2 days later.
As usual, we used a 800 metre long antenna towards the East Coast of North America / Florida / Cuba. This time we also rolled out some some 400 metre of antenna wire towards the West Coast of America. The latter antenna had to cross a road and this wire was cut 4 times by a snowplough during our stay there :-) Snow is not very common at Lista, even in midwinter it usually rains there, but this time the temperatures were so low it snowed quite a lot. Fortunately, no problems installing the antennas despite some snow.
Heading out on a DX-pedition at solar maximum implies quite a lot of uncertainty as there is always some risk of an uncooperating sun producing solar flares, coronal holes etc. I expected and even hoped for some disturbances favouring stations in the Caribbean (we are still hunting for Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands etc…). The unpredictable sun was, however, surprisingly quiet during the entire DX-peditions. The paths towards the south were complete closed and even many regular stations from the Caribbean were weak. Cubans and Florida stations were significantly weaker than they usually are at Lista.
Instead conditions strictly favoured North America. Stations from Ontario and New York State had a particular strong signal. The evenings were particularly productive with several very rare stations being logged with day time power such as 1040 WYSL Avon NY, 1140 WCJW Warsaw NY, 1190 WCRW Leesburg VA, 1470 WPDM Potsdam NY and 1530 WDJZ Bridgeport CT, all new to us. The mornings were also quite good and even some West Coast stations like 1130 CKWX Vancouver BC, 1380 KRKO Everett WA and 1520 KKXA Snohomish WA made it to our radios. These are all very common stations in Northern Scandinavia, but quite rare at such a southernly location as Lista.
Our log is now available as a Google Docs spreadsheet. New stations (to us, that is) are marked in red, latest additions in blue. The log is far from complete yet. When using SDR radios, in our case SDR-IQ and Perseus radios, completing a log takes a lot of time! With more than 150 North Americans stations in the log and more than 20 new stations noted even at this stage, this was definitely one of our most successfull DX-peditions – and quite possibly the best DX-pedition- to Lista of all time.