Anyone who has been following the news over the past two decades will realize the great degree of change to the political landscape of Europe, largely related to the break-up of the former Soviet Union, the continuing turmoil within the former "Eastern Bloc" countries, and the re-unification of Germany. Africa and the Middle East, too, have been changing rapidly. These changes have had a profound influence on broadcasting. Technology, including increased use of FM and digital broadcasting techniques, is shaking things up on the old medium-wave AM band as well. Powerful stations such as the former 1593 outlet in Langenberg, Germany have left AM in favor of FM. This may provide better audio locally, but stations leaving AM do a disservice to more distant listeners. FM can seldom provide nationwide coverage, let alone continent- wide or global reception.
The intention of this article is to prepare the Trans-Atlantic (TA) DXer with an updated list of countries in approximate order of reception ease, along with information about best reception frequencies and times. Propagation analysis strategies are also brought into play. Much has been learned from the Newfoundland DXpeditions and from continued monitoring by DXers in the eastern sections of Canada and the USA. Some of the better-known DXers include Jean Burnell, Mark Connelly, Bruce Conti, Ben Dangerfield, and Al Merriman. Members of the South Florida DX club have provided insights to MW DX from that TA-viable area. All these newer loggings build upon a bedrock of DX knowledge running back to the work of Gordon Nelson, Bill Bailey, and others in the 1960's and earlier.
As most TA DX is reported by those living in the northeastern USA and eastern Canada, the reception notes have been formulated with this area in mind. Midwestern, Southern, and Pacific Northwestern DXers can also hear the TA's during prime conditions. Many of the reception notes may be of use to listeners in these areas, but differences do exist, especially with regard to East Coast sunset DXing information not applicable to those farther west. Of course, Brian Vernon's 1980's- era loggings from Yukon and the Northwest Territories up near the North Pole are a separate TA (more correctly, Trans-Polar) DX case. A strategy for far-northern Canadian sites and Alaska would bear little resemblance to that for any DXer in the lower 48 United States, except (perhaps) the Pacific Northwest where auroral "doughnut hole" receptions of high-latitude Russians and Scandinavians can occur with Beverage aerials during the best propagation conditions.
As a preface, the prospective TA DXer should have access to worldwide sunrise / sunset tables, a copy of the latest World Radio- TV Handbook (WRTH), and a suitable receiver. The receiver and antenna required to hear TA's is dictated largely by the listener's location. Armed with no more than a car radio with whip antenna or an unaided Sony '2010 or Realistic TRF, a DXer will have no trouble pulling scores of TA's if he's at a coastal site in the Boston area at sunset in autumn and winter. Even if it's auroral, some of the high-powered Africans should be audible. For those not lucky enough to be at a perfect site with ocean towards Europe / Africa and obstruction towards most domestics, better receivers and antennas will be required. A good communications receiver with tight filters (e.g. R390A, Drake R8B, NRD 535D, HQ-180A) and an amplified high-Q tuned air core or ferrite loop, possibly augmented by phased longwires or Beverages, will definitely help you haul in more TA's, regardless of your location. Lesser receivers can be "perked up" by using a regenerative preselector such as the MWT-3 or by using a loop such as the Kiwa or Martens having regeneration capabilities built in. Memories, accurate read-out, and synchronous AM detection / ECSS are tipping the scales towards a preference for modern equipment over the tube dinosaurs - especially now that the newer receivers are good enough to compete in hand-to-hand combat with the old Hammarlund, Collins, National, and Hallicrafters sets in basic reception qualities such as sensitivity, selectivity, and freedom from spurious responses. During a good opening, and especially on a Beverage DXpedition, frequency-hopping agility and the ability to blast through stored parallel channels and propagation-indicator stations can make a big difference. It is unlikely that we would have logged in the order of a hundred countries on MW from Newfoundland over a long weekend if the team was limited to using 1950's- technology receivers.
The reader is advised to consult the NRC reprints lists for excellent receiver reviews and tests by Gerry Thomas, Dallas Lankford and others. The Fine Tuning shortwave organization run by John Bryant publishes a series of "Proceedings" which also feature in-depth receiver reviews. Larry Magne is a noted reviewer of receivers; his work has appeared in the World Radio-TV Handbook.
Inexperienced DXers should carefully hone their split station tuning skills by practicing on widely-heard Pan-American splits such as Grenada - 535 and St. Kitts / Nevis - 895. Keep tables of TV "birdie" frequencies and Latin American splits at hand. Not all non-10 kHz channel signals are from across the Atlantic.
The quickest way to ascertain whether TA DX possibilities exist is to check several frequencies known to have strong signals under even mediocre, let alone good, conditions. The stations checked should be distributed evenly between low- and high-band frequencies, and between lower and higher latitude bearings. Actual stations checked may differ as a function of time.
A working TA DX strategy can be outlined by a block diagram and tables of key stations. You must keep station operating schedules in mind, as well as an idea of which hours will provide a mostly-dark path for viable propagation. Much information is contained in the WRTH and on a variety of Web sites. If you are adventurous, you can try computer control of a receiver, audio recording equipment, and antenna accessories (such as a phasing unit or a varactor-tuned loop). A strategy-based program (based on the computer being able to obtain signal strength data from the receiver) would make artificially- intelligent "real-life" decisions based on what is found and not found as a "robot DX" monitoring session proceeds. Recordings would be data- stamped with decodable-bursts indicating date, time, frequency, and suspected station logged.
Most experienced TA DXers have evolved one or more working strategies. Generally these consist of initially looking for key low-band and high-band indicator stations on low-latitude and high- latitude paths. Often auroral activity disables northerly reception of Scandinavia and the British Isles, but leaves signals from Spain and Africa unscathed. Sometimes the aurora is so intense that TA's in general are blanked and only a few South Americans sneak through. Don't be too rigorous about strategies. Occasionally, a departure from standard TA hunting schemes in favor of a complete bandscan, or search for split frequency station caused heterodynes from the bottom of the dial to the top, is advisable.
