European DX Council – An Ode to Joy!

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Chrissy Brand reports from the 2018 European DX Council Conference, held in Slovakia and Austria in the late summer

 

Chrissy Brand reports from the 2018 European DX Council Conference, held in Slovakia and Austria in the late summer. She also showcases readers' recent DX catches.

 

I began writing this month's column from the Slovak capital of Bratislava, where I attended the annual European DX Council conference. Delegates were spoilt for choice, with visits to three radio organisations, a television tower, and a medium wave transmitter mast.

Furthermore, there was an impressive array of lectures and presentations, ranging from the work of the HFCC and the best aerials for an urban environment, to DXing in India. The enjoyable social programme led to a busy few days.

The EDXC conference venue was at the Hotel West, in forested hills just to the north of Bratislava. There were wonderful woodland walks and vistas towards the Little Carpathians mountain range. Nearby, the Soviet-era Kamzik TV tower (Fig. 1) dominated the view; at night, parts of it were bathed in red light. With clouds scudding past, it resembled an alien craft. The restaurant in the tower served fantastic food and afforded great panoramic views into Austria and Hungary as well as across Bratislava, including Slovak Radio’s upside-down pyramid building. Many local radio stations transmit their signal from the tower, including Fun Radio. Radio Expres, Radio Viva, Europa and Radio Devin.

 

Radio Station Visits

The visit to Slovensky rozhlas (Slovak Radio) gave us an enticing glimpse into a national broadcaster, one that still proudly hosts several language services for a global audience, as well as several other national stations. Anca Dragu, of Radio Slovakia International’s English Service, showed us around.

Architecturally, this is surely the most distinctive radio building on the planet (Fig. 2). Work on the building commenced in 1969. Its eleven stories were originally meant to accommodate 1,500 people. However, this figure was never reached because, over the many years of construction, broadcast and office technology evolved, resulting in a need for less space and fewer employees. A total of 350 staff currently work there.

At least 35% of music played on the air in Slovakia must be Slovak, and 20% of that must be new music. Radio Slovakia International can be heard via WRMI on short wave, locally on 98.9 MHz after 1800 local time and online. During the day, the FM frequency is used by Radio Patria, Slovensky rozhlas’ station for the country’s Hungarian-speaking population and for other minority groups. Radio Patria also uses 1098kHz medium wave.

http://enrsi.rtvs.sk

After the conference sessions had concluded, delegates decamped to Vienna. Along with a social programme, there were visits to two more radio station buildings. Krone Hit and ORF.

Commercial radio was legalised in Austria in 1995 (only Belarus was later), and stations came on the air from 1998.

Krone Hit is a national station aimed at the youth market. It plays the usual mainstream music heard on radio dials everywhere. Our tour included meeting DJ Christian Mederitsch during his live show. He has been in radio for seventeen years and at Krone Hit for the past ten.

A visit to the grand ORF building was a real treat (Fig. 4). Its 1930s grandeur is very impressive, from the foyer to the concert hall studios. I was awed by Studio 3, which had its original wood panelling and many murals depicting rural scenes (Fig. 3).

As a youngster, 24 years ago, Riem Higazi was one of the founders of the ORF FM4 station (Fig. 5). It was set up as an alternative music station. Riem is still working for the station today. FM4 effectively subsumed Blue Danube Radio. That was an English-speaking station with an adult contemporary music format, which was started in the early 1980s for UN employees in Vienna. Some former Blue Danube Radio employees still work for FM4 today.

You can hear FM4 online and through an app and it’s worthwhile listening. Although aimed at a younger audience, I am a regular listener and enjoy the music and features. FM4 airs in English from 0200 to 1400, then in German from 1400 to 0200. All news broadcasts are in English though, and some in the mornings are in French.

You may also wish to read about my previous visit to Radio Slovakia International and ORF (RadioUser, January 2017: 40).

 

Conference Presentations

The conference sessions covered many aspects of the world of broadcast radio (Fig. 6). Jarmo Salvi (Finnish DX Association) spoke about ‘Small Antennae [sic] in Urban Environments’. He successfully used many variations: a cheap dipole antenna, a magnetic loop antenna with amplifiers, a PA0RDT mini whip hung outside the building, an MFJ-1022, and an MFJ-1024 active aerial.

CK Raman from India spoke of the DX catches made in that country, where DXing is a very popular hobby. Listening in the east of India on medium wave, in the best conditions, stations can be heard from Cambodia, China, Laos, Nepal and Thailand. To the south, the band is crowded with stations from Sri Lanka and the Maldives for the dedicated DXer to monitor. Stations heard can include Laos on 567kHz, Kyrgyz Radio on 612kHz, Japan on 828 and 873kHz and the Philippines on 1530kHz.

