Thursday, May 27, 2010

WTOP Washington DC 1500 kHz QSL

WTOP on 1500 kHz was heard on numerous occasions at Pinelands during good propagation conditions from the U.S.A.

I was fortunate to receive the above QSL card in response to my reception report from the 28th August 1985.

The Wheaton transmitter site pics on the QSL card.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

WNEW New York NY 1130 kHz QSL

WNEW on 1130 kHz used to get through to Pinelands on a few occasions during good propagation conditions from the U.S.A.

I was fortunate to receive the above QSL card in response to my reception report from the 26th August 1985.

WNEW signed off in December 1992 after Bloomberg bought the station. The format was changed to business news with the callsign WBBR.

Visit the 1130 WNEW tribute website for a nostalgic audio clip of Nat King Cole when he recorded the WNEW station ID during a broadcast with William B. Williams.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WFBR Baltimore MD 1300 kHz QSL

It was a pleasant surprise to receive WFBR Baltimore on 1300 kHz for the first time (A South African First) back on the 16th August 1985 at Pinelands.

President and General Manager Harry Shriver kindly verified my reception report with an interesting letter and included what has turned out to be the longest bumper sticker received to date!

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the impressive baseball-only facility in downtown Baltimore, became the official home of the Orioles on April 6, 1992 (Photograph Wikimedia Commons).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WJR Detroit MI 760 kHz QSL

WJR on 760 kHz has been heard on numerous occasions during good propagation conditions from the U.S.A.

I was fortunate to receive the above QSL card in addition to the WJR Tigers and Lions bumper stickers in response to my reception report from the 21st August 1985.

In November 1940 WJR's 733 foot tower at Riverview blew down in heavy winds and was replaced with the 700 foot tower , pictured in the above Google Earth Image.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WFSM Dry Banch GA 1670 kHz QSL and Audio

WFSM Dry Branch GA was heard via the Sony SRF-M37V Ultralight receiver and 60 metre BOG at Noordhoek on the 8th January this year. Chief Engineer James Gay kindly verified my reception report this week.

Google Earth Image showing the path of WFSM's 1 kw signal across the Atlantic Ocean to Noordhoek over a distance of 12 947 km.

Google Earth Image showing WSFM's transmitter mast, close to the Ocmulgee River at Macon, Georgia.

AUDIO CLIP * Also available on the right hand side of the web page

The "Fox Sports 16-70" id was recorded at 0104 hours UTC on the 8th January 2010 via the Sony SRF-M37V Ultralight receiver and 60 metre BOG antenna at Noordhoek.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

6WA Wagin WA 558 kHz QSL

The second Australian mediumwave station to make it through to Sandbaai was 6WA Wagin WA on 558 kHz. The station was heard on the 18th August 1985 with ABC news, weather, the Australian National Anthem and sign-off at 1602 hours UTC.

The QSL card above was received in response to my reception report.

The name of the "Australian Broadcasting Commission" was changed to the "Australian Broadcasting Corporation" from the 1st July 1983.


Construction of the ABC station at Wagin began in 1935. A very windy day on the 25th August 1936 blew down the top 91 metres of the mast just as construction was nearly complete. At the time the station had the tallest mast (nearly 200 metres) and most powerful transmitter (10 kw) in Australia.

On the 7th December 1936 opening celebrations were held at the Wagin Town Hall and transmitted across the country - the first national broadcast from south west Western Australia. Visiting musicians who performed for the celebrations were taken by bus back to Perth. One bus crashed and the station briefly became a first aid centre as the injured were treated by ABC staff.

Read more about the station's history here at the ABC website.

Friday, May 14, 2010

6KY Perth WA 1206 kHz QSL and Audio

It was sensational to hear Australia on mediumwave for the first time in August 1985. I nearly fell off my chair with disbelief when I stumbled onto 1206 kHz while dxing with the FRG7 and 30 metre longwire antenna at Sandbaai

A programme of easy listening music got through with remarkable peaks and turned out to be 6KY Tuart Hill WA. Chief Engineer K Cantelo kindly verified my report with a letter and car sticker.


