Friday, September 13, 2013

The Summer of 2013: Plenty of Tropo on FM

If there is one thing I will remember the summer of 2013 for, it's for the fact that I've gotten more stations on tropo than on E-skip. More than two-thirds of the new stations I've logged were via this mode of propagation. That more than made up for the lackluster E-skip season.

I got a late start on the season because I still had to finish repairing damage from the April 10 EF2 tornado. The totaled Radio Shack VU-210XR was replaced with a Winegard HD8200U VHF/UHF/FM antenna. The Antenna Performance Specialties APS-9B was salvaged. The first tropo opening of the season, for me, was May 19 and 20. It all started in the mid-evening hours with the reception of FM stations in western Kentucky and Tennessee. One new station added to the log was WAYQ 88.3 Clarksville, TN; they carry the "Way FM" Contemporary Christian format that's common on stations throughout the Mid-South. For a while, I thought it was WAYH Harvest, AL until I went through the FM Atlas again, and found out WAYH is parked on the same frequency as local KDHX! It was corrected in the log. Before midnight, I was able to get a clip from WNRQ 105.9 Nashville, TN. This one cleanly separated from local KPNT 105.7. Another clip I got was from WBKR 92.5 Owensboro, KY; I had some digital interference from local WIL 92.3 affecting the signal's strength. I added a few more signals in the wee hours of May 20: one of those was WJRV 106.1 Oliver Springs, TN (Knoxville market)...be careful of this one, because it uses the same slogan (106.1 The River) and format (Classic Hits) as WWWY North Vernon, IN. This is my 40th Tennessee FM at my location, after double-checking the logbook in late August. It would be nice if I could get something from the city of Knoxville. Another one I added was WTTL-FM 106.9 Madisonville, KY; I also have their AM sister on 1310 kHz in my logbook. WTTL-FM programs a Contemporary Hit Radio format. Another new one I logged is actually a city of license change: WLLE 102.1 Mayfield, KY moved from nearby Clinton. (No, it's not the Mayfield depicted in "Leave It to Beaver".) Another one I added was WLQK 95.9 Livingston, TN; I noted their "Light Rock 95-9" and Adult Contemporary format taking out WDQN-FM (Du Quoin, IL) and WOLG (Carlinville, IL). Yet another Kentucky FM I added was WDNS 93.3 Bowling Green (nulling out my most frequent KY station on the frequency, WKYQ Paducah). The tropo shifted to Missouri after 0900 CDT on the 20th, recording KCLR 99.3 Boonville, even with local KLJY on 99.1. 

The next morning (May 21) was mostly up to the Quad Cities after 0900. One station I did get a good recording from is WLSR 92.7 Galesburg, IL. The station is known on the air as "The Laser"...the newscasts are produced by sister station WGIL 1400. The other station of note on this opening was WLLR 103.7 Davenport, IA taking out WDBR (Springfield, IL). The openings of June 2, 3 and 4 were mostly regional in nature, mainly extending from southern Iowa to northern Arkansas, although I caught K268BF 101.5 Bellefontaine, MO (between Spanish Lake and West Alton) on June 3 simulcasting KWJK 93.1 Boonville, MO instead of receiving WARW 89.5 Dorsey, IL via W226BC in Brighton, IL. In the past couple of years, I've caught this station relaying WXRT Chicago, WIBC Indianapolis, WYDS Decatur, IL, KKYA Yankton, SD and KBDZ Perryville, MO in addition to W226BC on 93.1; I recorded the reception of KWJK on 93.1 instead of the K268BF relay. One station I recorded a clip from was on June 4, when I received an AMBER Alert cancellation from KEDB 105.3 Chariton, IA. I was also able to take out semi-local WXAJ (Hillsboro, IL) to pull in KBEA 99.7 Muscatine, IA. On June 3, I also recorded clips from WZIM 99.5 Lexington, IL and KOPN 89.5 Columbia, MO. WZIM took out WCOY at my shack. June 5 brought some mid-afternoon trop; I recorded this clip from KGOZ 101.7 Gallatin, MO.

