More AM broadcast band DXing with my 6-foot diagonal wooden-frame “loopzilla”, RTL-SDR dongle, Ham It Up upconverter combo from the back patio. Includes audio of several station identifications, best heard with headphones.
November 18th, 2014
Technically, I set up just before midnight MST on the 17th. That worked out because I was able to re-log KMER and this time get a recording of the call, which I included in the previous post.
I went up one channel to 950 kHz, and quickly got another station that we had been talking about on the IRCA mailing list:
950 KCAP, Helena MT, weak at 12:05am (0705UT), 5000W, call (new), 839 miles
I was glad to get this one, because it’s only 45 degrees away from KRWZ out of Colorado, which is usually the dominant station on the frequency. KCAP is only the second station I’ve logged on 950. A weather forecast into “950 K-CAP, the news and information station”:
I turned the loop W-E for 960, because that seemed like the best direction to get a new station. It took about 25 minutes and hearing the call letters twice to understand them, but I picked up a 1 kW station at a pretty good distance:
960 KGKL, San Angelo TX, weak at 12:30am (0730UT), 1000W, call (new), 730 miles
Unfortunately, the signal wasn’t very clear, but you can just make out the call toward the end of the file, after indicating that they are a Dallas Cowboys Radio Network station:
My good luck continued, but not on 970 kHz. There, I was getting KBUL out of Billings MT so well from 800 miles away that it was hard to null it well enough to listen for anything else. So, I listened to 980 for a while. It was mostly sports from presumed KFWB Los Angeles, with occasional country music fading in. I was still roughly W-E, so I was hoping this was the closest country station on the frequency out of Grants NM. Right at the top of the hour, I got the unneeded call for KFWB with country music still in the background. But, sure enough, when the song ended, I got the call I wanted!
980 KMIN, Grants NM, weak at 1:01am (0801UT), 230W, call (new), 264 miles
This is a close one, but also quite low power. They run at 5 kW during the day, but had to have been on night power. You can just hear the KMIN call sneak in, along with their FM translator KMYN:
On 990, the signal kept swinging back and forth between a college basketball game and Spanish music. After a while, I figured out that the game was live and part of a midnight basketball tournament. New Mexico State playing St. Marys in California. It turned out be the NMSU affiliate, and they ran a bunch of local ads for the town of Artesia.
990 KSVP, Artesia NM, weak at 1:37am (0837UT), 250W, ads and ballgame (new), 479 miles
I actually kept after this frequency for more than an hour (plus an indoor warming break), trying to ID the ranchero music station and another station that briefly came in with Coast To Coast, but didn’t get either of them. I continued to work my way up the dial, and surprisingly had something new on 1030. This frequency is absolutely dominated by KTWO out of Casper WY and XESDD out of Baja California, often at the same time. I stuck with the new station and finally got a call:
1030 KCTA, Corpus Christi TX, weak at 4:29am (1129UT), 50000W, call (new), 1007 miles
This is a daytime-only station, so I was catching them at their high power under what would otherwise be nighttime propagation conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a recording of this one.
After a short morning of sleep and a day’s work, I was back at it after work. I set up at 5:45pm and worked on 1290 kHz. I had only logged KCUB out of Tucson on this frequency, but that station doesn’t necessarily dominate the frequency, and there seems to be a lot of potential left. However, after 1.5 hours of fighting the occasional good signal of KCUB and having poor timing for identifying the other stuff I was hearing, I gave up.
I spent another hour on 1300, trying to get a firm ID on a Mexican station, but never got anything beyond “Radio Trece”, which just means “Radio 13 (hundred)”. I presume this was XEP out of Juarez, which I’ve logged before, but was hoping maybe to get something else. After being up most of the early morning, I decided to cut this one short.
November 19th, 2014
I set up at 8:45pm and checked 530 for the two Cuban stations. They were stronger than average and I could hear both a man speaking Spanish (Radio Rebelde) and easy listening and/or classical music (Radio Enciclopedia). Got a little confused on 550 because it turns out that Mexican station XEPL does some German-language broadcasting, and I caught that.
