Category: Radio


DX log: 20 September 2010

As described earlier, this is the first (of hopefully many) logs I’ll post about my long distance radio reception. I don’t log stations I can normally receive in standard conditions, so everything listed here is reception of signals enhanced by the atmosphere. I won’t go into the details, but if you’re interested in the science of it, there’s an explanation here.

The log states the frequency, official callsign (seldom used on-air, but unique to each station), on-air callsign (the name the station goes by), and location of the station received. If I was really keen, I’d calculate the distances, but I already have a good idea of how far Albury and Warrnambool are, for instance, so I normally don’t bother with it.

So, this is my reception log from the night of 20/09/2010:

89.7 3JJJ (Triple J) Warrnambool VIC
90.9 7JJJ (Triple J) Launceston TAS
91.3 3PNN (ABC News Radio) Warrnambool VIC
91.7 7NT (ABC Northern Tasmania) Launceston TAS
92.1 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Warrnambool VIC
92.5 7PB (ABC News Radio) Launceston TAS
93.3 7ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Launceston TAS
94.5 3JJJ (Triple J) Shepparton VIC
95.3 3SRR (3SR FM) Shepparton VIC *
95.3 3YFM (Coast FM) Warrnambool VIC
96.1 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Shepparton VIC
96.9 3SUN (Star FM) Shepparton VIC *
97.7 3GVR (ABC Goulburn Valley) Shepparton VIC
100.1 3SPH (RPH) Shepparton VIC
101.7 3ABCRN (Radio National) Warrnambool VIC
103.3 3JJJ (Triple J) Albury NSW
104.1 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Albury NSW
104.9 2AAY (Star FM) Albury NSW
105.7 2BDR (The River) Albury NSW
106.5 3MRR (ABC Upper Murray) Albury NSW

I’ve added recordings of the stations marked with an asterisk, just click to play the file, and I’ve even included a pretty map below that shows the locations I received signals from.

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As I described in my opening post, I partake of a relatively unknown hobby called “DXing“. A DXer is someone who actively attempts to receive distant television and/or radio signals, to then log them or record them. There are a handful of people around Australia who also share this interest, varying in age and location.

I tend to focus my attention on DXing the FM radio band, with a little interest in TV reception as well. My greatest distance reception was receiving the station 89.2 “More FM” from Invercargill, a city on the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, which is approximately a distance of 2100 km from Melbourne. Not bad, considering FM radio tends to start breaking up when you’re anywhere over about 100 km from the transmitter normally. Of course, these distances aren’t normally achievable for radio reception. Only during certain openings, mainly during summer, does this occur. Shorter distance stuff is still just as interesting though, the times I’ve watched the local WIN News from Ballarat or Gippsland, or listened to weather reports from Tasmania can be just as interesting receptions as the really long-haul ones.

The really keen DXers often invest in high-quality receiving equipment involving large external antennas, signal amplifiers, radio scanners and high-quality radios, and while that works far better for receiving really exotic stuff, you’d be surprised how handy something as simple as your standard car radio can do the job too. That NZ station I referred to earlier was received on the humble little car radio in the car park at work. I’ve found that, although I do own a dedicated radio and antenna for this purpose, all the good reception seems to happen when I’m not at home and can’t use it (Murphy’s law I guess). It’s like seeing a perfect photo opportunity but not having the camera with you. It can be really frustrating, but that’s the elusive nature of the hobby.

So from time to time on here you might see me posting logs of the stations I’ve received, with some audio recordings. I’ll try and keep it brief and basic so as to not overwhelm or scare off the few readers I have here, but DX logs by nature are long lists. Maybe I’ll spice some of them up by drawing up some maps showing distances and posting them as well.

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For comparison’s sake, here is a list of all stations normally receivable here in Melbourne on even just a standard radio. I generally won’t list these stations as they are permanent reception. Bold are Melbourne-wide stations, Italic are community stations, the others are from neighbouring areas.

