The couple that DXes together...doubles their chances at great DX


Will Loyd soon be having to make room for another listening spot in his DX shack?

A ROAD TRIP REVELATION

Returning home from my previously discussed road trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, one of our car ride conversations turned to weighty topics, as they often do over the span of a 13-hour car ride.


One of those centered around one of our favorite movies: Contact. I think it might have been because we were stopping for the night in Pensacola and that triggered a memory for my wife of one of the early scenes in the movie.


Without missing a beat, she quoted verbatim the scene where a young Ellie (W9GFO) calls CQ into a lonely amateur radio band, only to be answered by a man with a Southern drawl.


For those that have not yet seen the movie, the man (K4WLD) notifies the young Ellie he is located in Pensacola. Her father, encouraging her passion for science and technology, tries to help her figure out which state Pensacola is located in.


A hint regarding orange juice helps Ellie pinpoint the QTH of her DX.


"Copy that K4WLD," my wife imitated. "how's the weather down there in Florida?"


I have to admit, I was impressed. She not only remembered the line, even the callsign of the DX station!


"You know," my wife began, "growing up I always wanted to be Ellie."


This was my chance.


"Well, you sounded like a natural rattling off that callsign," I told her.


My wife had joined me before in the shack during Field Day but, it really didn't stick. She had also seen me spend hours upon hours in front of the dials and yet, to date, nothing materialized with any interest in figuring out what it was all about. But if I could tie it in with one of her favorite movie characters....I might just have a shot.


"You know," I casually started, "I could teach you that stuff."


"What, DX?"


"Yup. It doesn't have to even be the ham radio stuff, I know you might be hesitant to talk on the radio. I can teach you just the art of listening to the radio and how to do it right. Too many hams don't really ever hone that skill so even if you want to talk on the radio, you need to master the art of DX first."


"What, with AM radio?" she asked. Remember, this was a woman that had just spent the past week staring at a large magnetic loop antenna sitting on top of a tripod in our hotel room in New Orleans.


"We could. Or FM radio, or even shortwave. Hell, if nothing else, it would be a good hobby for you to try out. I know you have been looking for a new one." Smooth.


"OK," came her response as my heart quickened. "Let's do that when we get back home. Teach me how to DX."

It was amazing to see the thrill of the chase of DX through her eyes. To see the excitement of that first catch, the thrill of putting the first non-US station in the log. The first time being surprised at just how far away that radio station is you are hearing.

TESTING THE WATERS

A few days later, in my ham shack, we sat down to listen to one of the recordings I made in New Orleans on my SDR. I taught her some of the basics, I let her put on the headphones to try to see if she could decipher what she was hearing from weaker stations.


"What did you think" I asked after our listening session. "Can you see yourself doing more of that?"


"Definitely, I want to learn more," she replied.


Then, a night or two later,I fired up my ICOM R-72 receiver and strung up an improvised longwire antenna hung into our stairwell. We sat down and my wife logged her first AM radio station. By the end of the night, 15 stations were in her log. I taught her about Sunset skip, about nighttime power downs and antenna pattern changes. I taught her about clear channels, about how to read the NRC AM Log and how to listen for the telltale sounds of Cuba's Radio Reloj.


It was amazing to see the thrill of the chase of DX through her eyes. To see the excitement of that first catch, the thrill of putting the first non-US station in the log. The first time being surprised at just how far away that radio station is you are hearing.


Each frequency, I would play a game.


"Look at the NRC Log, and tell me which station you think you are hearing based on the format, how loud they are, where the stations are located, their power, etc."


"Let's see, 760 khz, that's probably this station down in Florida," she said. Convinced that AM was largely localized since most of her logged stations to that point were in the Southeast."


When WJR-Detroit, MI did their full, legal ID at the top-of-the-hour, there was genuine surprise and excitement in her voice.


"Detroit? Michigan? Really?! Wow!"


PASSING IT ON

This is what we need more of. We need more people to feel the thrill of their first AM DX catch. Heck, even us seasoned DXers would do well to feel that tingle in our bellies from our DXploits.


I still get excited and jump around in the shack when I snatch a new country or state. When I recently logged Venezuela for the first time, the "WHOOOOOOO!" was likely heard blocks away.


This is all part of what inspired me to start this site. To provide the knowledge, the skills, the expertise of the art of DX to a new generation of DXers. The experience I have gained in the past 30 years of spinning the dials does no good for the greater DX community if it never leaves my shack.


So find someone in your daily life. Maybe a spouse, co-worker, child, family member, neighbor, fellow church goer...anyone you think may be enchanted by the thrill of the dial. Listen for clues: an interest in science or technology, maybe they like to tinker with things (those of us that like to take apart and put back together stuff are notoriously drawn to DX), maybe they have a fascination around geography or travel.


Let's pass on our love of this hobby to others so that 30 years from now, AM or FM DX won't be a distant memory of something that people "used to do."


73 my friends and best of DX,


Loyd - W4LVH

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