I usually start a DX session by looking for key western Mediterranean stations. If it's around local sunset, I tend to DX the upper part of the dial (above 1000 kHz) because TA's in that area come in initially with very good signals, but they rapidly drop into the domestic "slop" as darkness progresses to the west. Lower band channels from Europe and Africa hold their own against interference somewhat later into the evening, so there's less of a "rush" to check these right at sunset. The high part of the band has some commonly-heard mid-latitude stations such as France- 1467, Italy-1332, Algeria-1422, and Spain-1584. If the auroral conditions are active, you'll probably get low-latitude Africans such as Mauritania-1349 and BBC Lesotho-1197, but little from Europe. These can be good openings for a DXer running serious antennas at a coastal site. Weaker Africans will have less interference from normally-strong European stations. Look for some of the "old plan channel" Angolans on frequencies 1 kHz lower than the customary 9 kHz multiples. Receiving location really matters during an aurora: signals quickly drop into the mud as you move inland. When geomagnetic conditions are "quiet" and non-auroral, the DXer may be in for a treat. Receiving location tends to be a bit less critical. Late December of 1997 provided such openings. Scandinavian stations such as Norway-1314 were heard by DXers all over the United States and Canada. Key high-latitude high-band stations include the UK on 1053, 1089, and 1215; Croatia - 1134, Slovakia-1098, Denmark - 1062, Sweden-1179, Norway-1314, Russia-1386, and Germany-1422. Here in Massachusetts, the low-band stations I check first include the many high-powered RNE outlets from Spain. Representative frequencies include 585, 639, 684, 738, and 774. Algerians on 549, 891, and 981 are also "heavy hitters" as is Morocco on 612, 1044, etc. If these are strong, you can try to aim the sights farther north to look for Ireland-567, UK stations (such as 693, 882, and 909), Netherlands-747, Germany-756, and Switzerland-765. Most of the higher-latitude low-band channels have competing lower-latitude stations on them. This allows a very quick propagation evaluation to be done. If the Canary Islands / Spain synchros are ruling 882 instead of the UK station, for instance, one can infer propagation favoring southerly TA's over northerly ones - a not-uncommon condition. Heavy aurora may restrict low-band receptions to a few Africans such as Canary Islands - 621 and Senegal-765.
Dawn on the transmitting end of the path can enhance reception in a manner similar to sunset on the North American DXer's end. Middle East stations are often at their best around 0130 to 0330 UTC, just as daylight is appearing on the eastern horizon at the various transmitter sites. Use VOA Kuwait - 1548 and Saudi Arabia - 1521 to assess high-band Middle East propagation and use Syria-783 and Egypt-864 to check low-band conditions. Some of these stations are also good at sunset here in North America, at least at eastward-facing shore locations.
Check WWV (2.5, 5, 10, 15, or 20 MHz) at 18 minutes past the hour from time to time to keep abreast of the A and K index information. Some DXers have found that keeping track of these numbers has helped to give their DX activities a sense of direction and also helped them correlate these indices of geomagnetic activity with real life TA DX propagation patterns. The A index is that most commonly mentioned in DX circles. It ranges from 0 to over 100. Favorable high latitude TA DX conditions are associated with several consecutive days of low geomagnetic activity (A indices less than 6). Disturbed conditions are indicated by somewhat higher A numbers. Often such conditions produce short skip and/or semi-auroral conditions with low-band receptions limited to the western Mediterranean region of Europe (Spain, Portugal, southern France) and Africa. Higher latitude stations may still get through on frequencies above 1400 kHz. Such stations, such as Germany-1422, often exhibit fast flutter type fading. Because of ionospheric tilts, loop bearings may be skewed somewhat to the south of the true great-circle bearings observed during "normal" conditions. Really auroral conditions occur with high geomagnetic activity (caused by solar disturbances) when the A index soars above 20. The only TA's likely to be heard are Africans well to the south of the Mediterranean coast countries.
During a heavy aurora, it's best to concentrate on Caribbean and South American DX. The really choice Africans are generally only heard with Beverages at the beach, preferably from outer Cape Cod or Maritime Canada. Such aerials should be over 400 meters long, aimed at 105 degrees plus or minus 10 degrees bearing away from the DX shack. There are some exceptions: BBC Lesotho - 1197 (one of the few high-band far-south Africans running serious power) is often loggable at sunset on a ferrite loop during a good aurora at sites such as Windmill Beach in South Yarmouth, MA on Cape Cod and Granite Pier in Rockport, MA on Cape Ann. VOA Sao Tome - 1530 and some of the Angolans are good targets as well.
I have found that a loose correspondence between the A indices and real life propagation exists and obtaining these numbers provides an interesting supplement to DX information. However, you should always check key stations using TA strategies similar to those outlined in this article. Never write off a potential DX session before checking actual MW conditions, just because the WWV propagation alert sounds discouraging.
Autumn and winter provide the best TA DX, but some TA's can be heard year-round. Morocco - 1044, Algeria - 891, and numerous Spaniards come to mind. Spring and summer can provide unique opportunities, especially with regard to high-band Iberian peninsula stations. These stations remain in darkness well after the summer sun has risen at co-channel transmitter sites in more northerly countries, such as Germany. Sub-equatorial Africans have been received in May, a month not generally considered good for DX. Historically, late August through early April has been thought of as the TA DX season. Late September through early January is usually the best part, as the "midwinter anomaly" slows things down a bit in the latter part of winter. This is thought to be related to the effects of lower ionospheric temperatures. Around the winter solstice and Christmas, one can profit from the fact that darkness lingers longer in northern Europe than in the Mediterranean. As Algeria - 549 enters daylight and fades, the German on that channel is left in the clear long enough to get reception report details or a good tape recording. Sunrise / sunset maps, charts, and computer programs are available from several hobby sources such as the ARRL and the National Radio Club. A Web search via Altavista or Lycos will turn up additional resources. A popular shareware program is Geoclock and a product called the DX Edge has been used at field sites where computer operation is not feasible. Any serious DXer should have a good idea of the critical control times affecting reception at various dates of the year. Typically these are North American sunset and European dawn.