The early morning hours of June 11 featured an opening that pretty much stretched from north central Iowa to Little Rock, highlighted by hearing folk music on 90.1 and 91.1. Of course, the 90.1 signal was WOI-FM in Ames. The 91.1 turned out to be KNSH Fort Dodge, IA, which I had logged previously as KTPR. I was also able to record KJAB 88.3 Mexico, MO asking for donations to help make a final payment on a Nautel exciter. The big surprise of this opening was KKPT 94.1 Little Rock, AR, which I nulled out semi-local KPVR (Bowling Green, MO) to hear. Another station that was in with a strong signal was KMMO-FM 102.9 Marshall, MO; I would hear the AM on 1300 kHz later in the summer for my 100th Missouri AM station. In the evening hours, I had stations mainly from Missouri, Illinois and Iowa in. I was able to null out my local Classical music station, K297BI, to hear KGRS 107.3 Burlington, IA. I also got a Stereo clip from KWWR 95.7 Mexico, MO

The evening hours of June 17 began with another opening to Illinois; one of the stations I was able to get a clip from before midnight CDT was WBNQ 101.5 Bloomington, IL. I had this verified back in the 1990s. I was also able to get a Stereo clip from WLCE 97.7 Petersburg, IL, nulling out KHZR (Potosi, MO) completely to hear this station. Even with a local on 98.1, I was able to get a clip from WRAN 98.3 Tower Hill, IL. I also noted the change at WSCT 90.5 Springfield, IL from WIBI 91.1 Carlinville (which now relays WBGL 91.7 Champaign) to WCIC 91.5 Pekin, due to the consolidation of operations at New Life Media. Even with adjacent channel interference from KLJY 99.1 (Clayton, MO), I also got a clip from WXFM 99.3 Mount Zion, IL. At 2356 CDT, I added WVIL 101.3 Virginia, IL with sports talk. This clip of WVIL is from June 24. Also on that same evening, I was able to reduce the digital sidebands from KSHE 94.7 to hear WLRW 94.5 Champaign, IL. One of the few Missouri stations I heard that evening was KZBK 96.9 Brookfield; I was trying to hear WLBH-FM Mattoon, IL to try and get me closer to 200 FM stations from Illinois.

After midnight on June 18, I added another new Illinois station with WKIO 107.9 Arcola, IL; this is the 190th FM station noted from the Land of Lincoln. This was previously noted from Neoga, IL as WXET. I also got a clip from WCRC 95.7 Effingham, IL, even with local WFUN-FM in digital format on 95.5. One new station I pulled in was WQCY 103.9 Quincy, IL; I previously noted the call sign on 99.5 (which is now WCOY). Another Stereo clip I recorded that morning was KTCM 97.3 Madison, MO, a Contemporary Christian station serving Moberly. I also got a clip from KBEQ 104.3 Kansas City, MO before 1000 CDT. Right at 1000, I got the biggest surprise of the opening, with 250-watt K279BI 103.7 relaying KCMO Kansas City, MO (710 kHz). With the AM's highly directional signal, an FM translator could fill in the gaps. That's 1.1 watts per mile!

After the E-skip opening to the Rio Grande Valley on June 23, I had a tropo opening into Arkansas, noting KABZ 103.7 Little Rock and KAMS 95.1 Mammoth Spring after 1630 CDT. After 2300 CDT, it shifted toward the Quad Cities once again. WLKU 98.9 Rock Island, IL is one of the few K-Love Contemporary Christian stations within 200 miles of my shack. This was cleanly separated from KLJY 99.1; St. Louis is served by their sister network, Air 1. Another Quad Cities FM that made it to my location was WXLP 96.9 Moline, IL; the digital sidebands from KFTK 97.1 was mostly nulled to hear this one. I was also able to cleanly separate WKAI 100.1 Macomb, IL from another local. Next to my local on 94.7, I pulled in WAAG 94.9 Galesburg. This is another station co-owned with WGIL 1400 and WLSR 92.7. I also pulled in another one next to a local, this one being WKXQ 92.5 Rushville, IL. Just after 0200 CDT, I nulled out semi-local KFAV (Warrenton, MO) to pull in WWCT 99.9 Bartonville, IL. The next night (June 25), I nulled out my semi-local on 97.7 to hear WHET West Frankfort, IL. This is one of a growing number of FM Classic Country stations. The opening extended from north central Illinois to western portions of Kentucky and Tennessee, extending all the way from Galesburg to Memphis.