88.3 3SCB (Southern FM) Moorabbin VIC

88.6 3PVR (Plenty Valley FM) Yarrambat VIC

88.9 3WYN (WYN FM) Werribee VIC

89.3 (Hot Country) Geelong VIC

89.9 3TSC (Light FM) Melbourne VIC

90.3 3JJJ (Triple J) Bendigo VIC

90.7 3SYN (SYN FM) Melbourne VIC

91.1 3ABCRR (ABC Central Victoria) Bendigo VIC

91.5 3PTV (Classic Rock) Melbourne VIC

91.9 3BDG (Star FM) Bendigo VIC

92.3 3ZZZ (ZZZ FM) Melbourne VIC

92.7 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Bendigo VIC

93.1 3SBSFM (SBS Radio) Melbourne VIC

93.5 3BBO (3BO FM) Bendigo VIC

93.9 3BAY (Bay FM) Geelong VIC

94.1 3WBC (WBC FM) Box Hill VIC

94.3 3SEA (Star FM) Warragul VIC

94.5 3UGE (UGE FM) Kinglake VIC

94.7 3YYR (The Pulse) Geelong VIC

94.9 3JOY (Joy FM) Melbourne VIC

95.1 3PB (ABC News Radio) Traralgon VIC

95.5 3CAT (K-Rock) Geelong VIC

95.7 3GDR (Golden Days Radio) Caulfield VIC

96.1 3MJR (The Lion) Melbourne VIC

96.3 3GGR (Rhema FM) Geelong VIC

96.5 3INR (Inner FM) Heidelberg VIC

96.7 3JJJ (Triple J) Traralgon VIC

97.1 3MDR (Mountain District Radio) Emerald VIC

97.4 3WRB (Stereo 974) Hoppers Crossing VIC

97.7 3SER (Casey South East Radio) Fountain Gate VIC

97.9 3RIM (979 FM) Melton VIC

98.1 3ECB (Eastern FM) Ringwood VIC

98.3 3RPP-t (Radio Port Phillip translator) Frankston VIC

98.5 3APL (Apple FM) Bacchus Marsh VIC

98.7 3RPP (Radio Port Phillip) Mornington VIC

98.9 3NOW (Northwest FM) Broadmeadows VIC

99.1 3VYV (Yarra Valley FM) Woori Yallock VIC

99.3 3NRG (NRG FM) Sunbury VIC

99.5 3GPH (RPH Geelong) Geelong VIC

100.3 3MEL (Nova 100) Melbourne VIC

100.7 3CH (Central Highlands FM) Macedon VIC

100.7 3GLR (ABC Gippsland) Traralgon VIC

101.1 3TTT (Mix 101.1) Melbourne VIC

101.5 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Traralgon VIC

101.9 3FOX (Fox FM) Melbourne VIC

102.3 3RBA (3BA FM) Ballarat VIC

102.7 3RRR Melbourne VIC

103.1 3BBA (Power FM) Ballarat VIC

103.5 3MBS Melbourne VIC

103.9 3GCB (Life FM) Traralgon VIC

104.3 3KKZ (Gold 104) Melbourne VIC

105.1 3MMM (Triple M) Melbourne VIC

105.5 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Ballarat VIC

105.9 3ABCFM (ABC Classic FM) Melbourne VIC

106.3 8SAT (Flow FM) Healesville VIC

106.7 3PBS (PBS FM) Melbourne VIC

107.1 3JJJ (Triple J) Ballarat VIC

107.5 3JJJ (Triple J) Melbourne VIC

107.9 3CRR (ABC Ballarat) Ballarat VIC

There you go, bet you didn’t know there were that many stations receivable in Melbourne. And come summertime, that number only increases.

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So that’s a bit about the DX hobby. I find it quite interesting, if not for the great distances you can receive transmissions from, then just for hearing what the local stations sound like in a distant part of the country (or another). If you’re at all curious or interested in learning more, feel free to ask me about it.

Radio ratings survey 6, 2010

Yesterday saw the release of the sixth radio ratings survey of the year in the five metropolitan markets, and while largely uneventful, there’s always many conclusions to be drawn from the newly-released data.

In Melbourne, the finishing order was as follows:

1st: 3AW – 14.6% (down 0.6% from last survey)

2nd: ABC774 – 13.2% (up 0.5%)

3rd: Fox FM – 11.5% (down 1.0%)

4th: Gold 104 – 7.8% (up 0.5%)

Eq. 5th: Magic 1278 – 6.8% (down 0.6%)

Eq. 5th: Nova 100 – 6.8% (down 0.2%)

7th: Triple M – 6.6% (up 1.0%)

8th: SEN1116 – 5.4% (up 0.2%)

9th: Mix 101.1 – 4.9% (up 0.2%)

Eq. 10th: Classic Rock 91.5 – 3.4% (up 0.1%)

Eq. 10th: ABC Triple J – 3.4% (down 0.2%)

12th: ABC Classic FM – 2.9% (up 0.3%)

13th: ABC Radio National – 2.6% (up 0.5%)

14th: ABC News Radio – 1.5% (down 0.1%)

15th: MTR 1377 – 1.1% (down 0.2%)

Probably the biggest story, and disappointment (depending on which side of the fence you’re on), is last place. MTR 1377 has been broadcasting for a number of months now, and has not only shed more than half the audience of its predecessor 3MP straight into the arms of its main rival Fairfax’s music station Magic 1278, but seems to still be on a steady decline towards zero ratings. Despite paying considerable dough to secure key signings such as Steve Price, Jason Akermanis, Sam Newman and Andrew Bolt, all shifts across weekdays and weekends dropped share on the last survey. Drivetime and evenings are both hovering below 1% total audience share, which is below even the 24 hour news station ABC News Radio, and more likely on par with community radio.