When ID'ing stations, those that broadcast in English seldom present a problem. Unfortunately, such stations represent a very small piece of the Trans-Atlantic DX pie. With regard to non-English language stations, the frequency and the language certainly get you a long way, at least toward a tentative ID. Use shortwave broadcasts to get accustomed to the sound and some of the rudimentary vocabulary of a number of languages from the three major European groups: Germanic, Romance, and Balto-Slavic. If the station is the only one on the channel listed with the language heard, if it has been reported by other DXers in your area, and you hear other stations close in terms of frequency and location to the station in question, you can pretty much log the catch with about 90% certainty. That other 10% of doubt can be removed with reception of a formal ID, generally heard at the top of the hour. These can be an interval signal (some are very distinctive), or in the case of rare commercial stations, advertisements mentioning local cities or brand names peculiar to one country. One must dig for as much identification material as possible, especially if you can't recognize the language being used or if several different countries are on the channel with the same language or similar-sounding languages. Stations such as Vatican City, the Albanians, and Radio Sweden may run many different languages within a short time span. Furthermore, what one hears on one of these outlets at a given time one evening may be replaced by programming in a different language at the same time the following night. Format, such as rock music or religion, or cities and people mentioned on news broadcasts are supplementary pieces of information which may help to resolve an ID. Parallel frequencies, both medium-wave and shortwave, are great ways to nail down a conclusive ID. The Newfoundland DXpedition reports and regular international DX column loggings provide much information on parallel frequencies.
Other DXers may be able to dissect information from a tape that, to the original recipient of the signal, sounds like gobbledygook. Tape can be run through analog and digital audio filtering / processing to separate "the wheat from the chaff". Taping of RF (a swath of the band) using a video recorder, a method pioneered by Craig Healy, may someday emerge as a DX tool of immense benefit if the bugs can be worked out. Imagine scooping up the band as received on a beach Beverage pointed at Africa during a heavy aurora and having unlimited time to scan over the (4 or 6) hour tape later with your VCR output connected through a tunable preselector to your receiver input ! The increasing availability of moderate-cost high-speed digitizers and high-volume disk drives may allow storage of an appreciable-length record of the entire MW band. This could later be digitally-processed to reduce pest-station slop, etc. before returning the stored signals to the analog (RF or detected-audio) world for the DXer.
In the early '70s, a peak period in terms of scientific DXing, DX bulletins published the European Broadcasting Union, or EBU, List with precise frequency measurements and drift data on TA stations. Precision Frequency Measurements (PFM) and Sub-Audible Heterodyne (SAH) analysis techniques were briefly in vogue as additional tools to ID TA's. Gordon Nelson, Ron Schatz, and others went into great detail on such methods. Broadcasters have, in general, made improvements to frequency control that lessen the degree of characteristic frequency "signatures". PFM and SAH analysis as identification tools have, therefore, largely fallen by the wayside. Loop direction-finding may also help, once a DXer has accurately prepared a bearing chart by using both a compass and nulls of known Trans-Atlantic, Latin American, and domestic stations locations on a number of frequencies throughout the band. The known-station nulls calibrate out errors due to loop imbalance, nearby metal objects, power-line / wire-antenna re-radiation and the like.
TA stations heard, even routine ones, should be reported to the NRC's International DX Digest and to E-mail list-servers such as Hard- Core DX. What somebody in Massachusetts or on Long Island thinks of as routine, is probably a good catch in the Midwest. To stimulate DX from sections of the US and Canada away from the prime East Coast sites and to aid in the study of propagation patterns, report all TA's. For those "into" propagation research, improved home computers and software have helped to take much of the dirty work out of such studies.
In the list to follow it should be noted that station schedules change, so sign-on and sign-off times are only occasionally given. All times given are in UTC (GMT). Recent DX bulletins, the latest WRTH, charts of local sunset and European/African sunrise should be consulted to determine likely times of fade-in, sign-on, sign-off, and fade-out for specific stations.
This list represents fifty selected Trans-Atlantic countries, in approximate order of ease of reception (from Massachusetts). It is based on frequent listening at times evenly distributed between local sunset and transmitter sunrise. (Frequent listening means a daily average of 30 minutes DXing time.)
Note: St. Pierre and Miquelon-1375 is not considered a TA for the purposes of this article.
CATEGORY A: VERY EASY
1. SPAIN Spain is on a southerly bearing and is, therefore, less subject to auroral blanketing than stations from northern Europe. Spain has many high-powered, largely split-frequency stations for the new DXer to hear with unsophisticated gear. These stations (mostly government RNE outlets) help to tip off experienced DXers to the possibility of receiving the scores of lower-powered private stations in Spain. The high-power channels include 585, 603, 639, 684, 729, 738, 774, 792, 855, 954, 999, 1107, 1134, 1152, and 1359 kHz. Several others are also good, especially at shore sites just after sunset. Local channels, especially 1314, 1413, 1485, 1503, 1539, 1575, 1584, and 1602 kHz have also provided good DX opportunities. All stations program in Spanish, and music may be either pop or classical. Most are 24-hour operations. Telephone talk shows are common.
2. ALGERIA Algiers on 891 kHz is often the strongest TA signal heard in the northeastern states. It is present even during mediocre openings. Therefore, it's a good propagation beacon. Best reception is from one- half hour before local sunset to an hour after sunset. Domestic QRM is at a minimum during this period. Even later in the evening, this station gives WLS and WBPS a run for their money, heterodyning strongly with them and, on better nights, completely swamping them out. In this case, the domestics become the het. In such cases, a portable or car radio does fine. Programming on 891 is primarily Arabic music and talk. A few times French has been noted. Other Algerians are frequently noted on 531 and 549 (often parallel to 891). 576, 981, 1422, and others are also occasionally reported. The Algerians are usually heard running all night schedules. The clandestine station that has recently moved from 1544 and 1548 to 1550 is thought by some to be in the West Sahara area south of Morocco and by others to be in Tindouf, Algeria. It can be very strong at sunset along the immediate coastline from Florida to Newfoundland, but it doesn't seem to have much thrust inland.