The familiar story of China Radio International being dominant on short wave is, to some degree, counterbalanced by the FM catches that have included stations in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Turkmenistan. Tips are often shared by Indian DXers via a WhatsApp group. Short wave still has its attractions, with Brazil heard on 11780kHz, Radio Clube do Para on 4885kHz and Radio Tarma in Peru on 4775kHz. Radio Tarma is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

CK played some audio files of his and other Indian DXers’ catches. These included BBC Radio 4 on 198kHz, the Czech Republic on 270kHz, and Turkmenistan on 279kHz.

Local host Harald Seuss of the Austrian DX Club gave an informative presentation on the history of GMT. The journey to a global time format came about partly through the need of 19th Century railway companies to unify the different time zones within countries. The Washington DC Meridian Conference of October 1864 was also a key step. However, a forerunner in the GMT story was a paper entitled A Proposal to Determine our Latitude, put forward by English scientific writer Jane Squire in 1743.

Jeff White (General Manager, WRMI) gave a presentation about WRMI and HFCC, aided by Thais White (Office and Travel Manager, WRMI). WRMI began back in 1989, renting airtime from WHRI and other US stations. Its modest start led to a WRMI 50kW transmitter north-west of Miami going on the air in 1994. WRMI started on 9955kHz from Okeechobee, Florida on December 1st, 2013.

As well as relaying current programmes of many former short wave stalwarts like Radio Prague, Radio Argentina al Exterior and Radio Slovakia International, WRMI has reported live from special events, including the SWL Winter Fest in Pennsylvania. Jeff interviewed some of the EDXC conference delegates for use in Wavescan programmes this autumn.

Throughout September and October, WRMI transmitted Radio Marti’s Spanish commentaries of US baseball matches featuring Cuban players, towards Cuba. These were on 5950kHz on Sundays 2000 to 000 UTC; and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2300 to 0200 UTC. If the pilot is successful, these broadcasts will be rolled out as regular programming for the 2019 baseball season.

The HFCC Conference for the B18 season also took place in Bratislava in August. Interviews conducted during the event will also air on Wavescan. At the HFCC Conferences, each night, frequency lists for the forthcoming season are produced. Overnight, broadcasters’ representatives check for any clashes of frequencies. Any issues are hopefully resolved the next day.

Jukka Kotavirta (Finnish DX Association) summed up the 2018 FM season as being “disappointing”. However, a few Portuguese stations were heard in Finland in June.

An EDXC trip over the border into Hungary included a stop at the medium wave mast site operated by Antenna Hungaria, near Mosonmagyaróvár. Radio Danko on 1161kHz is transmitted from here.

 

Readers’ Reports

Paul Glover in Worthing hears Radio Kuwait regularly, from 0700 to 0900 on 15530kHz with just a little fading.

Lionel Clyne noted that the number of Overcomer Ministry broadcasts have increased. After the station’s supremo Brother Stair was arrested last December, most of the Overcomer Ministry’s transmissions went off the air. However, there was a steady increase throughout the summer, which included a temporary eight-hour weekday slot of airtime on Channel 292 in Germany. Lionel heard one of these transmissions at 0850 UTC on 6070kHz, with a 44233 SINPO.

The Voice of Korea was received at 1449 UTC, broadcasting in French from Kujang on 15245kHz. The programme content consisted of an announcement in French and mostly music, “on the popular spectrum of North Korean music, as far as that exists.” Lionel compared that with the English language transmission logged on the previous day at 1525 UTC on 13760kHz and a 44233 SINPO. It was, “mainly martial music, plus a choir and orchestral accompaniment with more than just a hint of western flavour.

Lionel also heard Bible Voice at 1827 UTC on 6295kHz in English with a 44233 SINPO and witnessed what he described as, “Dreary sermonising delivered in typical transatlantic ‘newspeak’.”

Graham Smith observed a mysterious station on 981kHz playing classical music in the middle of the night. He wrote, “It isn't the Czech station Český Impuls because I can hear that in the background, and it isn't Algeria because the station comes from an east-west direction. I think it is Radio Trst, broadcasting in Slovenian from Trieste, Italy.”

Tony Stickells’ log highlights in August and September were three Indian stations on the 60m band and a nice selection of South American signals. He also heard Shiokaze (Radio Sea Breeze) on 7215kHz, in English, from Japan. This station started in 2005 and is operated by COMJAN (The ‘Investigation on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea’).

Ydun Ritz pointed out that the World Music Radio 5840kHz transmitter is located in Randers in Denmark and not in Karup, as was stated in a previous RadioUser log.

 

Log Contributors

GS = Graham Smith, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Sony ICF-SW600 and a telescopic antenna.

LC = Lionel Clyne, Faversham, Kent. Lowe HF-150, random wire or homemade loop.

OR - Owen Rutherford, London. Lowe HF-150 and a Wellbrook loop.

SC = Scott Caldwell, Warrington, Cheshire. Sony ICF2001D, DX364, Lowe HF-225, Alinco DX-R8, AOR LA40 and a Wellbrook ALA 1530 loop.

