December 1-8, 2001
by Mika Mäkeläinen
We spent the
week around Finland's Independence day (December
6th) in Lemmenjoki, celebrating our independence
of Finnish radio stations. Once again the polar
night proved to be the perfect timing, giving us
an almost continuous flow of distant radio stations
on the mediumwave band. Our best catches this year
were from China, but we also enjoyed a pretty stable
reception of signals from the East Coast of North
|Home sweet home - for one
Honda was jampacked with radio equipment and handed
over to the State Railways for overnight transportation
from Helsinki to Kolari on Friday, November 30th.
After one beer, we were ready for bed, but especially
so anxious to get to play with the receivers, spent
a rather restless night on the train.
We arrived at around 9.30 a.m.,
but it was still dark. An hour's drive from Kolari,
the Levi mountain resort was the last outpost before
wilderness, and that's where we stocked groceries
and had the last decent meal - yes, reindeer pizza
for Mika - for a week.
We saw hardly anyone on
the road from Levi to Lemmenjoki.
Driving in pleasant wintry weather, and without
hitting the ubiquituous reindeer herds, we arrived
in Lemmenjoki well before 3 p.m. local time (1300
UTC) on Saturday December 1st, and had the antennae
sorted out and most of our gear in place before
It had already been 11
days before the departure of the previous DXpeditionists,
so finding nearly all permanent antennae functioning
well was a positive sign. Our DXpedition was the
6th of this season, and the 158th of all DXpeditions
to this location, thus the abbreviation LEM158.
Our antennae and equipment
differed only slightly from last year.
The first 24 hours
When we switched our receivers
on, not a single Transatlantic station was audible,
but there were pretty strong signals from China.
Good enough. It was already pitch-dark, and very
soon the few Asian AM stations disappeared as Europeans
invaded the band at intervals of 9 kHz, but we were
too excited to try to get any sleep.
|What's so funny?
Normally evening activity would
concentrate on scanning for random outbreaks of
Asians or the more predictable local breaks of Spanish
stations, but as there were hardly any local inserts
on Saturday, we caught nothing. Around midnight
shortwave stations from Brazil came in exceptionally
well, and we identified stations like Rádio
Congonhas (4775 kHz) and Rádio Cultura de
Campos (4955 kHz). Practically nothing on AM, so
it was a quiet night thereafter.
morning (after 0530 UTC) brought the first coveted
sounds from North America; mostly from the East
Coast. No sensational catches this morning, but
it was a good feeling.
In the afternoon we kept an extremely
close watch at Asian stations, and were happy to
hear the first stations rise above the noise at
1100 UTC. One of the most welcome catches was DXJR,
a new Philippino station on 1575 kHz, occasionally
beating even the superpower Thai station, then signing
off early. Additionally, pretty rare Chinese local
and regional stations were observed on frequencies
such as 1584 and 1431 kHz.
LEM158 became our best ever
DXpedition in terms of logging new Chinese AM stations.
Chinese language was heard virtually every afternoon
around 1200-1300 UTC on many frequencies, but Friday
December 7th was a field day beyond our wildest expectations.
Chinese stations ruled the band from their appearance
at 1020 UTC all the way until around 1600 UTC.
|Loads of Chinese on the dial,
especially intrigued by the many local dialects
heard aside from standard Chinese and Cantonese.
Station identifications heard in these strange minority
languages (on frequencies such as 1584, 1512 and
1368 kHz) are giving us a hard time, so if you know
any sinologists, help on resolving some mystery
announcements would be most welcome.
the most fascinating catches identified so far include
Haixia zhi Sheng on 666 kHz and Nei Monggol PBS
on 1152 kHz. After a semi-local Latvian station
had recently vacated the frequency of 1350 kHz,
we had a constant watch on this frequency, and were
pretty successful in emptying it of Chinese and
some other Asian stations as well.
Otherwise Asian signals
were relatively weak and few. The conditions didn't
favor Japan, the Koreas, the Philippines - and not
even Thailand, India or Iran, as often associated
with below-average conditions. Despite keeping an
eye on the X-band, we didn't hear any AM stations
from the general direction of Australia, and not
even the usual indicator RRI Jakarta on 999 kHz
Stuck on the East
DX, it became our second major effort to find new
stations from the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada.