3. MOROCCO Sebaa-Aioun on 1044 kHz with mostly Arabic (but sometimes French) programming is reported fairly often, occasionally mixing with co-channel Spain and others. 612, 819, and 1053 can come in well. Moroccans are heard best at sunset from coastal sites in the northeastern states and the Canadian Maritimes; those in interior areas will do better around 0500 UTC "dawn enhancement". I've logged 1044 from El Paso, TX on a Sony ICF-2010 and small loop. Neil Kazaross heard it in California. Moroccans noted less frequently are 594, 702, 828, 864, 936, 1080, 1188, 1197, 1233, and 1325 kHz.
4. CANARY ISLANDS Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 621 kHz is present most nights. Its southerly route allows reception even when Spain and Portugal are "aurora'ed out". Other Canaries stations on 837 (mixed with Azores), 882 (mixed with UK), 1008 (with Holland and Spain), 1098 (with the Slovak Republic station), and 1179 (usually atop Sweden) are all solid possibilities. These are consistent performers here in the Boston area around sunset; many also do well at transmitter-site dawn. Theoretically, reception is possible during the entire period of mutual receiver / transmitter darkness; domestic interference considerations, however, point to sunset at the North American receiving site as the best reception time. Moderately auroral conditions conducive to African stations from Senegal (765) and Burkina Faso (747) should bring the Canaries stations in with little competition from Europeans. All of the other Canary Islands stations listed in the WRTH (e. g. 720, 747, 1269) should be possible under these conditions as this path is relatively low-loss.
5. SENEGAL Dakar on 765 kHz is among the most consistent TA signals, largely due to its very southerly TA bearing (104 degrees from Massachusetts). Auroral conditions that totally wipe out European reception and severely attenuate Mediterranean-area North African stations frequently leave Dakar unscathed. In fact, a moderate aurora sometimes provides enhancement of 765, in terms of real strength as well as in terms of improved readability due to reduced QRM. This station is generally off the air from 0100 to 0600, although this may vary somewhat. The local sunset period is especially good at coastal locations. The transmitter sunrise period is of possible use to those inland (as well as on the coast) because of higher incoming skip arrival angles although domestic slop is worse than at sunset. This station has been heard in California around 0700 UTC in late autumn / early winter. Dakar - 765 runs French, Arabic, and a variety of local African languages. Music is quite diverse. You may hear Arabic-Islamic chanting, flutes, violins, soul / reggae, or exotic central African folk melodies. The other Senegal stations such as 810, 963, 1224, 1287, 1305, 1323, 1368, 1503, and 1539 are much more difficult, but might be found on a Beverage during aurora.
6. SAUDI ARABIA Superpowered Duba - 1521 makes this rather-distant Trans-Atlantic country a regular in the autumn and winter from east coast sunset to 2300 and then again at 0300 sign-on. Programming is Arabic music and talk, mostly of an Islamic religious nature. This station really gets out and reception of it from Texas (with KOMA nulled) is not uncommon. The same program is broadcast on several shortwave frequencies such as 9870. Consult the WRTH for other parallels. Less frequently reported are outlets on 648 and 1512 kHz. Al Qurayyat (Guriat) on 900 has been noted sometimes dominating co-channel Italy at DXpedition sites in the Azores and Newfoundland and I logged it from the Boston waterfront (over Italy and CKDH) once. Other big Saudi stations such as 549, 585, 594, and 1440 can occasionally compete with the generally-stronger co-channel European stations.
7. FRANCE As one of Europe's larger countries (in terms of land area, population, and industrial output), France, not surprisingly, has many powerful transmitters. Many do not operate on a 24-hour schedule, so they are best heard before 2300 and after 0500. Schedules vary, so check recent DX bulletins and the WRTH. French talk (including drama) and a wide variety of music may be heard on 711, 837, 864, 945, 1206, 1242, 1377, 1404, 1494, and 1557 kHz. Programs often feature alternating male and female announcers. Parallel frequencies, as well as programs generally in French, help identify these stations. Although longwave is beyond the scope of this article, the superpowered outlet at Allouis on 162 kHz should be mentioned as a TA propagation beacon of sorts. A high-powered transmitter on 1467 kHz, used by Trans World Radio, is located in Roumoules. It is next to Monaco and some count it as Monaco rather than France. Numerous languages, including English, are transmitted on 1467. Consult WRTH for current scheduling. Best reception is at sunset in autumn and winter.
8. NORWAY Kvitsoy-1314 is quite good on higher-latitude evenings. A variety of music, including American and British oldies and recent hits, is featured along with Norwegian talk. The 0300 to transmitter site dawn period yields the strongest signal; earlier in the evening co-channel Spain presents more interference. Few TA's are heard from farther-north sites on a regular basis. Other Norwegian stations are orders-of- magnitude more rare. Westerners may have more luck with northern Norwegian stations than DXers in the East; such stations may skip in the auroral "doughnut hole" and thereby propagate well into the Pacific Northwest and western Canada.
9. ENGLAND There are many stations in England running high power. Virgin Radio on 1215 is heard well when it's not being QRM'ed by Spain. Talk Radio outlets on 1053 and 1089 are often heard. BBC Foreign Service transmitters on 648 and 1296 kHz, which sometimes run foreign languages, are less consistent in strength than the BBC's English- language domestic channels. Here in the Boston area, 693, 882, and 909 have the best signals. Schedules on some outlets have jumped back and forth between 24-hour operation and with a silent period, the latter due to budgetary restrictions. Best reception is during the late autumn and early winter from local sunset to 0000 and then from 0500 to transmitter dawn. The British locals on channels such as 1458, 1485, and 1548 offer interesting challenges quite like domestic "graveyard" DXing.
10. CROATIA The parallel outlets on 1125 and 1134 kHz are often heard with Slavic talk. 1134 is the stronger of the two. Both channels have co-channel interference from Spain. A former transmitter on 1143 appears to be inactive. When 1134 is strong, look for other central and eastern European stations.
