Log: FM E-skip, June 17th

Conditions seem to be staying more summer-like and I had a good opening to eastern Iowa and western Illinois this afternoon that lasted for an hour. I can certainly understand why people get addicted to chasing E-skip! It’s pretty exciting flipping (or clicking, in my case) from frequency to frequency trying to catch identifications from the various stations that are flaring up. With an SDR, I can see the stations flaring up, so doing live DXing is sort of like a game of “whack-a-mole”.

This opening was special because I reached the Homeland, i.e., I picked up my main FM station from childhood! It’s right in the sweet spot for E-skip distance, but I wasn’t expecting it to be among my first 15 E-skip catches from Arizona.

The dial started lighting up at 2:35pm MST, with an alternative rock flare up on 92.1 over country KZUA which is pretty weak from here. Never did figure that one out, but then on 92.7 I had some classic AC/DC and that stayed in long enough to get a partial slogan identification for WLZR Galesburg IL, 4.3kW, 1284mi, 2:47pm MST, then a full slogan a couple minutes later after Green Day. I was quite happy to get such a relatively weak station, as just about everything else so far has been 100kW.

Next was a big flare up on 88.9. That was in and out, but I stuck with it to be rewarded with a legal ID at the 3pm top-of-the-hour for 88.9 KAIP Wapello IA, 14.5kW, 1245mi, 2:59pm MST.

Next was another big flare up, this time on 96.9 in the Rolling Stone’s “Honky Tonk Woman”, and almost immediately the phone number and slogan for WXLP Moline IL, 50kW, 1289mi, 3:05pm MST. This made it abundantly clear that I was getting a well-focused opening to southeast Iowa and west-central Illinois.

That trend continued and I got a nice surprise on 97.7 by hearing “…on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn in Albia”. I knew immediately that had to be my nearest and dearest FM station growing up, KOTM Ottumwa IA, 19kW, 1178mi, 3:19pm MST. I hung around through a bunch of local ads and info to get to their (relatively new, I think) “Tom FM” slogan, even though this was the only possible 97.7 that would be talking about this area. My nostalgia may have cost me another logging or two, but oh well. Forgive the indulgence on this longish recording. But, doesn’t that menu at the beginning sound good? You can also hear another station trying to horn in on KOTM, an ad for Adventureland amusement park in Des Moines, the Ottumwa-area forecast, and finally the “Tom FM” slogan.

Back down to 96.1 and that paid off with the “KWQC TV6 first alert forecast on Mix 96” slogan; KWQC is the former WOC-TV, and still the NBC affiliate for the area, and “Mix 96” is 96.1 KMXG Clinton IA, 100kW, 1292mi, 3:23pm MST.

At this point, I decided to work up the dial to see just how high of frequency was propagating (the maximum usable frequency or MUF). I had something non-local at 103.1, but there wasn’t any sort of slogan between songs. Then up to 105.3 playing Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, which again would not be local. But, it soon faded out and pretty much took the rest of the dial with it. I did take one last shot at getting the other high-power commercial Ottumwa FM station, 92.7 KTWA, but whatever was there wasn’t there long.

I had to leave shortly after that, and started an SDR recording, but I’m not expecting much out of that.

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