Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 DX Year in Review

Several milestones were reached as I look back on 2013. As I write this blog on Christmas Eve, my total count now stands at 1,461 AM stations, 1,239 FM, 576 analog TV, 162 digital TV and 112 NOAA Weather Radio stations.

The biggest milestones I hit on AM this year was the 1,400 total station mark (this is the only band where call letter changes count) and the 100-station mark from my home state of Missouri. The 1,400 mark (before purging a few stations from my log; mainly DX tests that I never verified, and adding a few stations I forgot to enter in the book) was WINK 1200 (now WJUA) Pine Island Center, FL (Fort Myers market). The station made it through with talk programming and Southwest Florida advertisements and promos at 4:18 p.m. Central (U.S.) Standard time (2218 UTC) on January 7. The signal held until the station cut power and changed to night pattern at 5:00 p.m. CST (2300 UTC). It would also be my 30th AM station from the Sunshine State. The 100th Missouri AM was logged on August 22, when I logged KMMO 1300 in Marshall (between Jefferson City and Kansas City) at 9:29 a.m. Central (U.S.) Daylight time (1429 UTC) with local advertisements and a farm report which was also simulcast on KMMO-FM 102.9 MHz. The 100 kW FM was in much stronger than the 1 kW AM; the regular on 1300 kHz (WFRX West Frankfort, IL) was surprisingly absent that morning. The only other state that I've logged 100 or more stations from is Illinois (114 as of December 24, 2013); the 100th station from the Land of Lincoln was logged in January 2011 (WKZI 800 Casey).

On FM, I made it to the 1,200 mark on June 28. Before adding two FM stations from Indiana that I previously forgot to add to the log, that station was KSYN 92.5 in Joplin, MO. This station was noted at 9:16 a.m. CDT (1416 UTC). 19 minutes later, I logged my 30th FM from Kansas with the log of KJML 107.1 in Columbus (across the state line from Joplin). FM #50 from Indiana was also logged in 2013, noting WSKL 92.9 Veedersburg (across the state line from Danville, IL) on August 27 at 11:22 a.m. CDT (1622 UTC). On September 1, Iowa returned to third place on my most productive DX states list when I logged KSOI 91.9 Murray (near Osceola) at 3:56 a.m. CDT (0856 UTC)...one of the most interesting parts of this reception was the legal ID by a kid who couldn't be any older than seven years old. KSOI is the 65th FM from the Hawkeye State, dropping Florida (with 64 stations...63 via E-skip and one via tropo) to fourth place. I slowly got close to 200 FM stations from Illinois; #190 was noted at 12:39 a.m. (0539 UTC) on June 18 with the log of WKIO 107.9 Arcola (Champaign/Urbana market). As I write this, I need only one FM from the Land of Lincoln to hit the 200 mark. I also noted my 170th Missouri FM station on July 30 at 12:57 a.m. CDT (0557 UTC) with the log of K259BB 99.7 Sikeston, MO (a relay of my local KSIV-FM 91.5). The most surprising log on FM this year was another translator. K279BI 103.7 Kansas City, MO made it to Hazelwood at 10:00 a.m. CDT (1500 UTC) on June 18 with a simulcast of KCMO 710; a 250-watt FM translator was received 225 miles away! As of right now, I only need four FM stations from the Show-Me State to reach the next milestone of 175 stations.

Analog TV DX slowed quite a bit between 2012 and 2013 as more Canadian stations were converting to digital. One of the most frequent stations I've logged since the U.S. conversion to digital in 2009 was CKND2 Minnedosa, MB on Channel 2. Over the summer, the station, which relays CKND in Winnipeg, converted to digital on Channel 9. The only new Canadian analog I pulled in during the summer was CKCO2 Wiarton, ON on Channel 2, noted on May 29 at 7:30 p.m. CDT (May 30 0030 UTC). The Community Calendar for the Waterloo, ON area was the tip to the ID. All of the rest of the new analog entries in 2013 were Mexican stations. Two new Mexican states were added this year: Veracruz and Sinaloa. The first analog TV from Veracruz was pulled in on June 2 with XHGV 4 from Las Lajas in the northern part of the state. That same day, I pulled in my first FM from Veracruz (XHBY 96.7 Tuxpan). The city of Veracruz was pulled in on June 17 with XHFM 2 at 8:38 p.m. CDT (June 18 0138 UTC). The first log from Sinaloa came through on July 18 at 9:50 p.m. (July 19 0250 UTC) with XHQ 3 from Culiacan. We have at least one more season of Mexican analog TV before all of Mexican TV goes digital in 2015.