11. GERMANY Although on a less-favorable northern route (bearing 52 degrees from Massachusetts), Germany is commonly heard because of the large number of high-powered transmitters there. Langenberg has vacated 1593 kHz, but there are still many good targets for the DXer. Currently 756, 1017, 1269, 1422, and 1539 are the best bets. Germany now includes the former East Germany: the Voice of Russia relay there (in Nauen) on 1323 has English at times. The other stations typically have German talk and varied music including classical, big-bands, show-tunes, and rock. Hard rock with German announcements may be heard on 1422. 1539 may be separated from WDCD with a good receiver on better nights; 549 occasionally overtakes the generally stronger co-channel Algerian. The AFN / VOA stations (873, 1107, 1197) have English, but their signals are mediocre at best and, more often, they're hopelessly buried by co-channel Spaniards. Other Germans on 666, 936, 972, and 1044 are occasionally heard, but they too are at a competitive disadvantage to the various Iberians and North Africans found there. German stations compete more favorably with the lower latitude TA's during the hour preceding German dawn, rather than at US sunset.
12. DENMARK Try 1062 kHz when mid-band British and Germans are strong. This station has gotten to be a better performer during the 1990's; perhaps its facilities have been upgraded. The removal of a strong Portuguese station from that channel has also helped. It generally dominates over co-channel Italy and Turkey. Danish talk and a variety of popular music is featured.
13. AZORES At East Coast sunset, stations on 693 and 837 (sometimes 836) are often heard. Programming is in Portuguese. 1566 is occasionally active (but often silent). 648, 828, 909, and a few others are somewhat less common. As the Azores are well to the west of much of the other TA action, listening just before Azores sunrise is very productive. Most of the competition has been lost to daylight by then. Listening on 693 after 0400 UTC in spring and summer is instructive: the British station may be initially dominating, but as time passes, the Azores station rises to complete dominance well before its own fade-out. Lower-powered 828 may be heard best at that time (with other African and European QRM stripped away). An old-frequency plan straggler on 1259 hets WEZE/CIHI/Spain - 1260 on occasion. A very interesting target is the American Forces station at Lajes on 1503. This flea-powered (100 watt) operation has been logged at coastal sites in Newfoundland and Massachusetts.
CATEGORY B: MODERATELY EASY
14. PORTUGAL Projecting out on the western end of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal has a relatively low loss path to the USA. Local east coast sunset provides the best opportunity to log Portuguese stations. There are fewer high-powered stations on from Portugal now than there were a few years ago, but the country is still relatively easy to hear. The best frequencies are 1035 and 666. The rocker on 783 has an inconsistent signal: some nights good, but more often wallowing in slop from CFDR, WBBM, ZBVI, and Venezuela. 963 does fairly well and occasionally Vilamoura sneaks in on 891 as the powerhouse Algerian is fading with oncoming daylight. Similarly, there's a Portuguese station that shares 981 with the big Algerian there. I don't know how these guys get out of their own backyards when competing with those North African juggernauts. Some Portuguese stations sign off between 0100 and 0500. When they return to the air around 0500 to 0600, QRM from both co-channel Europeans and stateside stations is generally worse than it is during openings prior to 0100. Those who like even-channel (10 kHz multiple) TA's may find that Radio Comercial on 1170 is one of the easier stations to hear. After daytimers such as WKPE and WDIS go off, WWVA is the major pest. It can be eliminated at most northeast USA / eastern Canada locations by using two-wire, or loop-versus-whip, phasing techniques that set up a cardioid pattern with a null to the southwest. Formerly 720 was a good "even" channel for Portugal, but CHTN has done away with that. For some inexplicable reason (colossally-bad frequency management ?), there are some channels that have co-channel Spaniards and Portuguese (capable of being heard from North American sites) battling each other for dominance. What they must do to each other in their local areas boggles the mind. Portuguese is a somewhat nasal language, intermediate between Spanish and French in sound. Look for high- band lower-power stations such as 1251 during the spring and summer around transmitter sunrise when farther-north Europeans are already well into daylight. These unique openings are the "Iberian high-band conditions" popular with numerous DXers on Cape Cod and Long Island.
15. LIBYA Tripoli on 1251 kHz now seems to be the most reliable Libyan signal in North America. The heterodyne against the 1250 domestics is strong on many nights, but pulling up readable audio is tricky. When it does surface, the DXer will find Arabic chanting and talking. Co-channel stations on 1251 include Portugal, UAE, and Hungary. There are other Libyan possibilities on 711, 828, 1053, and 1080: make sure you don't confuse these with co-channel Moroccans. Less common are 675, 792, 909, 1125, 1404, 1449, and 648 (which can be confused with co-channel Saudi Arabia). The best time to listen is from sunset at the listener's location to 2300 UTC and from 0400 until transmitter dawn.
16. VATICAN Radio Vatican on 1530 kHz is often logged in the Canadian Maritimes, New England, New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. It mixes with WSAI, sometimes overtaking it, on above-average TA nights. Several languages are used in the religious format of this station. Music played is usually "very soothing" soft instrumentals and classical music. Check shortwave parallels on 5882 and 6245.
17. NETHERLANDS Flevoland - 747 can be a powerhouse when the auroral absorption zone moves sufficiently out of the way. The all-talk station on 1395 can also have a good signal. Another Dutch station on 1008 is reported infrequently. Canary Islands / Spain co-channel QRM and WINS slop make this one rough. There's also 675 if you don't have WRKO - 680 as a problem. Holland has a number of pirate stations just above the top of the band. The British club Medium Wave Circle gives these quite a bit of column space. Some of these can span the Atlantic: Jean Burnell in Newfoundland has received several of them.
18. EGYPT The 864 kHz transmitter at Santah comes in well with the Holy Koran service at North American sunset in autumn and winter. Other frequently-heard Egyptians are on 774 and 819. The 1107 outlet isn't as well heard as it used to be. At local sunset, the incoming skip angle is low and a seaside receiving site is advantageous. Though sunset is "prime time", signals can peak up again as dawn approaches around 0300 - 0330 UTC. The presence of Egypt atop Spain on 774 or 1107 points the way to other DX targets in that area (such as Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon). Don't confuse Egyptians with co-channel Moroccans. If Arabic heard on 819 is parallel to 612 medium-wave and 207 longwave, it's Morocco rather than Egypt.