A recording of the first time I heard 6KY from across the Indian Ocean - the recording was made on the 16th August 1985 at 1641 UTC and is available here or by clicking onto the play icon below (The electrical noise pulse originated from the cassette tape deck which I used to make the recording).  It was a pleasant surprise to hear the "6KY Nice and Easy" id for the first time! 
The station became a good indicator for the mediumwave reception from Australia during the middle 1980s despite the modest 2kw output.

Brief History

6KY began broadcasting in October 1941 on 1210 kHz. In 1978 the frequency was changed to 1206 kHz. The station moved to FM in 1991.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WPTR Albany NY 1540 kHz QSL

The interesting QSL letter and sticker was received from WPTR Chief Engineer James Seaman who kindly responded to my reception report from the 9th August 1985.

In 1995 Albany Broadcasting sold WPTR to current owners Crawford Broadcasting who changed the call sign to WDCD. The format was changed to Christian Contemporary music and related Christian programming.

In 2000 the company introduced the "Legends" adult-standards music format along with the classic WPTR call letters. This proved to be a ratings success but a financial pitfall.

In 2004 Christian programming returned to AM 1540, with the WDCD call sign. The WPTR call letters were moved to their sister FM station on 96.7, briefly with the 'Legends' format, then changing to the current Christian Contemporary music format.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GERMANY VOA Munich Relay 1197 kHz QSL

The Munich Relay station began broadcasting VOA programmes in December 1946. The United States International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) closed down the station on the 27th March 2005.

The four 120 metre transmitter masts, in the foreground at Ismaning, were used for the VOA Munich relay (Photograph with kind permission from Walter Brummer. Walter's interesting and comprehensive radio website includes many fascinating historical transmitter / antenna mast photographs and is well worth a visit).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GREECE VOA Rhodes Relay 1260 kHz QSL

The Rhodes Relay Station was a dual mediumwave/shortwave facility that used to deliver VOA programs to the Middle East and Northeast Africa. VOA broadcasts from the Rhodes Relay Station were first heard on the 19th May, 1964.

The ruins of the Apollo Temple at the Acropolis of Rhodes (dating from the 3rd–2nd century BC) is situated 3 kilometers from the centre of the Greek island (Photograph Wikimedia Commons).

Monday, May 10, 2010

WBAL Baltimore MD 1090 kHz QSL

WBAL Baltimore Maryland on 1090 khz has been heard on numerous occasions during good trans Atlantic propagation conditions from the U.S.A. The QSL card above was received in response to my reception report from a broadcast on the 26th June 1985.

Google Earth Image showing WBAL's three AM transmitter towers adjacent to Winands Road, Randallstown.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

TRISTAN DA CUNHA - ZOE Radio Tristan 3290 kHz - The Early Days

The island of Tristan da Cunha is situated in the south Atlantic Ocean, 2 805 km from Cape Town and 3 353 km from Rio de Janeiro.

One of the stations that DXers used to dream about receiving was ZOE Radio Tristan which operated with just 40 watts on 3290 kHz.

An interview with Radio Tristan's first operator, Alan Hemming, was given to the defunct British Association of DXers in 1972 about the station`s early days. The historical interview has been preserved and is reproduced here with kind permission from Glenn Hauser c/o the DXLD :

" I first went out to Tristan da Cunha in October 1965, as Superintendent of Posts and Telegraphs. On Tristan this fine title covers the work of single handed radio operator and technician and Postmaster in charge of the slim mail deliveries - about five in and five out, per year. The normal postal work does not tax one, but the philatelic work takes a fair amount of time.

Many of these friendly islanders owned transistor radios, shortwave models, and listening was restricted to poor reception, with inadequate aerials, to Springbok Radio and a few other stations in Africa. BBC had, at that time, not started to broadcast from Ascension Island, so reception was not very good.

When the Governor of St. Helena came to the Island in 1966, I approached him to sound out his feelings about an idea which I had for putting a local programme out, with some local colour and rebroadcast of BBC news. The Governor, Sir John Field, who was also the Governor of Tristan, was for it, and so when he left I went ahead with preparations to put on our first programme as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations, due in August 1966. We had no materials, and few records, and the equipment to start with was the Oceanspan VII¹s ship's transmitter which we used for our communications.

