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Venezulean MW Log


By Don Moore


Most DXing time in my recent trip to Venezuela (12/94-1/95) was spent tuning the MW band. Equipment used was an unmodified Sony ICF-2010, a 1978 Radio West 15 inch ferrite loop, Yaesu YH-77 headphones, a Radio Shack CTR-69 cassette recorder, and the usual assortment of cables, connectors, WRTH, references, etc. In the logs below, to savespace, only the actual date, not the month, of the log is given. For example, 7 0130-0145 would be January 7 at 0130 UTC. In many loggings transcribed station IDs are given. Where a frequency does not contain a hyphen, it is pronounced the long way. For example, 1130 is mil cientos trienta. If there is a hyphen, then each number is said as written, for example 11-30 is once trienta. Loggings were made in the following cities:

Merida: Dec 27 1994 - Jan 6 1995.
Valera: Jan 7 - Jan 8 1995.
San Cristobal: Jan 9 - Jan 11 AM 1995.
El Vigia: Jan 11 2000 to Jan 12 1600 1995.
Merida: Jan 12 1600 to Jan 14 1995.

My wife and daughter were with me during the first ten days, so DXing was not as intensive during this period. Unfortunately, that was also the best DXing location as we stayed in a cheap little posada in a suburban upper-class neighborhood with underground powerlines, no less! It was a very quiet location. After Theresa and Rebecca left, I visited the other cities. My hotel rooms in downtown Valera and San Cristobal and on the outskirts of El Vigia all suffered from some noise, although never very strong and always easily nulled with the loop. On my return to Merida, our original posada was full, so I ended up at the owner's sister's one in downtown Merida. Remarkably, it was almost noise-free.

Daytime DXing was very poor and many stations that I thought would be easy daytime catches were either not heard at all or as QRM-filled nighttime catches. Ten kW stations 100 to 150 miles away with clear channels were often not to be heard, even on lower frequencies. I wonder if this might have been due to either the sharply mountainous topography or poor ground conductivity. There was no static problem as this was the beginning of the dry season. Daytime MW reception is never as good in the tropics are farther north, but I am familiar with this phenomen from three years MW DXing in Honduras, and I don't think that accounted for the poor daytime reception in the Venezuelan Andes. One exception is that stations from the north end of Lake Maracaibo were received very well during the daytime, presumedly boosted by the lake.

The most logged country was Colombia, with 129 identified stations, plus a further 18 network IDed stations where the location is uncertain and 4 unidentifed Colombian stations. Venezuela was second with 82 stations plus one identified but unlisted station where the location is not known. Other countries logged were Puerto Rico (4 stations), Cuba (3), Montserrat, Panama, & St. Kitts/Nevis (2 each), and Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St. Vincent, Turks & Caicos, USA, and US Virgin Islands (1 each). Also, one tentative logging of San Andres island. This is a total of 19 or 20 countries and around 250 stations, depending on how one counts the Colombian network stations where a specific location is not known.

I had expected to hear some more distant such as more US stations, some of the stronger Mexicans, some deeper South American stations, and maybe even some trans-atlantics. However, there has been a real increase in 24 hour operation by Colombian and Venezuelan stations. It is all but impossible to find a frequency, even in the middle of the night, which is not occupied by a strong HJ or YV signal, and often more than one. While that does not mean that hearing further DX isn't possible, it is much harder. By contrast, when I lived in Honduras in the early 1980s, there were fewer than a dozen 24 hour stations in all of Central America. After midnight the band was filled with more distant stations not audible earlier in the evening.

The Colombians were a special difficulty because of the proliferation of network programming. In fact, it is sad to see just how many local stations have been turned into relays of national stations from Bogota for most of the day, with their historical station name dropped in place of a generic network ID. Indeed, most of the time the only ID heard is an "RCN" or "CARACOL" or "Antena Dos". When there is more than one listed network affiliate, it is impossible to tell just who the station is. On the other hand, these stations do carry some local programming with local IDs. For example, note the loggings for Antena Dos Sogamoso on 1200 and RCN San Gil on 1220. Sometimes the local IDs even include the local call letters, as with RCN Guajira on 970. But overall, DXing Colombia on medium wave is difficult with so much network programming.

In Latin America, radio is everywhere - in buses, taxis, stores, and the market. But after several days in Merida I realized that I had yet to hear any English language pop or rock. In my past Latin American travels, English language pop music radio was very common. In most sizable cities there would be one or more radio stations that played all or almost all English language pop/rock. In some places, it seemed to be the most popular form of radio, at least as played in public places. But in Merida, I heard lots of troopical music and some Spanish pop. I thought this was especially odd considering that Merida is the location of Venezuela's second largest university. The same pattern held true in other cities I visited as well.

I discussed this with several program directors, managers, and announcers at the stations I visited. They told me that interest in English language pop music began declining rapidly about six or seven years ago. Two stations I visited, Radio 1560 in Merida and Radio San Cristobal, had previously been all or almost all English pop. Today Radio 1560 is mostly tropical and Radio San Cristobal plays mostly Spanish pop with some English thrown in at particular times of the day. I was told of other AM and FM stations that had dropped the all or almost-all English pop format. No one I talked to knew of a station playing more than about half English pop, and even those 50/50 mixes were only at certain times of the day. The change in tastes was also evident in music stores. In my previous trips, English language artists were usually given the most prominent places in display windows. Now, English language pop was rarely seen in window displays. On to the loggings...

Loggings 530 - 990 kHz.

Loggings 1000 - 1615 kHz.


This article is copyright 1995 by Don Moore. It may not be printed in any publication without written permission. Permission is granted for all interested readers to share and pass on the ASCII text file of this article or to print it out for personal use. In such case, your comments on the article would be appreciated.

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DXer of the Year for 1995

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