19. SLOVAKIA This spin-off country from old Czechoslovakia is much easier to hear than its relative, the Czech Republic. Nitra on 1098 runs big power (1.5 megawatts) and it can roll over co-channel Spain when northerly propagation paths are active. The Slavic talk comes in well when the major high-band Germans are strong. 702 and 1287 are other channels worth watching.
20. MAURITANIA Nouakchott is a long-time straggler on the old-plan channel of 1349 kHz. It can be received at sunset during auroras that kill off most other TA's. Sign-off is at 2400 (0000). During auroral conditions favoring reception, the signal is far stronger at the seashore than it is just a few miles inland. Programming includes Islamic cultural content, African and Arabic music, and talk in French and Arabic. Check for the shortwave parallel on 4845 kHz.
21. SWITZERLAND The only really viable channel now is Sottens on 765. This runs French programming and classical music and is often heard well after 0100 when Dakar goes off. The German language outlet on 531 occasionally breaks through the usual Spain / Algeria / Madeira mix on that channel. Sarnen on 1566 kHz is currently silent, but keep an ear open for this on-again, off-again station.
22. ITALY There are several Italian MW frequencies commonly reported by North American DXers. For those not in the splash zone of WEEI - 850, Rome on 846 kHz may be your best bet. This high-powered 24-hour station runs the early morning (Italian time) "Notturno Italiano" program featuring blocks of music and talk in several languages including English. 900 can occasionally make it in at coastal sites. A shortwave parallel to both 846 and 900 can be heard on 6060. The synchronized stations on 1035, 1062, and 1116 (in parallel) sign-on at 0500. Italy on 1062 has been logged in eastern Massachusetts, despite QRM from co-channel Denmark and slop from WJLT, KYW, and Cuba. 1575 and 1332 are good high-band Italian channels to check and 1116 may be noted mixing with Spain, at least during above-average conditions. If you're lucky, you may be able to slice the 1449 Italian away from the 1450 "graveyard" jumble.
23. IRELAND RTE Athlone - 612 and Tullamore - 567 are your best bets. Best reception is in late autumn and early winter around 0500 to 0700. The outlet on 612 plays pop-rock music; 567 features more discussion programs, light pops, country, and traditional folk music. Although Ireland is one of the closer European countries having high-power MW stations, the stations on 567 and 612 don't get out as well as many other low-band Europeans. Partly this is due to a high bearing (52 degrees from Massachusetts), but mostly it is because the transmitter sites are in the center of the country in a low valley surrounded by mountains in all directions. If these stations were moved to the west coast of Ireland, say Clifden or Bundoran, the signals would be at least 10 dB stronger here. 567 suffers some co-channel Spain / Portugal QRM and 612 is heavily pestered by Morocco. English is the primary language used, although Gaelic is occasionally noted. If the two main stations are being heard, check lower-powered outlets on 729 and 1278. The Radio na Gaeltachta (all Gaelic language) outlets with their superb folk music programming are unfortunately low-powered. The 963 outlet near Dingle Peninsula is the most likely RNG station to be heard in North America because of its advantageous location. You have to work around potential QRM from Portugal, Tunisia, and Finland - among others. There have been a number of pirate operations in Ireland, though far fewer than in Holland.
24. BELGIUM Wolvertem - 1512 is good (usually over co-channel Saudi Arabia) at sunset (2000 - 2300 UTC) if you aren't near a "megapest" like WNRB - 1510. They have programming in blocks of languages including English and German. Check the WRTH for details. Also, try 1512 around 0600 in winter. 927 can be heard under good TA conditions before 2400 (0000) sign-off and after 0500 sign-on. Programming is usually in Dutch, with pop music often played. Some have reported other channels such as 540, 1188, and 1125.
25. WESTERN SAHARA The transmitter in Laayoune on 711 is usually good at coastal sites at sunset. Arabic music heard on the channel could also be Libya. If it is Libya, it will be parallel to 1251; if it's Western Sahara, it may sometimes parallel Morocco-612 but it's often noted with independent programming.
26. KUWAIT The Voice of America relay has made this country much easier to hear. Check 1548 kHz for English-language programming. The signal is sometimes mixed with co-channel British stations. At North American sunset and just before Kuwait sunrise, the VOA signal tends to peak up enough to dominate the channel.
27. RUSSIA (KALININGRAD) Bolshakovo on 1386 kHz and on 1143 kHz are fairly common wintertime catches in eastern Canada and the northeastern USA. At east coast sunset, 1386 runs English-language religious programming. When it's in, it's loud. But the southern edge of the auroral zone has to move quite far to the north. If the middle- and high-band German and British stations are strong, these stations are worth a try. Transmitter dawn openings are also possible. Foreign-service programming, including English, is broadcast in the evening. An outlet on 1215 has occasionally been heard through stronger stations from the UK and Spain.
CATEGORY C: MODERATELY DIFFICULT
28. ALBANIA This country's broadcasting organization has been affected drastically by the demise of communism's iron grip. In a move once thought unthinkable, the big transmitter on 1395 is being used by religious organizations. It does suffer quite a bit of interference from co-channel Netherlands. The US / Canada sunset period in winter (2000 - 2300 UTC) yields best reception. Other frequencies such as 648, 1089, 1215, and 1458 have substantial interference from stations in Britain, Spain, and elsewhere. 1395 is your best bet.
29. SWEDEN Solvesborg on 1179 is noted during the better winter sunset openings atop Canary Islands / Spain stations. Using a phasing system to throw a cardioid null at WHAM can often make all the difference in digging this one out successfully from northeastern USA receiving sites. Look for a variety of programs and languages during the 2000 - 2300 period, including English.