So what’s wrong with MTR? Is the dodgy signal from the poorly located transmitter causing people to tune out? Convenient answer, but seeing as 3MP used the same transmitter for 34 years before MTR came along, with far greater ratings success, it seems unlikely to be the sole problem. Is the lack of promotion a problem? Perhaps, but seeing as Jason Akermanis has been in the news all year, and was sacked by the Bulldogs because of his new position at MTR, you’d think they’ve got more free publicity than they could have dreamed of. So, you start to narrow the issues down to the program content. Blatant right-wing talkback designed to be offensive and controversial in order to engage, or is that enrage, just like what the owners, Macquarie Radio Network, do on 2GB in Sydney.

Ding! We have a winner! The reason why MTR is failing badly is because Macquarie are trying to force a Sydney-based product down the throats of Melburnians. If there’s one thing Melburnians hate, it’s being told what to do by those pushy bastards north of the border. Play this code of football, drink this type of beer, listen to this kind of radio. It’s driven media organisations to ruins in the past, yet it seems even now those New South Wailers still think if they tell us Mexicans to jump that we will. Melbourne is, and always has been, fiercely patriotic and proud of its independence from Sydney, and will take a very long time to warm to anything that reeks of being too Sydney-centric.

Apart from MTR’s dismal failure, another failure, though not quite to the extreme lows of MTR, is that of DMG radio’s two Melbourne stations: Nova 100 and Classic Rock 91.5. Nova 100 started out in the early 2000s with the slogan “sounds different” – they burst on to the scene with a sound that was a bit more out there, a bit edgier than their main competitor Fox FM. And it worked well, initially, with Nova enjoying ratings success in a relatively short time. However, the gloss has more than worn off Nova. The sound now is most certainly no different to that of Fox, but doesn’t have the massive ratings of the Hamish and Andy show, or Matt and Jo to propel its key drive and breakfast slots. While equal fifth place in the second largest radio market in Australia is still a worthy achievement, it now lags severely behind Fox FM in every key aspect of its performance. And without something worthy of making people turn off Fox and come to Nova, a slow but steady fade into obscurity is all but assured for the station that was once DMG’s pride and joy.

The other issue is Classic Rock. Unlike Nova, DMG have never had any success with their secondary stations in Sydney and Melbourne, after launching them as Vega in the mid-2000s. Vega debuted as an adult music/talk station, but after early ratings flops ditched the talk for an “old and new” type music format. That still failed to register anything significant, so in early 2010, DMG dumped the Vega brand entirely, and all the new music, and relaunched their station as “Classic Rock”, with a music format of, you guessed it, rock music from primarily the 70s and 80s. However, even this seemingly radical change has failed to generate any interest in the station, even after nearly six months of operation.

Classic Rock is an interesting case. Apart from being a bit too centred on a few core artists, the music variety is widely regarded as being quite good. However, with competition from a dedicated (and recommitted) rock station in Triple M, and a pseudo-classic rock station in Gold 104, the market for old rock songs seems already quite heavily saturated. Add to the fact that while Gold 104 and Triple M have announcers from early morning until late night, Classic Rock has been a victim of its own failure, and as such is announcer-free all day except for a small window at breakfast. This leaves Classic Rock playing nothing but old rock songs, pre-recorded promos, and ads. Quite a repetitive and boring sound after you listen for a while – it sounds like the whole place is on automation (which is largely true, except for hourly news, peak-hour traffic updates and the aforementioned breakfast “show”). So people who like classic rock tend to have two choices – listen to someone else play their iPod playlist on the radio with a handful of repeated jingles and ads every few minutes, or play their own iPod playlist and forget the radio altogether. It would seem that those who would listen to Classic Rock have either stayed on Triple M or Gold, or just hit play on the iPod.

So, that’s my criticisms out of the way. As for summing up Melbourne’s radio ratings this time around; the grey brigade are still keeping 3AW on top (52% of over-55s in Melbourne listen to 3AW, amazing figures). 774 continue to embarrass most commercial stations. Fox still holds a comfortable gap on Nova despite a drop. Gold still dominates the older music market, but Triple M looks resurgent with Eddie McGuire making big gains at breakfast. Magic is still enjoying having no easy listening competition from 3MP any more. Mix 101.1 is steadily creeping up with its edgier music format, and SEN will be raking it in during the footy finals, which hopefully pays the bills for sister station MTR for the time being. There, I could have just said that and not bothered with the rest. But what fun would that have been for me…