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Great Website

These days my idea of getting lucky is finding a great website about radio.

David Gleason On The Web really caught my attention and occupied much of my Saturday morning.

Gleason is a life long radio guy having caught the bug as a kid in Cleveland.  He started DXing in the 50s and has had a fascinating career in the US and Latin America.

The site is filled with pictures that include his travels in 1963 to Mexico City and other locales in Latin America.   It includes color shots of studios, transmitters and station buildings from that era.

One highlight is the extensive collection of Broadcasting Yearbooks he has put on line.  It makes for an interesting walk through radio and television’s history to see ads and listings for stations starting in the 40s.

Take some time to travel back in time.  It is a site you’ll return to again and again.

http://www.davidgleason.com/

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2008 in DX, Radio History, Radio programming

 

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The Radio Clock

At this time of year many of us turn to DXing in the evening.

This is especially true of Mets fans suffering through baseball withdrawal after our annual grueling last day of the season.  That’s the one where the team blows their playoff chances.

We’re kinda getting used to it.

Depending on where you are in the US one very interesting station might pop out of the AM band.

It is the longest running all news formatted station in the world.  Radio Reloj from Cuba.

Even if you haven’t heard the actual programming of Radio Reloj, it is possible you’ve heard them.  The station is clearly identified by a ‘clock’ sound and Morse code of RR every minute.

It is not uncommon to hear the ticking clock sound under a station on the same frequency in your local area.

Radio Reloj is very simple, two announcers reading news with the clocking ticking in the background. There is no production or commercials.

Live time checks are given every minute.

Reloj is heard on several frequencies.

I’ve caught them under WSYR in Syracuse on 570 and on that same frequency in Central Texas.

It is also heard on 790, 820, 950, 1020 and a few others.

Radio Reloj went on the air in 1947 and continued  through the revolution of the 1950s.

It is said to be the most popular station in Cuba.

So if you hear a ‘ticking’ sound your radio does not have a time bomb attached.  It’s Radio Reloj from Cuba.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2008 in DX, Radio History, Radio programming

 

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Radio Geek, or Is It Nerd? (You’re a Dweeb Dad)

If you read these pages you know radios are my weakness.

Big ones, small ones. New ones, old ones.

Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg Ohio is my favorite store. I make a pilgrimage there a couple of times a year.

In between trips the Universal website is a regular destination for me. http://universal-radio.com/

DXing AM radio is my life-long passion. I’d much rather hear Mexican League Baseball coming through the static on XEMR than something clear on XM.

A few of my favorite radios…

Grundig’s new G4 is a compact AM/FM/SW/LW radio with MP3 recorder. It records and plays back broadcasts and mp3 files, which is very handy for radio PDs. It takes a little time to learn, but seems to be a good travel companion.

The Grundig G5 is slightly larger, it does not record but has excellent sensitivity. It is a pretty good DX radio and excellent for traveling.

Sangean DT 200V X is shirtpocket size and a little power house for DX. It has a nice digital display and surprisingly good sensitivity, especially for AM DX.

The Sony 2010 is out of production but a classic. Universal had several refurbished models on sale. This is a truly great radio.

The Sony 7600 now offered as 7600GR is about the same size as the G5. It is close to the 2010 in quality. But the 2010 is more fun to use.

For tabletop AOR 7030 is outstanding with great audio. I just bought software to control mine which is a totally new experience.

The ICOM R 75 is a good receiver but the audio is not as good as the AOR 7030. Still I’ve made some good DX catches on it.

Eton E1 XM is a very good DX radio too. It has many good features and easier to use than the others.

A good radio is important, but the right antenna is critical.

Gerry Thomas of Radio Plus in Pensacola Florida makes the Quantum Loop by hand. This tunable, directable loop comes in a couple of versions and sells for around $200 and well worth the price.

I can’t say enough about the quality of Gerry’s work and his service. Their site is http://dxtools.com/

The best DX radio I ever owned was the first one. A 1940s era Emerson.

That radio takes an honored spot in my office.

The dial still has the location of WMTR marked by pencil to find the school closings.

Don Barry was an early hero of mine.

He read them.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2008 in DX

 

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The Rock Of Chicago And Beyond

Thanks again to everyone at WLS for the Memorial Day Rewind.

WLS dropped their talk programming and dedicated the day to the memory of WLS Musicradio.

Texas has stations on 890 in Rio Grande Valley and Dallas. I’m in between those and it is difficult to hear WLS here at night.

Listening to John Records Landecker on the WLS stream isn’t quite the same as hearing the signal through the on air audio processing.

The WLS skywave finally arrived here around 9:30.

WLS Musicradio always sounded big, really big, especially on clear cold nights. Perhaps it was slight reverb on the audio chain.

Listening to skywave of WLS and other stations was how we learned radio in the 60s and 70s.

Live in New Jersey as I did and you could hear WLS , WCFL and WMAQ from Chicago, WKBW Buffalo, WDRC and WPOP Hartford, WFIL (but not WIBG too directional) Philadelphia, WBT Charlotte, WOWO Fort Wayne, CKLW Windsor (Detroit), WGAR Cleveland, WFBL Baltimore, WAEB Allentown and all those New York stations like WABC and WMCA.

Sunday was my favorite night of the week because many stations signed off for transmitter maintenance from 12 Midnight to 5am. On those nights it was even possible to catch KFI Los Angeles or WOAI San Antonio in New Jersey.

It’s fun to hear airchecks and rewind specials from time to time. But you can never go back.