30. NORTHERN IRELAND The heterodyne from BBC Lisnagarvey on 1341 kHz will show up against the 1340 kHz "graveyarders" many nights from 0600 to transmitter dawn during winter if the English BBC stations are present above 1000 kHz. Slicing audio from the 1340 brouhaha can be tough, though. A strong 1341 signal and a good receiver are necessary. Programming may, at times, be parallel to other BBC outlets. This, and the fact that little else on 1341 can be heard in English, will help you ID this. Sunset period reception of Lisnagarvey (before 2400) is also possible, but sunset often favors lower-latitude propagation to the co-channel Spaniards on 1341. Another Northern Ireland station remotely possible is Belfast on 1026 kHz around transmitter dawn.
31. SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE The new Voice of America (VOA) outlet on 1530 can do surprisingly well at 0300 sign-on through WSAI and the Vatican. The low-latitude path, high frequency, and high power all help when conditions get auroral enough to weaken the channel's other two major players. It was logged in the Boston area several times during its first year of operation. Sometimes test tones are run around 0245 - 0255 prior to sign-on. This could be a tip-off to subsequent reception. At 0300 there is news in English, generally followed by a pop music show at 0310. Check 7405 kHz for the VOA African Service parallel. Sao Tome also has a station on 945 (in Portuguese) which could be mistaken for an Angolan. I haven't seen it logged; it might be inactive (or just hopelessly buried by others).
32. SYRIA Parallel transmitters on 783 and old-plan 827 are sometimes heard between local sunset and UTC midnight with Arabic talk and music.
33. LESOTHO Relay stations of the big international broadcasters have certainly helped put some formerly-rare countries within reach of North American DXers. Besides Sri Lanka and Sao Tome, Lesotho comes immediately to mind. The BBC relay on 1197 from this nation surrounded by South Africa can provide some real long-haul DX (7000+ miles) for us. It has been logged in Newfoundland, the New England states, and Florida. Best reception has been during moderate aurora about an hour after receiver sunset. Look for BBC World Service English programming.
CATEGORY D: DIFFICULT
34. YUGOSLAVIA (SERBIA) Beograd on 684 (behind Spain, usually) and Pristina on 1413 are your low- and high-band choices respectively. Look for these if big-gun eastern Europeans such as 1098 are in. The status of this country and the other Yugoslav spin-off "countries" such as Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, etc. remains in a state of flux.
35. AUSTRIA ORF Vienna on 1476 is the only channel for Austria. After a period of inactivity, it has returned to the air with a limited- hours transmission schedule. Look for it around 2000 to 2200 UTC, the North American winter sunset period. Programs are in German.
36. ANGOLA Look for Portuguese programs and African music (also American / European pop) on the distinctive "old plan" channels of 944, 1088, 1115, 1313, 1367, 1502, and 1586. Auroral conditions, Beverage aerials, and a coastal location will help greatly. The best frequency will be largely determined by the DXer's local pests. In eastern Massachusetts, 1088 and 1502 are best, followed by 1115 and 1367.
37. SUDAN If Egyptians and Saudi Arabians are doing well, try for Rebia, Sudan - 1296 at their 0300 sign-on. The signal can be good when the dawn "greyline" is near the transmitter. An interval signal parallel to 7200 shortwave is used. Arabic talk and Koran recitation (chanting) follows. QRM is largely from Spain, although England and Bulgaria may be rattling around in there as well.
38. TURKEY During good TA DX conditions, Istanbul (Mundanya) - 1017 can be heard, often mixing with co-channel Germany and Spain. Most receptions have been during the late autumn, between 0230 and 0330 with Turkish language programming and music intermediate in style between Greek and Arabic music. Look for this when Egypt - 1107 is rolling over more-common Spain. If this station is strong, consider the propagation door to the Middle East to be open. Have fun going after more exotic catches. Diyarbakir on 1062 has occasionally been reported by North American Beverage users, but it has a lot of co-channel competition from Denmark and Italy, for starters. Other high-powered Turks are listed for 558, 594, 630, 702, 765, 891, 927, and 954, but in every case there's something considerably stronger on each channel from western Europe and North Africa.
39. MADEIRA Portuguese language outlets on 531, 603, and 1530 have been logged in New England and Maritime Canada. All face substantial QRM on their respective channels. The right combinations of aurora, sunset or sunrise line placement, and directivity of the antenna / receiving location set-up can help pull these out. One should be advised that Portuguese heard on 1530 at sunset can be from WDJZ, a daytimer in Connecticut. Listen carefully before putting this one in the book. The 531 and 603 stations run 24 hours; Madeira - 1530 signs off at 0000 (0100 Saturday) and signs on at 0600. The 1 kW outlet on 1125 has been logged at beach sites in Cappahayden, NF and Plymouth, MA. Other Madeira outlets on 1017, 1332, and 1485 are low-power relays not likely to be heard over stronger co-channel TA's.
40. UKRAINE 1431 is the best of several possible Ukrainian channels. It's heard fairly often in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern USA. Ukrainians on 972, 1242, 1377, and 1404 were heard well along with 1431 during several Newfoundland DXpeditions. The complete set of DXpedition reports is available on Werner Funkenhauser's Web site "http://Home.InfoRamp.Net/~funk/#DXpeditions". These reports are a valuable reference for TA DX in general, but especially for the eastern Europeans that are heard much less frequently on this side of the Atlantic than the routine Spaniards, Moroccans, etc. Sunset (2000 - 2200 UTC) reception from the shore and later (approx. 0300) general reception periods are suggested for stations in the Ukraine, Russia, and neighboring areas.
41. CEUTA This Spanish settlement in northern Morocco has RadiOle on 1584. It can sometimes dominate over the co-channel Spain SER outlets. In the past it had jumped off-frequency, landing on 1585.2; lately the frequencyy control has been better, so the station is a bit harder to hear.
