top of page

What is DX?

To put it simply, DX is a shorthand way of communicating "distant."  The term started in the radio telegraph industry and, like many of the terms used by telegraphers, made its way into radio with the dawn of the radio age.

As long as there has been radio, there have been people trying to use it to hear stations from as far away as they could.  Remember, radio began in the early 20th century, when there was no internet and no television. So the idea of hearing signals from far away from where you lived was a magical concept.  You could travel the country or even the world without leaving your home!  So, people would flock to their radios, slowly tuning their dials listening through the static for sounds from remote cities or even countries!


In return, broadcasting stations were only too eager to know how far their signal was being heard as well.  As such, they would solicit their listeners to write in to the station, providing details of the programming content they heard while listening.  In return for these "reception reports" the station would provide back a souvenir postcard or letter on station letterhead confirming the program details that had been described.

These verifications became known as QSL cards, derived from Q-codes (again, originally instituted by the telegraph industry).  QSL translates to "I confirm receipt of your transmission".  So, for a DXer, receiving a QSL card from a radio station was confirmation that you did in fact hear that station. 

In the 1920s and 1930s, collecting these verifications was highly popular, and great pride would be held by the listener who held verifications from the most distant stations.


With that basic premise, the hobby of DXing was born.  All you needed was a radio and a desire to tune in "whatever is out there."

Today, the term DXing applies to numerous aspects of the radio hobby including AM/FM DX, shortwave radio, TV DX, amateur radio, longwave, military communications, aircraft communications, ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications,...basically any time a radio wave is generated you can bet there is someone out there trying to DX it!

For the purposes of this Web site, we are narrowing our focus solely on AM/FM DX, but many of the principles and skills you will learn here can translate to other forms of DX.  As a DXer gains experience and enthusiasm for the hobby, it is completely natural for them to want to branch out and try DXing other things.  This site can help provide you the fundamentals to be more successful in that endeavor!

But why start with focusing on AM and FM DX?



Armed with only a portable radio, you too can start DXing!

Just like those early DXers from the 1920s, many DXers today get their start with AM or FM radio.  it usually happens casually or even by accident, for some. 


They turn on their FM radio in their vehicle and suddenly the station they are used to hearing isn't there and has been replaced by a station thousands of miles away from their home.

Or perhaps, as was the case for me personally, they are simply tuning their bedside clock radio, trying to find a ball game when all of the sudden, they are presented with the voice of someone in an entirely different part of the country.

"You're listening to St. Louis Blues hockey on 1120, KMOX."

Now, I grew up in a radio family full of DXers.  My parents were both writers for the now defunct Monitoring Times magazine, the premiere magazine for radio hobbyists during its run from the early 1980s until the mid 2010s.  So, the concept of DX was not a foreign one for me.  I had already spent time behind the dials on my parents' shortwave radio, tuning in the sounds of BBC in London, Radio China, Deutsche Welle in Germany and many other international broadcasts.  

There was just something about hearing St. Louis, Missouri from my bedside clock radio though, that sparked a revelation in my mind.  

I have spent the past nearly 30 years chasing down DX on the AM and FM bands ever since that February 25, 1993 evening.   While I have also moved into amateur radio DX in that time, I always return to my first love and the most pure form of DX I have found:  AM and FM.


While technology has changed and advanced, AM and FM DX can still be done very cheaply and very simply!

It is the form of DX with the least barrier to entry.  You don't have to have a fancy or expensive radio or antenna to get started.  You don't have to have special technical knowledge to get started (though, it is helpful once you gain experience to have some additional knowledge, which is why this site exists!)

There are also DXers that enjoy listening purely for the content and not even the chase of distant stations.  They want to just have a window into a world that normally would be invisible to them.  Traffic reports from far away cities, local advertisements for businesses they have never seen, weather forecasts that are completely different from what they are experiencing in their home location.  For these folks, it's not about a logbook filled with DX catches, it is about the ability to travel without ever leaving home!

Many DXers fall somewhere between a casual listener and a hardcore chaser of DX.  But whatever your involvement or manner of tuning the dials, DX Central is here to help guide you in your journey and provide you the tips and tricks along the way to get the most out of DXing!

As we say in the hobby, 73 and best of DX!​

P.S.:  If you want to know what 73 and other DX-related terminology means, check out our Glossary page!

All content on this site is Copyright © 2020 by Loyd Van Horn, who is solely responsible for the content.  All Rights Reserved.  Unauthorized use or redistribution of the content of these pages in any format without express written permission is strictly prohibited .  The auithor is not responsible for any damage, financial loss, injury or death that results from activities outlined in these pages. Any and all such activities are assumed to be at your OWN RISK. It is the responsibility of the reader to know all national, state, provincial and local codes/laws pertaining to their pursuit of the activities outlined in these pages.
bottom of page