The morning hours of June 27 brought mostly Illinois FM stations to this location. WDDD 107.3 Johnston City, IL was noted in Stereo after 0830 CDT with K297BI nulled. I added a new Iowa station with the log of KRNF 89.7 Montezuma at 0945 CDT; the station identified as "God's Country 89.7", indicating a Southern Gospel format. KRNF is the 60th FM station noted from The Hawkeye State. The evening hours featured a strong tropo opening into western Missouri. Besides the Kansas City stations, I noted KWKJ 98.5 Windsor, MO at 1859 CDT with country music and legal ID. The clip of 98.5 The Bar is from August 8. Just after 1930 CDT, I nulled out KPNT 105.7 to pull in KXKX Knob Noster, MO; they were heavy on the Sedalia/ Warrensburg commercials. I also noted the new KLMZ 107.1 Leadwood, MO (near Park Hills) with a rock format and Farmington ads.

The next morning brought more stuff from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas. It started with KRRY 100.9 Canton, MO around 0645 CDT. After 0700, KJNW 88.5 Kansas City, MO was noted; I have noted this previously as KLJC. At 0750 CDT, I nulled out another local to hear DX. This time, it was KBWX (Columbia, IL) that was nulled to hear WXCL 104.9 Pekin, IL. I remember hearing this call at 1350 on the AM dial back in the 1980s. Another station added to the logbook that morning was the Bloomington/Normal outlet for the Adult Hits format, WBBE 97.9 Heyworth, IL. I had to fight adjacent channel interference from KYKY 98.1 to hear this one. Terre Haute FM stations were in before 0900 CDT; WDWQ 102.7 made it in, taking out the digital interference from KEZK 102.5. The most frequently heard Terre Haute FM back in the 1980s, WTHI 99.9, completely took out semi-local KFAV. After 0900, I pulled in my 1,200th FM station (before reviewing my logs in August) when I pulled in KSYN 92.5 Joplin, MO. The last time I heard this was in Woodstock, GA via E-layer skip back around 1990. My 30th Kansas FM was noted before the opening faded: KJML 107.1 Columbus. A good way to end the month of June.


July began with some E-skip; tropo picked up toward the end of the month. Some of the short trop openings include one toward Kentucky and Indiana on July 11, during which I recorded a clip from WHOP-FM 98.7 Hopkinsville, KY. On July 12, I recorded a clip from KCJK 105.1 Garden City, MO. It started to pick up again on July 23 toward western Missouri and southern Iowa. The morning of July 24 brought another new Illinois FM, this one being WIUW 89.5 Warsaw at 0715 CDT. The station is a relay of WIUM 91.3 in Macomb. A new Iowa station was noted at 0727; this time, it was KRKN 104.3 Eldon, serving Ottumwa. Eastern Kansas FM stations made it in before 1000 CDT; most notably KJCK-FM 97.5 Junction City and KSAJ 98.5 Abilene. July 25 was one of the more unusual openings, pulling in stations from Bloomington/Normal all the way to northwest Georgia. WSIE 88.7 was off that morning, allowing me to get a clip from WPCD 88.7 Champaign, IL. At 1030 CDT, I pulled in talk on the Atlanta Falcons and local ads (one ad mentioning Peachtree Road) on 92.9; it was WZGC Atlanta. When I moved to the area in 1988, they were a Dance CHR format, flipping to Classic Rock at the beginning of 1989, then to Adult Hits about 2005 before assuming their present Sports format. I did note a new station in WYJJ 97.7 Trenton, TN with Urban AC before 1100 CDT. The afternoon brought in mainly Eastern Illinois stations. The month of July ended with two new additions. One was a 250-watt translator, K259BB 99.7 Sikeston, MO, relaying KSIV-FM 91.5 St. Louis before 0100 CDT. For a moment before 0200, I thought I was getting WMFS-FM 92.9 Bartlett, TN; the AM on 680 kHz in nearby Memphis is a fairly easy catch from my shack at night. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was KLSC Malden, MO; their legal ID mentioned 1,000-watt daytimer KMAL 1470 kHz. A late afternoon opening to Illinois and Iowa brought a fitting ending to the month.