Nearly all of the new digital TV logs in 2013 were on VHF. The new stations began to slowly roll in after I put up my Winegard HD8200U on May 18. The tropo opening on May 19 brought in two new Tennessee VHF stations (WNTV 8 and WSMV 10 from Nashville) and one from Kentucky (WBKO 13 out of Bowling Green), as well as a channel change from Evansville, IN (WNIN 9, ex-12). On June 4, I noted my first digital TV station from northwest Arkansas (KAFT 9 Fayetteville); I noted this within an hour after the Solar Impulse solar-powered plane landed at St. Louis. I finally logged WMWC 8 Galesburg, IL on June 24; another excellent period of logging new DTV stations came on June 27-28, adding KQTV 7 St. Joseph, MO on the 27th at 6:45 p.m. CDT (2345 UTC), two Topeka, KS stations in KTWU 11 at 7:31 p.m. CDT (June 28 0031 UTC) and WIBW-DT 13 at 7:34 p.m. CDT (June 28 0034 UTC). The next morning, I pulled in KOAM 7 in Pittsburg at 9:03 a.m. CDT (1403 UTC). I also noted their second channel carrying KFJX 13. St. Louis finally went all-digital in August when K49FC 49 (the local 3ABN affiliate) flash-cut to digital on Channel 25 as K25NG. The summer on digital TV wrapped up with two low-power TV stations on August 30: W40CV 40 Jacksonville, IL (relaying WAND 17 in Decatur...I posted a pic of my reception on Fred Vobbe's Facebook page) and W29CI 29 Salem, IL (3ABN). Those were only my third and fourth low-power stations in digital format logged (after WLCF-LD 45 Decatur, IL and WJTS-LD 18 Jasper, IN). While high winds did knock the antenna down in early December, I secured the antenna mast mount with roofing nails.

Three new NOAA Weather Radio stations were logged in 2013. On May 19, I noted WWH37 Clarksville, TN on 162.500 MHz with weather conditions for Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky at 11:22 p.m. CDT (May 20 0422 UTC). I also noted a city of license change on 162.500 on September 6 when I noted WWF44 Henagar, AL (formerly licensed to Fort Payne) at 1:05 a.m. CDT (0605 UTC). I previously noted the station from Fort Payne on July 23, 2005 at 11:44 p.m. CDT (July 24, 2005 0444 UTC). The only other new log came on September 8 with the log of WWG73 on 162.525 MHz from Seymour, IN at 8:02 p.m. CDT (September 9 0102 UTC). I hooked the HD8200U to my scanner in November, allowing me to use the antenna's directional capabilities. A switch is used to switch between the VHF/UHF/FM yagi antenna and the non-directional discone.

While I had a halfway decent AM season, the E-skip season this year was mediocre, at best. Many DXers reported one of the poorest seasons in years. My worst E-skip season continues to be 2002. Tropo was fairly good this year, although many DXers felt it left something to be desired in 2013.

Shortwave radio held a few gems this year, including The Mighty KBC on 7375 kHz. Here are just a few of the QSL cards I received from shortwave broadcasters in 2013:

(This one is for 17490 kHz)

I also began using prepared form cards for verifying smaller AM radio stations in the fall of 2012. It has helped me verify stations I could not verify previously. One of the cards I got back was from KHMO 1070 Hannibal, MO. The same signer also signed my PFC for WLIQ 1530 Quincy, IL. PFCs have also helped me verify such stations as WKFN 540 Clarksville, TN, WLIL 730 Lenoir City, TN, KWAK 1240 Stuttgart, AR, WZYX 1440 Cowan, TN and WAVU 630 Albertville, AL. The KHMO card is attached below.

What DX does 2014 hold? That depends on the band conditions in the coming year. Several goals are now within reach, including the 200th FM station from Illinois, 175th FM station from Missouri, the 40th digital TV station from Indiana; some of the goals that I might have a realistic shot at in 2014 are AM station #1,500 and digital TV station #200. 

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