Conditions toward North America repeated the same
pattern almost every day, with East Coast stations
best audible at daybreak around 0700-0900 UTC, and
disappering soon thereafter. A few dominant stations
from the Great Lakes region were audible already
at nighttime on most nights, but nothing of interest
for the first few days, stations were heard almost
exclusively East of the Appalachians and from around
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. This narrow scope was
very welcome, as it kept many Midwest dominants
comfortably at bay. The East Coast came best on
Monday, December 3rd, when we were able to identify
a number of stations previously unheard by us, such
as 790 CFAN, 830 WCRN, 900 CKDH, 1160 WMVI, 1230
WMOU, 1570 WBUG, 1580 WEAM and 1600 WKWF.
the week also Midwest stations became audible, and
on Thursday, December 6th, we had our first afternoon
opening from the West Coast. KVRI Blaine WA (1600
kHz), with a rare format of chanting and Indian
movie melodies, was logged for the first time in
Finland. This station is likely to become one of
the dominant stations on the frequency.
The X-band was under special
scrutiny, but all stations identified had been heard
in Finland already before.
Tame Latin performance
no abundance of South nor Central American stations.
Nighttime reception was much below average, and
a couple of Brazilians on shortwave was just about
all worth mentioning.
In the morning
hours a few Cubans were identified among East Coast
stations, but aside from that, Jim's catch of WRSJ
Bayamon PR (1560 kHz) and Mika's catch of Radio
Tricolor, Guayaquil (1250 kHz), both on Friday,
December 7th, were among the few highlights.
Midwinter in Finland is
unique, because it offers the once-in-a-year chance
to hear Latin American stations on shortwave as
they begin their broadcast day. Taking advantage
of this, we managed to pick up Radio Imperio, Chiclayo
(4389 kHz), Radio Buenas Nuevas, San Sebastián
(4799.8 kHz) and Radio Casino, Limón (5953.9
European equivalents to graveyard channels are the
frequencies of 1602, 1584 and 1485 kHz. Unfortunately,
as usually is the case in Lapland, 1602 kHz was
completely destroyed by Radio Egerszeg's poor modulation
and 1584 kHz was dominated by Iran, so no new catches
the remaining local Belgian stations, but otherwise
we didn't get much anything from Europe. It was
disappointing that GTRK Mordoviya, Saransk, had
moved from 1062 kHz to 1080 kHz, destroying a channel
which used to be very good for Asian DXing.
We kept a close watch on
Spanish local breaks, but as usually, reception
conditions favored the northwestern corner of the
country, meaning a meager haul of new stations.
Solar activity was very stable
the entire week, so it didn't come as a surprise
that African AM stations didn't show up. Solar flux
started at 226, hit a high of 245 on Monday, December
3rd and returned back to 226 by the end of the week.
A-index varied in the range of 3-10, solar activity
was low to moderate and the geomagnetic field was
quiet to unsettled every day. Beautiful northern
lights (aurora borealis) were visible on one evening.
|No sleep for some time?
it was a pretty normal week in Lemmenjoki. Temperatures
varied from -2 to -20 degrees Celsius, so wandering
in the forest checking the antennae wasn't an overly
tired - after an average dose of five hours of sleep
per night - we packed our gear after midday local
time on Saturday, December 8th. Our successors,
Per-Ole Stenman and Mikael Dalkarl, arrived before
our departure, and we had time to share our experiences
of the past week. U.S. stations were audible pretty
well when we had to leave, so prospects were better
than a week before. Initial results from the LEM159
DXpedition indicate that they were able to hear
many of the same stations as we.
All in all, the results
were average, if compared to all the DXpeditions
we have had in Lapland, but above average if compared
to other DXpeditions of this past fall. For details
on our identified stations, here's the LEM158
DXpedition log. For some logging guidelines,
check out notes on the log.
Be sure to check the log again in the future, since
many more stations are added all the time as we
get to review our recordings. Mika alone has over
150 hours of audio to check, so the post-game show
of this DXpedition will last well into the spring!
Jim's recording strategy was much more conservative,
because he is heading back to Lemmenjoki already
in February 2002.
Written on December
19th 2001, last edited on December 26th 2001