Hello LPFM, Goodbye DX

     13 licenses have been granted to new low power FM stations in the Seattle area. Happy to see that the FCC is allowing LPFM to become a reality.

     The bad news? Almost all the frequency assignments have high power FM stations that are presently using those frequencies and have a signal that is usable here in Seattle, most are Canadian, one is a station in Wenatchee. These stations happen to be my favorite radio stations to listen to in the car. Won’t be for long. Not a happy camper.

    The side effect is that these low power FM stations will be very limited in range even if you own a good receiver and antenna because of the existence of high power stations on the same frequencies.

     My take on this is that it was the FCCs way of giving these new LPFM stations a back-handed bitch slap.  They knew the public and congress overwhelmingly support LPFM, so they couldn’t deny it outright, so instead they chose to assign it to already populated frequencies to minimize the reach of low power FM stations and maximize the interference they will cause to traditional broadcasters.  This is an old tactic for getting people to agree to what you want, create a reason for them to want it, which is to say no LPFM because it’s not usable or because it interferes with something you want to use.  This will of course get the NAB up in arms and cause them to ramp up their opposition to LPFM.

     I can’t say there is much of anything the FCC does that I agree with. In particular, the choice of digital systems here in the United States destroys two adjacent channels, so now one high power commercial station essentially occupies three frequencies. If they had gone with Radio Mondale instead of this horrid IBOC they chose to use here in the states, we wouldn’t have destroyed the two adjacent channels with digital hash and those would then be usable frequencies, the audio quality would have been better and the usability in low signal areas would have been better.

     Fortunately, most stations are online now and can be listened to from anywhere but not the case for the car until some form of affordable mobile Internet becomes available.

Pirate Radio

I suspect Mojo Nixon came out with this long after my pirate radio station was dead and gone, none the less it expresses my sentiments about commercial radio and the F.C.C. rather well.

Censorship

I’ve always been opposed to censorship, even when I find the ideas being censored unappealing.  I think it’s a slippery slope that leads to a complete lack of novel ideas needed to move society forward.

I also think a lot of otherwise good music is ruined because lyrics contained a word or idea someone didn’t like.

One thing I liked about KISW before Iheart Radio ruined them is that they used to not censor.  They’d play a song as it was written, damn the FCC fines, but no more.

On that note; here is a nice extrapolation of censorship taken to the logical end.

 

Pirate Radio 107.3 FM North Seattle

Picked up a pirate radio station operating on 107.3 FM.  It was strongest near 145th St. and Aurora Ave N.  Barely receivable at 175th and Aurora and all but gone by 185th.  They would have gone farther if they had picked a vacant frequency but 107.3 is already occupied by two distant commercial stations.

The first clue that it wasn’t a commercial station was the ultra horrid audio, just slightly better than telephone quality but not much below 300Hz or above about 5Khz.  Modulation pretty random, obviously no compressor or limiter, and about every third word was an F-bomb.

I really hate to see pirate radio done this way, poor quality and just pretty much there to offend with absolutely no sense of responsibility.

87.7 FM DX

At about 11:45 yesterday (June 2nd 2014) I received a Spanish speaking station on 87.7FM.  This did sound like E-skip, lots of fading, and it lasted about fifteen minutes on and off, it faded in and out over that time frame.  There was Spanish speaking talking and what sounded like Mexican music.  Unfortunately, did not get a station ID, not sure if I would have recognized the letters in Spanish anyway.

Mystery of 87.9 Mhz – Solved!

I think I’ve finally solved the mystery of these short periods of reception on 87.9 Mhz which lack the normal selective fading of some form of skip or the slow fading of ducting.

The clue was that while I was stopped at a light, all of the sudden the Howard Stern show came on.  Howard Stern isn’t broadcast terrestrially anymore but does have a satellite radio show on SiriusXM satellite radio.

It occurred to me that what I might be receiving on 87.9 Mhz is peoples SiriusXM radio converters.  That explains the usual short duration of the reception (they drive away).

Doing some research, I found that indeed the converters are tunable across the entire FM band but 87.9 Mhz, owing to it being clear across most of the country, is the most widely chosen channel.

I also found out there had been F.C.C. actions with regard to these SiriusXM converters being over-powered and causing interference to legitimate stations.  So it all fits, not real DX but bleed from satellite down converters.

More Weirdness on 87.9 Mhz – What Is Going On?

Today I received three different stations on 87.9 Mhz at three different times.

Around 11am, I went to the Post Office and then headed towards Fred Meyers.  I was on 175th Street just East of Aurora Ave N, and just stopped at the light.

A station faded in out of nothing, complete quieting, and it was playing a musical song with Japanese lyrics.  It lasted about a minute and a half.

Then later, around 3pm, I took my wife to get her check and head to the bank and on the way to the bank, again on 175th, another station came in, this time playing RAP in English.  But this time it only lasted about five seconds.

Then when we were stopped at a light on 164th Street leaving Walmart, around 6pm, a Spanish speaking station with Mexican music came in.  This one lasted about 30 seconds.

I’ve been interested in DX reception for many decades and I’ve never experienced propagation like this.  I have received TV DX over great distances like this but they usually lasted longer than these relatively brief periods of reception and involved a lot more fade and the video and audio were often distorted significantly by selective fading and multipath.

I’ve also received brief burps of signal, probably meteor trails, but those were much shorter than these events.

I’m convinced there is something new and different going on and I’m not even sure if it’s in the atmosphere.  Either there has to be some very brief ducting or multi-hop skip, because the distances involved are two great for a single hop which is limited to about 100 miles, but the characteristics are not like skip I’ve received in the past.

These are fade in fairly rapidly (going from no signal to solid full quieting in 1-2 seconds), remain complete solid during the time the signal is receivable which has been between about a second and maybe five minutes, and then fade out just as quickly and don’t come back.  There is no audible distortion or multipath distortion.

So I’m wondering if our atmosphere is acting differently because of altered chemistry?  Or perhaps something HAARP is doing?  Or maybe there is something providing a large artificial reflective surface such as an unacknowledged black project vehicle or maybe an alien craft?

There is definitely something different going on.  I’ve monitored these frequencies for many years and never received anything until just recently and now it’s almost daily.

87.9 Mhz Another Short Reception

While sitting at a light on Aurora and about 165th, I briefly received a signal, it came in and was gone in about two seconds.  It was some kind of music that sounded like something I might hear on a Chinese film, something traditional, not modern, no vocals.

Seems odd that these short bursts keep coming in on this frequency, I’ve monitored quite a number of other locally unused frequencies and haven’t heard anything similar and most of them are far more occupied nationally.