TS = Tony Stickells, Wrexham. SDRplay RSP2, AOR AR7030 and a 500ft long wire.

 

Short Wave Logs

 

UTC

kHz

Station and location

Language

SINPO

Initials

0600

13830

Voice of America

French

45555

GS

1138

17590

Vatican Radio, Santa Maria

English

45544

TS

1143

17670

Radio Romania International

English

35333

TS

1236

15450

TRT Voice of Turkey

English

45444

TS

1245

15160

Radio Romania International

Chinese

35545

GS

1307

15245

Voice of Korea // 13760, Kujang, North Korea

English

45544

TS

1348

13680

Voice of Hope Africa, Lusaka, Zambia

English

35323

TS

1411

11850

Radio Liberty, Biblis, Germany

Turkmen

35333

TS

1425

15400

Athmeeya Yatra, Nauen

Arabic

54344

LC

1439

13695

All India Radio

English

35343

TS

1505

15550

Radio Tamazuj, Santa Maria Galaria

Sudanese Arabic

55455

LC

1508

17530

VOA, Botswana

English

35343

TS

1512

15435

Bible Voice, Sofia

Arabic

45444

LC

1517

11765.7

Super Radio Deus e Amor, Curitiba, Brazil

Portuguese

35333

TS

1603

7385

PBS Xinjiang, Lhasa, Tibet

English

35343

TS

1610

7280

Voice of Vietnam

English

35444

TS

1612

15140

Radio Sultanate of Oman, Thrum ait

Arabic

55455

LC

1612

17815

WHRI, Cypress Creek, USA

English

35343

TS

1614

17830

BBC WS, Ascension Island // 17640, 17780 at 1700

English

25212

TS

1642

15565

Vatican Radio, Santa Maria

English

35454

TS

1701

13590

VOA, Woofferton, UK

English

35323

TS

1709

11810

Radio Romania International, Ţigăneşti

English

55555

TS

1712

11885

Channel Africa, Meyerton, South Africa

English

35444

TS

1745

9910

Radio Pilipinas, Tinang, Philippines //12120

English

25233

TS

1803

13580

Radio Bangladesh Betar

English

55545

TS

1817

11995

Radio France International

French

25343

TS

1820

6235

Coast FM

English

44444

LC

1820

13580

Bangladesh Betar, Dhaka

English

55455

LC

1838

4765

Tajik Radio 1, Dushanbe-Yangiyul, Tajikistan

Tajik

25212

TS

1839

13605

Radio Marti, Greenville, ME, USA

Spanish

25223

TS

1910

12060

Voice of Korea // 11985

French

44333

LC, OR

1911

9920

Radio Thailand

English

45544

TS

1912

6185

Radio Taiwan International, Woofferton

German

55555

LC, OR

1913

9730

Voice of Vietnam

English

52443

TS, OR

1938

6160

Shortwave Radio, Winsen, Germany

English

55444

LC, OR

1940

9810

IRIB WS, Sirjan, Iran

English

45434

TS

2035

4960

VOA, Sao Tome

English

25232

TS

2040

11850

Radio Romania International, Ţigăneşti

English

45444

TS, OR

2042

9818.7

Rádio 9 de Julho, São Paulo, Brazil

Portuguese

25232

TS

2105

11740

All India Radio

English

25232

TS

2207

11790

KNLS New Life, Madagascar

Arabic

35344

TS

2208

11810

KBS World Radio, South Korea

English

35333

TS

2211

9830

TRT Voice of Turkey

English

45555

TS

2221

4845

Rádio Cultura, Manaus, Brazil

Portuguese

35223

TS

2231

4875.3

Radio Difusora Roraima, Boa Vista, Brazil

Portuguese

35222

TS

2233

4949.7

Radio Nacional Angola

Portuguese

25442

TS

2308

5040

Radio Habana, Cuba

English

35223

TS

2335

5130

WBQC The Planet, ME, USA

English

35322

TS

 

Medium Wave Logs

 

kHz

UTC

Station and location

Language

SINPO

Initials

576

2250

RNE, Barcelona // 736

Spanish

44333

SC

585

0049

RNE, Madrid

Spanish

54444

SC

612

2300

RNE, multi sites // 639, 729, 747

Spanish

43333

SC

684

0001

RNE, Sevilla

Spanish

54444

SC

711

0004

COPE, Murcia

Spanish

44333

SC

783

0013

COPE, Barcelona

Spanish

33333

SC

900

2327

RAI Milan

Italian

44444

SC

918

0012

Radio Intereconomia, Madrid

Spanish

43333

SC

956

0035

Onda Cero Radio, Madrid

Spanish

44444

SC

1008

2328

Groot Nieuws Radio, The Netherlands

Dutch

54444

SC

1044

2320

SER Radio, San Sebastian

Spanish

43333

SC

1575

2346

RAI

Italian

32222

SC

1593

2243

Bretagne 5

French

44444

SC

 

This article was featured in the November 2018 issue of Radio User