The month of August started with another opening in the wee hours to southern Illinois, western Kentucky and southwest Indiana. The evening brought an opening to western Missouri and eastern Kansas...KICT 95.1 Wichita was one of the Kansas stations I pulled in. The clip includes a promo for an event at a "gentlemen's club" that the station was co-sponsoring! August 4 and 5 brought a tropo opening into the Mid-South, starting at 2305 with WMC-FM 99.7 Memphis, TN. Another Mississippi station was added after 2320 with WZLQ 98.5 Tupelo (pulled in through semi-local KTJJ Farmington, MO). After 2330, I noted WRVR 104.5 Memphis, TN taking out semi-local KSLQ (Washington, MO). Other metro Memphis stations noted included WGKX 105.9 and WKQK 94.1. After midnight, I also noted a new Arkansas station with KWNW 101.9 Crawfordsville; the first time I've noted this station since it moved from Jonesboro (where it was KIYS). Before 0200, I noted my 10th Mississippi FM with WMAE 89.5 Booneville, the Mississippi Public Radio station serving the Tupelo area. Another Mississippi station I noted that morning was WWMS 97.5 Oxford, the hometown of the University of Mississippi. Alabama even made it, pulling in WRSA 96.9 from its new city of license, Holly Pond (I also have this from Decatur) and a metro Birmingham station, WBHK 98.7 Warrior.

August 8-9 brought a late night opening into Kansas, followed by a late morning opening toward east central Illinois. Before 2200 CDT, I noted KBUZ 90.3 Topeka with typical American Family Association programming. The AFA is a fundamentalist Christian organization. Before midnight, I caught KHCC 90.1 Hutchinson wrapping up its broadcast day. After midnight, I caught KEYN 103.7 Wichita. After 0900 CDT on August 9, the opening shifted to Illinois, noting WPIA 98.5 Eureka and WWHX 100.7 Normal before 1000 CDT. After 1030, I noted one Indiana station in WIVR 101.7 Kentland. I tried for the simulcast partner on 103.7, but WDBR (Springfield, IL) dominated on the frequency. August 11-12 brought tropo into Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee...that was the last of the tropo until the last week of the month.

August 26 brought another opening into Indiana and Kentucky. August 27 brought my 50th Indiana FM station in the form of WSKL 92.9 Veedersburg, which serves Danville, IL. August 29 brought another opening into Iowa. Before midnight, I recorded clips from KRNA 94.1 Iowa City and KOKX-FM 95.3 Keokuk. The early hours of August 30 allowed me to record clips from KCII-FM 106.1 Washington, IAKOEL-FM 98.5 Cedar Falls and KDAT 104.5 Cedar Rapids. Before 0200 CDT, I got one step closer to the 200-station mark from Illinois when I pulled in WGNX 96.7 Colchester. Even the Windy City got in on the fun, with WMBI-FM 90.1 and WUSN 99.5. After 0900 CDT, I was able to get clips from KATF 92.9 Dubuque, IA and WVIK 90.3 Rock Island, IL.