Radio is a different animal today but you can easily listen to great radio stations from around the world on your computer.

Simply Google some of these and you’ll be tuned into some of the best stations in the world.

Nova96.9, Mix 106.5, WSFM, 2DAY FM and Triple M all in Sydney Australia. Check out Capital FM in London, UK or The Radio Network Stations in New Zealand. South Africa is another spot for well programmed stations.

We were once limited to listening to stations on a radio, today we can learn from stations from around the world on our computers.

There is lots to hear.

 
 

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“On The Shortwaves”

I like radio no matter what band it’s on.

Shortwave isn’t too well known in the US, Australia and many other countries unless you are a hardcore hobbyist.

I stood in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation store in downtown Sydney one day and listened to the clerk tell a customer they didn’t have a shortwave service. Yikes.

Radio Australia is an excellent station. They can be heard early in the morning in the US. Check out “Saturday Night Country”, which because of time difference is heard early Saturday morning here.

ABC and Radio New Zealand often rebroadcast their domestic news programming on the shortwaves.

It was only twenty years ago or so that I could listen to morning drive from South Africa’s shortwave relay of Radio 5 at my home in Houston. It’s still possible to hear morning shows broadcasting from places like Nigeria.

Many once powerful shortwave broadcasters have given up or moved to the internet. But there are still interesting stations and programs to be found, even on a fairly low cost radio.

Jerry Berg has a very interesting web site called “On The Shortwaves”. It’s loaded with great information and lots of history.

http://www.ontheshortwaves.com/

Glenn Hauser is probably the leading authority on shortwave programming. Check out his site “World Of Radio”

http://www.worldofradio.com/

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in DX, Radio History

 

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Great Radios

Several readers sent emails asking about my favorite radios after seeing yesterday’s posting.

At the moment my favorite is the AOR AR7030. It’s a bit pricey but the features and sensitivity are worth it for DX.

Second on my list is also a table top communications receiver the ICOM R75. It’s fun and great when tuning hard to find stations in sideband.

The Eton E1 is a very good portable. It has nice features, but a little too big to be considered a good travel radio.

Eton and Grundig make a G5. It’s a small portable that has amazing sensitivity for DXing.

The best of the portables in my opinion is the tried and true Sony 2010. Mine is 20 years old, and has been refurbished. It works like new.

The Sangean DT-200VX is a great little pocket radio, with very good DX ability.

Believe it or not the Sony Walkman SRF-59 is a mini DX machine. There have been reports of hearing trans Pacific and trans Atlantic stations here in the US. It sells for less than $20 at Target.

A great antenna for AM DX is the Quantum Loop. Each one is hand made by Gerry Thomas. Put a Quantum Loop on any of these radios and you’re really in business.

Gerry’s company is called Radioplus and found on the web at dxtools.com.

You can see most of the radios at the Universal Radio website, which is Universal-Radio.com.

I’d love to hear which radios you prefer. Email me at AlanGFurst@aol.com

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2008 in DX

 

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Pay Attention To Details (and good DX)

Radio was my passion from an early age.

It is still exciting to hear stations from hundreds of miles away while DXing.

People who have worked in radio for years give me a puzzled look when I mention my DX hobby.

DX, for those new to the term means distance and was first used in the days of the telegraph. In radio we use it to mean listening to distant stations.

At night AM radio signals are able to bounce off the ionosphere and be heard hundreds if not thousands of miles from the transmitter.

DXing opened the whole world of radio to me. I could listen at night to stations from Chicago, Boston, Ft. Wayne and Buffalo from my location in Succasunna, New Jersey. (Yes a real place).

Each night was like a virtual classroom for a radio geek like me. There was WLS Chicago, CKLW Windsor and Ron Gregory on WOWO.

The late 60s and early 70s was a period of great radio with amazing jocks. Well they seemed amazing then. I owe a lot to all of them for helping me learn the business.

These days there are very few locally produced night time shows on AM radio. Most are programming talk from a network. That doesn’t keep me from spending too money on nice radios (my wife’s words, not mine) and trying for Radio Reloj in Cuba or CKWW Vancouver.

I’ve logged close to 350 AM stations here in Central Texas. That’s a small number compared to some DX’ers who have 2,000 or more.

But from my DXing habit I can offer some thoughts about why AM stations struggle beyond the simple problem of being on AM.

First on my list is lack of identity. I am amazed how often stations neglect to identify themselves during breaks in the network shows.

I’m actively listening for the ID and location and don’t hear it. A casual listener would have no idea what station they are listening to. They lose the battle in Arbitron.

Secondly, there is almost no promotion of other shows on these stations. Tell me how to use the station. Give me a reason to listen later today or tomorrow.

Thirdly, plant your flag in the local community. Most stations could be coming from anywhere.

Keep the production fresh. It is amazing how many times the promos are out dated or misplaced in the log.

Focus on the details. Have someone who manages the promos, IDs and other elements.

Here are my top five suggestions for AM talk stations.

  • Identify the station. Do this at beginning, during, at end of commercial breaks. Don’t be shy about your name.
  • Promote the shows coming up later today and tomorrow. Help the listener listen.
  • Be local. Make sure the weather report sounds like it belongs in your area.
  • Keep production fresh. Eliminate all outdated material.
  • Pay attention to all the details, listen to your station with a ‘listener’s’ ear.

The National Radio Club website can give you more information about the hobby of DXing. http://www.nrcdxas.org/

Happy listening and good DX, 73s

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2008 in DX, Radio programming

 

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