Our frequency was chosen to suit the band-coverage of most of the receivers, and was, in fact, a shipping frequency. We were not licenced at all, and so we kept the rig on low power. In fact, we were a pirate station in the first instance.

We used an ordinary Philips record player and my own recorder for musical reproduction, and a pre-amplifier was built into the Oceanspan to feed those things in. We started off with just one night per week. To start with the Islanders just did not understand what was meant by a record request programme and, in fact, our first few programmes were cooked-up, requests and all. However the programmes were received enthusiastically and the Tristans were delighted to be getting their first radio entertainment with decent reception.

Having made our start, and found that our efforts were appreciated, I decided that if I could count on support for further evenings from my various co-operators, I should go ahead with plans to get a frequency authorised, and to improve the equipment. By Ham Radio, contact was made with the G.P.O. in London. GB2SM, at the Science Museum in London, co-operated on this, and I was asked to listen on the 90 metre band and ask for a frequency which appeared to be clear. I eventually asked for 3290 kHz and this was granted, with a low power limit, intended for local reception only.

By the time that I returned from leave in U.K. in 1967, plans for improvement had been made and Tristan Radio was officially one of the world's broadcasting stations - maybe the world's smallest in size of building, size of listening public (280 total population) and certainly one of the lowest-powered stations. We bought two Garrard` record decks and a `Ferrograph` recorder, and these were built into a console along with a 6-channel mixer pre-amplifier which I constructed locally. An old navy 62 set transmitter was available locally and out of use, so this was modified to put out with its pair of 807's in the output, approximately 40 watts input. A good antenna was cut for the frequency, and we went on the air with a compact programme set-up in one room of our old wooden shack on the cliff at Tristan. We did three nights a week, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays from 1900 to 2200 GMT.

The signature tune "Scottish Soldier" was chosen because the early founder settler of the island community was Corporal Glass of Kelso in Scotland. He went to Tristan with the Army Garrison and stayed when they left. After the initial announcement in English we usually had Children`s Hour, conducted by a lady from the Island and, sometimes, supplemented by BBC Transcription Service material. The children`s programme makes way for a re-broadcast of the BBC overseas news at 2000 hrs - normally received well these days on a 9 MHz frequency, or on 15 MHz. We have local request programmes with birthday messages etc, such serial programmes as the Paul Temple series, comedy serials, Ken Dodd, Kenneth Horne etc. Locally produced programmes include some panel games. One currently running had the doctor as Question Master and a team of four people each time the game went on air. When I left in November I had introduced a further one night per week, on Mondays, same hours of broadcasting.

The low power used makes it unlikely that reception will ever be good in Europe as there is competition from other much more powerful stations on or about the frequency. In fact the little transmitter, as I found when I was on relief there in 1971, was not being run at full efficiency. The ATU which goes with the transmitter had been disregarded, and the set was not loaded at all. Reception was even poor on the island. Whilst there I built a small pi-output which brought our reception up to a decent level on Gough Island about 250 miles to the South, which is a very unfavourable direction behind the mountain. Reports of reception reaching the Island have not been confirmable in the main, although one Swedish listener gave enough programme content to make it seem likely that he did hear something. The same applies to the South Africans expedition reports. They could have heard us but the reports are all very indeterminate. In fact, the only one who, whilst I was on the Island, made a likely report was the Swedish listener.

Now the station may be heard more easily. A new transmitter has gone out to the island and it seems that the transmission may be with 1000 watts in the near future. If a good aerial is used there may now be a real chance of hearing Tristan Radio. Even with this greatly increased power it will not be an easy station to receive. "

Dxer Glenn Hauser added :

" I am not sure that the 1000 watt transmitter was ever installed though it was shown for some years in the WRTH under future plans. The station was last listed on 3290 in the 1993 Handbook, since 1994 it has been listed as an FM outlet. South African DXers have told me about their expeditions to the coastline stringing out long aerials to try and receive the station during its limited transmission hours. "

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TRISTAN DA CUNHA - ZOE Radio Tristan 3290 kHz - A rare QSL from the world's most remote inhabited archipelago.

Google Earth Image of Tristan da Cunha showing Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the only major settlement on the island.

Tristan da Cunha, the main island of the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, is situated in the south Atlantic Ocean, 2 805 km from Cape Town and 3 353 km from Rio de Janeiro.

