Introduction to Broadcast Band DXing
(adapted from an article by Carl Dabelstein, K0SBV)
What is DXing?
"DXing" is the hobby of listening to distant or difficult to hear radio stations. "DXers" have been around since there has been this thing called radio! We believe the term "DX" originated with the abbreviation used by telegraphers to mean "distant transmission".
Broadcasting's early years
Broadcast Band (BCB) DXing had its beginning in 1920 when station KDKA, East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and WBZ, Springfield, Massachusetts signed on the air as two of America's pioneer broadcasters. Soon a host of other stations sprung up around the country. In 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) began network operations, followed by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927.
The first DXers
In those early days of broadcasting the equipment used by listeners was usually home-built. Galena crystals, honeycomb coils and long outdoor antennas brought radio into the nation's living rooms. Radio stations were interested in knowing the range and quality of their signals, and they often requested information from their listeners regarding reception. As an acknowledgement of these reception reports, many stations mailed cards and letters to listeners verifying the accuracy of their reports. Listeners began to collect these verifications and to maintain logs of the different stations they heard. Thus the hobby of Broadcast Band DXing began to grow!
Clubs helped listeners share
As interest in the hobby grew, listeners organized DX clubs to exchange information between each other.The clubs published bulletins in which they discussed receiving equipment, antennas, station operating schedules and other topics of interest. Radio stations themselves often contributed articles and other information for these publications.
Our hobby today
Today, many years later, Broadcast Band DXing is still a rewarding pastime. Engineers, professors, businessmen and students enjoy this fascinating hobby. Just as there have been many technological advances in the field of broadcasting, similar strides have been taken in Broadcast Band DXing. DXers and broadcasters have learned much about the medium since those early days. Many hobby listeners use very sensitive communications receivers, highly directional antennas and tape recorders in listening to distant or difficult to hear radio stations. Many also enjoy collecting verification cards and letters (sometimes called "QSLs" - another Ham Radio term) to confirm their reception of the stations they tune in. Verification cards and letters are just as important to DXers today as they were in those early days of radio! Serious DXers send carefully prepared reports of reception and enclose return postage when requesting a verification.
DX clubs still unite listeners
DX clubs are still an integral part of the hobby. Club bulletins today continue the same type of information as those of early days, but in addition there are articles about new technical developments of the hobby, lists of regularly scheduled frequency checks and/or DX tests, propagation forecasts and lists of foreign Broadcast Band DX stations recently heard. The International Radio Club of America (IRCA) and the National Radio Club (NRC) are the two premier Broadcast Band clubs in the United States.
The IRCA was formed in Denver, Colorado in 1964. Its bulletin, DX Monitor, is published in "soft" format 35 times a year and in printed form 21 times a year. IRCA also publishes a variety of other books and pamphlets on subjects ranging from radio propagation on the Broadcast Band to lists of stations on the air from Mexico. The NRC was founded in York, Pennsylvania in 1933. It publishes DX News and provides many of the same services as the IRCA.
This was a brief introduction to the hobby of Broadcast Band (BCB) DXing. We hope it will enhance your understanding of the DXing hobby!
Info for New and Returning DXers
Click here to download a list of AM stations that can be received at a given locale - by DXer James L. Dean