Greetings from Charleston where the air is filled with amazing DX! This is the inaugural posting from the DX Central blog! This is a goal I have had for a long time, to share my knowledge of the DX hobby with others in the hopes that they may find the same sense of satisfaction that I have from spinning the dials for the past 30 years.
I wanted to start this blog as a resource for anyone that is interested in getting started into AM or FM DX. Of all of the iterations of the DX hobby, AM and FM have the least obtrusive barriers to entry, it can be incredibly cheap to get started and yet still offer you an almost endless well to continually return to. You do not have to have any specialized knowledge to get started, no license requirements, no expensive equipment or technical expertise. Just a radio and a desire to hear what is out there.
My own journey, I have learned, is like that of most that end up with a passion for DXing. It started at an early age, from a youth surrounded by radios in what I love to call a overwhelmingly "RF-friendly" household. My father (N5FPW) and mother (W4GVH) were already well known names in the DX community by the time I learned what shortwave radio was. They both were writers for Monitoring Times magazine and had carved out their very own niche for themselves. Mom as a shortwave radio guru, especially in the elusive tropical bands. Dad used his years of military service in the US Navy to provide an 'inside look' into military communications, satellites and 'utilities'.
My first QSL (an amateur radio term used for a verification of reception) came from shortwave radio and the international broadcast of the BBC in London, England. Pretty standard fare, usually one of the first stations that most shortwave radio hobbyists are able to pull in. For the next few years, I dabbled in shortwave but nothing yet really made me catch 'the DX bug."
Then, on February 25, 1993 while we were living in New Orleans, Louisiana, everything changed. That night, as I made my way to bed, I turned on my bedside click radio. I don't know what was different about this night from all of the others, but for some reason, I just started turning the dial reveling in the static and sounds coming through the tiny General Electric speaker.
Suddenly, a booming voice burst through the static. "we will return to St. Louis Blues hockey right here on 1120, KMOX."
I was amazed! It was one thing to pick up London, England on a radio designed for international broadcasts, but this was an AM radio and I was hearing all of the way into Missouri?!
I had not yet learned about Skywave propagation, 50,000-watt clear channel radio giants, or that there was much more exotic locales behind that dial than a monster station only 575 miles away.
I really do not know what it was about AM radio that fascinated me the way it did - and continues to do. Part of it I think is the mystique of the sneak-peak into the lives of others. Hearing a weather forecast that is different than your own, hearing local traffic updates for roads you don't drive on every day. Hearing local advertisements for businesses you will likely never use. Trying to imagine what life is like in a whole other area. I dream of turning on my AM radio from the East Coast and hearing signals from the Pacific Northwest or deep into South America - lands that may as well be entirely new planets from what I am used to.
Since that cold, February night I have spent countless numbers of hours behind the dials listening for distant radio stations, researching radios and antennas that could help me pull in elusive signals, and dreaming of my ultimate "dream shack" where no signal could escape my persistent pursuit.
If you are a seasoned DXer, then welcome! Hopefully you will find information or motivation to continue your own pursuits. If you have yet to even begin dabbling your toes into the DX waters - or aren't even sure what DX means - then browse these pages to find everything you need to get started.
As we say in amateur radio, 73 and best of DX!