ZOE Radio Tristan, from the island of Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic, will probably be remembered as an elusive radio station that many dxers used to dream about receiving. I guess that I was among the many long distance radio enthusiasts who tuned to 3290 kHz in an attempt to hear the local broadcasting service of Radio Tristan during their tropical band broadcasting days. I was not able to hear the station's low-power 40 watt signal, despite many attempts over the years.

However three dxers from South Africa did manage to receive and QSL ZOE Radio Tristan - Ray Cader, Gerry Wood and Eddie de Lange were among a handfull of fortunate Radio Tristan QSL recipients. I am aware of only two other verifications - UK dxer Anthony Pearce received a QSL in 1973 and Florida dxer David Sharp received a verification in 1983.

The station was last listed on 3290 kHz in the 1993 World Radio and TV Handbook after which a move to FM was indicated.

The following legendary account of two rare occasions when ZOE Radio Tristan was heard by the three fortunate South African dxers was sourced from an article published by Ivan Gardner in the Mailbag column from the April 1981 edition of the defunct SADXC's "South African Shortwave Listener". Additional information was kindly provided by dxer Graham Bell.


Sunset at Noordhoek Beach (Photograph Gary Deacon).

South African dxers Ray Cader and Gerry Wood organised a dxpedition during one cold winter night back in 1971 on Noordhoek beach near Kommetjie with the main intention of receiving Radio Tristan.

The two dxers set up an inverted-V antenna which was connected to a Barlow Wadley portable receiver. They monitored 3290 khz after sunset and must have been really excited to eventually receive some audio for the first time. The 40 watt signal from a previously elusive Radio Tristan had finaly made it across the Atlantic to South Africa!

Through the chattering of their teeth, static and QRM, they managed to hear enough details to send out a reception report to the station. The report had to be compiled with a certain degree of urgency as the RMS St. Helena was due to leave Cape Town harbour the next day! Ray Cader and Gerry Wood eventually received what was most probably the first verification to be issued from ZOE Radio Tristan.

South African dxer Graham Bell kindly provided a follow-up report to the story :

" I went to Noordhoek beach myself using Ray's Eddystone (with battery capability) and a makeshift dipole a few weeks later and got nothing but mush! "


However, Graham kindly shared an impressive consolation prize from Tristan. A broadcast from ZOE Tristan Radio, the communications facility's SSB radio-telephone transmitter, was received almost 20 years later by Graham on the 25th March 1991 and subsequently verified by postmaster Alan Swain.

Graham Bell's QSL from Tristan Radio's SSB radio telephone transmission (Click onto the image for a higher resolution).


Graham continued : " I tried to find Ray's QSL card (the orignial Radio Tristan QSL card from 1971). It was a thing to preserve. When we returned to SA in 2006 I went round to Salaam Cader's, Ray's son. He let me look through a box of QSLs that he had dug up. I had actually asked about these for several years before, whenever we went to Simonstown on holiday (from London). Ray's brother Jackie eventually discovered them. I used to see him in Central Supply in Simonstown main road. But it was so disappointing - no ZOE. "


However, I was fortunate to discover a rare photocopy of a Radio Tristan QSL in the April 1981 edition of the "South African Shortwave Listener". The sought after QSL was received from SA dxer Eddie de Lange who was fortunate to hear Tristan one evening back in 1973 at his inland location in Hatfield, Pretoria.

The following is an account of the reception in Eddie de Lange's own words :

" During the winter months of 1973 I was scanning the 90 metre band in Pretoria and stumbled across a weak signal on my historic SX-42 coupled to a 27.5 metre windom antenna (aligned East to West). After about 10 minutes of tuning and filtering the signal, I was able to identify this particular station (ZOE Radio Tristan). In reply to my reception report, the following QSL was received after about 3 months, enclosed in an envelope :

The rare QSL from ZOE Radio Tristan, received by South African dxer Eddie de Lange in 1973.


A fascinating interview with Alan Hemming, Radio Tristan's first operator, has been recorded and is well worth reading for those interested in the station's early history. Dxer Glenn Hauser kindly granted me permission to reproduce the interview which appears in the next post - available here.