The morning hours of August 31 brought an opening that stretched from Nashville to Joplin, noting WWTN 99.7 Hendersonville, TN and KHST 101.7 Lamar, MO between 0100 and 0200 CDT. The morning hours brought another opening that extended from western Kentucky to central Iowa. That's the way FM DX ended the month of August.

Yes, the tropo season extended into the month of September. After midnight on September 1, I noted two Twin Cities stations (both from Minneapolis), Classical KSJN 99.5 and Contemporary Christian KTIS-FM 98.5. KTIS-FM is the only Northwestern College-owned FM I've logged that doesn't use the "Life" slogan. Before 0100 CDT, I got a clip from WIZM-FM 93.3 La Crosse, WI and noted a new Iowa FM in KUNI 90.9 Cedar Falls. After 0100, I noted the sign-off from KNXR 97.5 Rochester, MN. The opening extended into Nebraska after 0200, noting KBBX 97.7 Nebraska City. A new Wisconsin FM was noted at 0247 CDT when I pulled in WAXX 104.5 Eau Claire. After 0300, I noted another station next to a local; this one being KKWK 100.1 Cameron, MO, which I had previously noted as KNOZ. Before 0400, I noted my 65th Iowa FM station; one of the more unique stations on the dial, KSOI 91.9 Murray/Osceola. Iowa passed up Florida to return to third place on my most productive DX states list.

Tropo DX returned on September 5, starting after 0100 CDT with WQXQ 101.9 Central City, KY and WYJJ 97.7 Trenton, TN. I also noted a call change after 0200 CDT with WKSW 98.5 Cookeville, TN. I had them verified as WHUB-FM in 1995, and also noted them as WGIC. The opening shifted to western Kentucky during the early morning hours, Iowa in the late afternoon and western Illinois in the early evening. The late night hours brought DX from Arkansas and southwest Missouri. The day officially ended with KABZ 103.7 Little Rock, AR.

The wee hours of September 6 brought more DX. Just after midnight, I pulled in a K-Love affiliate on 107.1; after looking at their Web site, it turned out to be KBMV Birch Tree, MO. Another new Arkansas station was added at 0043 CDT; I have not noted KQUS 97.5 Hot Springs since November 1988, when I was living in Woodstock, GA. Another new Alabama FM was noted at 0122, when I noted WWFF 93.3 New Market; I've previously noted this one from Tullahoma, TN. After 0300, I noted a former semi-local from my days in Georgia when I pulled in WUSY 100.7 Cleveland, TN over KGMO. Another ex-local made it in around 0400, when I pulled in WTSH 107.1 Aragon, GA. I also noted this one in 2005, when it was licensed to Rockmart. The station has been "South 107" since 1990. Another new one added was WLLX 97.5 Lawrenceburg, TN at 0320 CDT for my 45th Tennessee FM. The evening hours brought another new FM; this one being WGKS 96.9 Paris, TN with "Delilah". This was confirmed by a check of her Web site.

One new FM was added to the logbook on September 8, this one being WKLO 96.9 Hardinsburg, KY at 1835 CDT. This was during an opening into the Louisville, KY area. September 10 brought an end to the season so far, with logs of KTGR-FM 100.5 Fulton, MO, KSSZ 93.9 Fayette, MO and KMFC 92.1 Centralia, MO (now Columbia's K-Love station) before 0800 CDT.

I started the 2013 FM DX season with 1,178 FM stations, and wrapped it up with 1,237. I'm still three FM stations shy of the 200 mark from Illinois, and need just four to hit 175 from Missouri. I've made three milestones this season: FM station number 190 from Illinois, 50 from Indiana, 60 and 65 from Iowa, 30 from Kansas, 170 from Missouri, and 40 from Tennessee. There could be some off-season trops coming in the fall and winter months. In upcoming blogs, I'll take a look at the season on TV and NOAA Weather Radio.

(Note: The links in this blog are to the audio clips...when you click on these links, you will be able to listen to these clips.)

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