42. BURKINA FASO Ouagadougou on 747 kHz is your only real shot at this country unless you're running Beverages from Newfoundland during auroral conditions. Sunset is definitely the best time to bag 747. Look for a strong signal from Senegal on 765 compared to a weaker signal from Spain on 774 (signalling slightly auroral conditions conducive to good African reception with reduced interference from Europeans). If Senegal is blasting in, then you'll have a good chance of hearing Ouagadougou on 747. Hit this early in the evening, as domestic skip / slop and increased atmospheric / storm noise tend to diminish reception possibilities later. You may hear African music and talk in French and local languages at an apparently low modulation level. As with all local sunset period DX, the receiving site should be as close as possible to salt water in the direction of DX for optimum results. Shortwave parallels to 747 are on 4815 and 7230. There is a 10 kW station on 1008 that might make it in during aurora.
43. GABON Melene has sporadically been heard on 1554 kHz (an old-plan channel). This runs parallel to 4777 kHz shortwave, so checking this may be beneficial. Most reports of 1554 mention 2300 as a good reception time. Drum-oriented African music is the usual format. If this moves to 1557, reception will be much less likely, due to WQEW slop and France / Malta co-channel interference. Reception of Gabon seems to be as common in the southeast (Florida and Georgia) as in New England. Moderate aurora will help reception. There are Gabon outlets also listed for 549, 990, and 1575 in the 15 kW - 20 kW range, but hearing these would definitely require the optimum Beverage - beach - aurora combination.
44. LUXEMBOURG Marnach on 1440 kHz became tougher to hear than it had been back in the "old days" on 1439, but up till a few years ago, it was periodically heard in the northeastern USA - usually on dawn enhancement around 0500. Recently it has gone to a reduced- hours schedule. So now, with reception limited to the immediate post- sunset period and with heavy co-channel domestic QRM, it is MUCH harder to log from the USA. Even at the best shore sites at sunset in November and December, it's moderately difficult. At least receiver selectivity isn't too necessary, just lucky propagation. If Germans on 1017, 1269, 1422, and 1539 are strong, getting Luxembourg seems likely.
45. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Check 1476 around 0200 UTC. Others that might be heard include 1251 and 1314.
46. HUNGARY The parallel transmitters on 1188, 1251, and 1341 are worth chasing. These have cut back their operations and a move to the FM band has been mentioned. I would rate 1188 the best, as it suffers less co-channel QRM than the others. It does reasonably well in the Boston area with WOWO phased. 540 is a dark-horse possibility, if you can get through a pile of domestics and, conceivably, other TA's. If uncommon low-band Germans are conquering co-channel routine Spaniards, then a distinctly above-average opening is in the works and 540 is indeed possible. Hungarian sounds notably different from the Slavic languages spoken nearby. Listen to Hungarian on a shortwave outlet to gain the ability to identify it.
47. POLAND Stargard / Stettin-1503 should be checked if the high band Germans are strong. Harder to hear Polish stations have been noted on 819, 1206, 1305, and 1368 kHz.
48. JORDAN At sunset from coastal sites, 801 can be heard with Arabic music when artful antenna phasing or lucky propagation get co-channel Spain and the usually-tough 800 slop out of the way. 1494 might slip through at times when the high-band Saudi Arabians are unusually strong.
49. TUNISIA The Tunisian 60 Hz on the high side of Spain-585 is heard rarely. 630 might get through Portugal/CFCY/CHLT/WPRO/WSKN and 963 might slip by Portugal and Finland. This country has been tough DX since the big 1566 station went silent.
50. GREECE In late autumn just after sunset, the 981, 1179, and 1386 stations have been heard at coastal DXpedition sites in Massachusetts. VOA outlets on 792 and 1260 have been logged in Newfoundland.
The next countries to hear from across the Atlantic, after those listed so far, may be some on the following list. Note that the order is alphabetical, not ranked on difficulty. Some may find a few of these to be easier than some of the first 50 countries enumerated above - ease of reception is, after all, influenced by many factors. The additional targets list was compiled a few years ago, so check the current WRTH for updated information.
ADDITIONAL TA DX TARGETS
|Ascension Island||1485 1602|
|Bosnia - Hercegovina||612 945|
|Botswana||621 648 972|
|Bulgaria||594 747 828 864 1161 1224 1296|
|Central African Rep.||1440|
|Congo Republic||863 1476|
|Cyprus||963 1233 1323|
|Czech Republic||639 954 1287|
|Estonia||1035 1215 (?)|
|Ethiopia||855 873 945|
|Gambia||648 747 907.8|
|Guinea||603 1386 (1404 inactive)|
|Iceland||666 738 1485 1530 (all low power)|
|India||1071 1134 1566|
|Iran||1404 1449 1566|
|Iraq||1530 (clandestine) 1035? 1197|
|Isle of Man||1368|
|Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire)||1493 1578|
|Kenya||540 612 702 746 846 900 954 981|
|Lebanon||837 873 953|
|Malawi||594 675 756|
|Moldova||594 999 1449 1467|
|Monaco||702 (see France for 1467)|
|Mozambique||737 872 1008 1295|
|Nigeria||593 657 909 918 1170 1395 others|
|Romania||558 756 855 1053 1152 1179|
|Russia, European||810 1089 1116 1494|
|Scotland||810 1035 1152 1449|
|South Africa||558 576 603 702 846 1035|
|Swaziland||954 1170 1377|
|Syria||783 918 1125|
|Tanzania||603 621 648 657 711 1215|
|Uganda||576 639 729 999|
|Yemen||792 1008 1188|
|Zambia||549 630 818 828 1071 others|
Surprisingly, many of these HAVE actually been heard by MW DXers in Canada and the United States.
The following countries are propagationally-possible, but do not have medium-wave operation at the present time: Andorra, Burundi, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Rwanda, Tristan da Cunha, Zimbabwe.
APPENDIX: Table of sunset and sunrise times of interest to TA DXers. (Times listed, in UTC (GMT), are for the middle of the month listed)
SUNSET: NORTH AMERICA (receiving end of path)
|Month||Denver||Chicago||Miami||Washington||Boston||St. Johns, NF|
SUNRISE: EUROPE/NORTH AFRICA/NEAR EAST (transmitting end of path)