Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Winter DX Season 2010
Great mediumwave conditions were apparent three mornings ago (September 11). I'm an early riser, and at 6AM I'm usually on the way to the coffee shop DXing on the truck radio. Of course at that time of the morning it's still very dark out. The sun doesn't rise here until 6:40L. Tuning to 850 KHz at the top of the hour news, I caught a nice full ID from 50KW KOA-850, Denver, CO (1420 miles) at 0605L. The KOA radiator, a single tower located 30 miles to the southeast in Parker, CO, is a skyscraping 667.9 ft. tall, almost a full 5/8 wavelength in height. As advertised, KOA gets out to some 38 states, and probably more. KOA began broadcasting in 1924.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I lived a mere 10 miles southeast of this transmitter, out in the rolling eastern plains of Colorado near the town of Elizabeth. I worked in Denver, and would drive past this tower every day (or night) on the way to and from work, often seeing mule deer or prong-horned antelope. Coming from the east, a long hill descended down appropriately-named Hilltop Road, ending at Colorado Highway 83 which ran past the tower. Headed to work one night for the graveyard shift during a blizzard, at midnight I remember becoming disoriented in the whiteout and losing control while descending that hill, shooting straight across highway 83 and through a barbed wire fence, coming to rest in the field right next to the KOA tower. Ah, memories.
KOA is a tough catch here in western New York with nighttime interference from sports stations WKGE-850, Johnstown, PA (10KW), at 199 miles, and WKNR-850, Cleveland, OH (4.7KW), at 235 miles. Interestingly, on my cross country trip each year I start to hear KOA at night consistently once I get west of Ohio and into Indiana, and under the 1200 mile distance range. I find there's something brick-wallish about that 1200 mile distance in mediumwave DXing.
WWL-870, New Orleans, LA (50KW), 1136 miles, is also appearing almost daily on the 6AM trip. WWL has a two tower antenna array, oriented south-north with major lobes to the northwest, and northeast. The northeast lobe points directly at me. Each of WWL's towers is a full 1/2 wavelength tall. With 3.3 dB gain in my direction, it pumps a healthy effective radiated power of 106KW right up a pipeline to New York. WWL's transmitters are located approximately 2 miles southwest of Estelle, LA, in the Jean Lafitte Preserve, a wetlands. All that water undoubtedly helps too. WWL has been in operation since 1922, predating KOA by two years.
Apparently the winter DX season is upon us once again.