As usual, KDWN out of Las Vegas was dominating 720 (I occasionally get WGN out of Chicago, but those are the only two stations I’ve logged on the freq), so I decided to get a recording of the call letters for my collection. It’s only 176 miles away. It didn’t take long:
I ended up logging two stations on 870 kHz within 10 minutes of each other! First, based on repeated mentions of “AM 870 The Answer”, and them mentioning their website am870theanswer.com, I logged it. No recording since I didn’t get call letters.
870 KRLA, Glendale CA, weak at 9:46pm (0446UT), 3000W, slogan/website (new), 329 miles
I left the loop SE-NW, and by 9:51pm, I was getting Spanish which I presumed was Mexico. However, I got a surprise call a few minutes later, leading into an Emergency Alert System (EAS) test!
870 KLSQ, Whitney NV, weak at 9:54pm (0454UT), 430W, call (new), 171 miles
This is Las Vegas suburb, so it’s not very far away, but also quite low power. Plus, getting an English call from a Spanish-language station not at the top of the hour is unusual.
I worked my way quickly up to 940 kHz to specifically try again for KFIG out of Fresno. Although they are the only nighttime 50,000-watt station in the U.S., most of their power goes west because Canada and Mexico have priority on this channel. It took 40 minutes until the top of the hour after listening to a variety of stations (sports, Mexican, religious, music), but I got it this time:
940 KFIG, Fresno CA, weak at 10:59pm (0559UT), 50000W, call (new), 408 miles
This was not a good recording; listen for “940 ESPN” and later “K-F-I-G, Fresno”:
I actually worked another hour on 940 trying to get an identification out of the Mexican station that kept coming in, but no dice. It was probably XEMMM again, for which I previously had a webcast match, but didn’t get anything over the air like a slogan to seal the deal. XEQ out of Mexico City is the main station that KFIG has to protect with their directional pattern, but I don’t have much luck that deep into Mexico.
November 20th, 2014
I started after work at about 5:45pm and diddled around on the crowded “graveyard” frequencies 1240 and 1230. The former was dominated by a local, so I ended up working on 1230 for an hour. Unfortunately, while I’m pretty sure I had KLAV out of Las Vegas and some other stuff, I did not get an intelligible ID, including at the 7pm top of the hour.
I spent an hour on 1250, which was fairly interesting. First, most of the time I was getting 70s and 80s oldies, which ended up being in-state KHIL which I’ve logged before. But, I got a recording of its call letters:
The music mix was interesting with Bob Seger – “Still The Same”, Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”, Andrew Gold – “Lonely Boy”, and Kim Carnes “Crazy In The Night” which I haven’t heard in years.
Of course, it wouldn’t a complete frequency without a Spanish-language station, preferably in Mexico itself. They kept identifying as something that sounded like “Radio Latte”, which I’m sure is completely wrong. I also heard “dos cinco” which might have been the 102.5 frequency of the FM translator for XEAT out of the state of Chihuahua.
Finally, a third station rose up just enough at the 8pm top of the hour. It’s part of a triplet of stations in the California desert and they rapid-fire identify all three stations, plus their FM translator all at once.
1250 KNWH, Yucca Valley CA, very weak at 8:00pm (0300UT), 77W, call (new), 224 miles
Fortunately, the three stations are on different frequencies. Listen carefully for “KNWQ Palm Springs, KNWZ Cochella, KNWH Yucca Valley, …94.3”; it took me a while.
I headed up to 1290 kHz and decided to warm up inside and just leave the computer recording, listening to it later from the warmth of my La-Z-Butt recliner. The loop was aligned for WNW-ESE, placing the San Francisco Bay area in one of the lobes of the antenna. That worked out, as most of what I was hearing was ethnic Asian programming, presumed to be Vietnamese on KAZA. However, when looking up more information on KAZA, I found that they have had some interesting problems this year. They lost the lease on their transmitter site and a few days ago they were given notice of an $18,000 fine from the FCC for improper paperwork and late licensing filing. Furthermore, they are supposed to operate at just 88 watts at night, silly-weak for a station that was coming in pretty good at times 544 miles away. But, they kept mentioning San Jose, and finally just after the top of the hour, they snuck in an English call amongst the Vietnamese talking: