I was nattering away with Tim Bucknall in the chat room the other day. We were reminiscing about old times and all those wonderful DX trips we had, visiting places like North Wales, Cornwall, the Derbyshire Peak District and the Staffordhire Moorlands, always in search of something different in the way of DX. Happy memories! Then we spoke about Suffolk. In particular, we were wondering if it would be possible to receive Corsica there. Then I remembered that we had already achieved something far greater than that in Suffolk. Something we had almost forgotten about. Sardinia! But there was one slight problem. We couldn't prove it.
I thought that this was already documented in SkywavesDX, but on checking, I see that it isn't, unless I haven't searched correctly. So I thought it would be an opportune moment to document it here. I'll also add it it to my blog in due course.
The best thing about this mystery reception at Suffolk, Aldeburgh and Sizewell Cliffs, to be precise, was that it didn't seem to tie in with any tropo and was always received around the middle of the day or early afternoon and with fluttery scatter-like signals. This didn't sound like tropo at all.
Reception was understandably very weak and signals came up out of the noise only occasionally and not even every day we were at the coast. They would be quite clear for about 30 seconds, then disappear back into the noise. They were never completely noise free.
It was always the same three frequencies too. 88.8, 95.3 and 96.5. It's such a long time ago now that I forget the exact programme content, but we always heard Italian voices. We often spoke about these mystery stations and never knew where the Italian signals could be coming from, never really daring to speculate that they could be from Sardinia. They were probably logged tentatively somewhere and may be documented on the SkywavesDX Yahoo group. Again, my own searching has revealed nothing. Maybe nothing was logged, not even tentatively as I wouldn't have had any idea who I was receiving. (Update: After checking through his own notes, Tim found 13/07/2002 to be one of those dates.) So why the uncertainty? These were pre-FM List days and reliable frequency/transmitter information was often difficult to come by. This reception took place across the late 90s and early 00s. We didn't make detailed loggings of these as we probably assumed they must be something rather more mundane than Sardinia. It wasn't until I took a holiday to Palafrugell in Catalunya in 2005 that I had an inkling of what we may have, and dare I say 'probably' received.
It was a family holiday and I managed to escape for a couple of hours late one evening to do some DXing in the hills. I found a local high spot called Mont Ras, just outside the town. It was a small hill, rather than a mountain, but it provided good reception of all the local stations from in and around the area. I managed to find this bandscan on the Skywaves Yahoo Group archive, posted on 06/06/2005. This is a copy of that report.
Palafrugell (CAT) Bandscan July 30th & 31st, 2005.
87.6 Catalunya Cultura, Comprodon CCULTURA
87.8 Catalunya Musica, Calonge-Castell d'Aro CATMUSIC
87.8 Xtra FM, Sant Feliu De Guixols _XTRAFM_
88.1 Cadena 40, Rocacorba 40P_____
88.4 R RM, UNID site RADIORM_
88.6 UNID, semi-local station with no RDS. All talk
88.6 IB3 R, Monte Toro-Alaior, Balearic Islands IB3RADIO
88.7 R RM, Collserola. Tropo? RADIORM_
88.9 Catalunya Cultura, Rocacorba CCULTURA
89.1 R Marca Barcelona, Collserola _MARCA__
89.2 RFM Provence, Marseille / Grande Etiole (13) __RFM___
89.4 Cadena COPE Girona, Rocacorba __COPE__ _GIRONA_
89.6 R Dialogue, Marseille (13) DIALOGUE
89.9 Onda Rambla Girona, Girona __ONDA__ _RAMBLA_ _RADIO__ _PUNTO__ A_GIRONA _89.9_FM
90.1 Onda Rambla Girona, UNID site __ONDA__ _RAMBLA_ _RADIO__ _PUNTO__ A_GIRONA _89.9_FM
90.4 Onda Cero R, UNID site ONDACERO
90.8 UNID. R Vila? 50 watts from Viladecaballs near Terrassa
91.1 RNE Clasica, Rocacorba RNE-CLAS
91.4 RAC 105 FM, Castell d'Aro RAC105__
91.6 RTV Activitat, Santa Coloma De Farnes
91.9 RAC 105, Banyoles RAC105__
92.1 France Inter, UNID site __INTER_
92.2 France Musiques, Nice / Mont Chauve (06) MUSIQUES
92.3 R Star, Marseille / Petit Sanguin (13) 4kW
92.5 Catalunya R, Calonge-Castell d'Aro CATRADIO
92.7 Frequence Girona, Girona COMRADIO
92.9 Catalunya R, Palafrugell CATRADIO
93.3 RNE-1 Catalunya, Rocacorba RNE_1___
93.6 R Capital, UNID site. Thought this was Spanish but unsure CAPITAL_
93.8 France Culture? Nothing listed
94.0 RNE R Cinco, UNID site RNE_5___
94.1 Catalunya Informacio, Calonge-Castell d'Aro CATINFO_
94.4 SER Girona FM, Girona __SER___
94.7 Catalunya R, UNID site
94.7 Alcudia R, Son Sant Marti, Balearic Islands
94.8 UNID French classical station, not France Musique
94.9 France Musique, Toulon / Cap Sicie (83)
95.1 Ona R Girona, Rocacorba __ONA___ CATALANA _GIRONA_ _95.1_FM
95.3 RAI-2, Monte Limbara, Sardinia! RADIO2__
95.4 R Maria, UNID site R.MARIA_
95.6 R Club 25 FM, Barcelona CLUB25FM
95.9 RNE-3, Rocacorba RNE_3___
96.3 R Costa Brava, Palamos RCBRAVA_ _96.3_FM __ONA___ _MUSICA_
96.5` France Culture, Carcasonne / Pic De Nore (11) `
96.5 UNID Italian station playing club music 00:15 GMT 31/05
96.7 Catalunya Musica, Rocacorba CATMUSIC_
97.0 Catalunya Cultura, Palafrugell CCULTURA
97.2 UNID classical, think France Musique, Perpignan / Pic De Neoulous (66)
97.4 UNID local station, no RDS. R Sant Gregori?
97.7 R Begur La Sintonia, Begur R,BEGUR_ ___LA___ SINTONIA DEL_MAR_
97.9 Catalunya Informacio, UNID site
98.1 Ona Catalana R Olot, Olot RADIOLOT __ONA___ CATALANA
98.2 RNE-4, UNID site RADIO_4_
98.5 Ona Musica Girona, Rocacorba __ONA___ _MUSICA_ _GIRONA_ _98.5_FM
98.9 Cadena Dial, UNID site --DIAL--
99.2 Catalunya Cultura, Calonge-Castell d'Aro CCULTURA
99.4 Catalunya Informacio, Macanet De Cabrenys CATINFO_
99.6 Flaix FM Girona, Girona FLAIX_FM
99.8 France Musiques, Ile d'Elbe / Monte Capanne (20)
99.9 RAC-1, UNID site RAC_1___
100.1 RAC-1, Girona RAC_1___
100.2 "???? FM" ID Spanish tropo, fading
100.4 Catalunya Musica, Palafrugell CATMUSIC
100.7 Flaixbac FM, Rocacorba FLAIXBAC
101.0 R Clasica, UNID site RNE-CLAS
101.3 R RM, Macanet De Cabrenys
101.6 France Bleu Roussillon, Pepignan / Pic De Neoulous (66)
101.7 Catalunya Informacio, Rocacorba CATINFO_
101.9 Ona Girona, Girona _GIRONA_ CATALANA 101,9_FM
102.2 Catalunya R, Rocacorba CATRADIO
102.5 RNE-1, UNID site
102.7 R Platja d'Aro, Mas Nou RPA102.7
102.8 Caytalunya Cultura, Macanet De Cabrenys
103.0 RNE-1, UNID site RNE_1___
103.2 Sud R, Sorede / Pic De Neulos (66) SUDRADIO
103.4 R Estel, Girona R-ESTEL_
103.5 RNE-1, UNID site
103.7 R Santa Cristina, Santa Cristina d'Aro RADIO___ SANTA___ CRISTINA 100X100_ _MUSICA_
103.9 UNID French
104.0 Ona Emporda, Macanet De Cabrenys
104.2 Maxima FM, Barcelona MAXIMAFM
104.3 RMC Info, Several sites possible RMC_INFO
104.4 Ona Emporda, Figueres __ONA___ CATALANA EMPORDA_ 104.4_FM
104.5 R Cinco, Alfabia perhaps in Balearic Islands
104.8 Catalunya Informacio, Palafrugell CATINFO_
105.1 R Teletaxi, UNID site TELETAXI FM_Y_OLE ALEGRIA_ 24_HORES
105.3 France Info, many sites, perhaps Marseille / Grande Etoile (13) __INFO__
105.5 Catalunya R, Macanet De Cabrenys CATRADIO
105.7 Flaix FM, Terrassa
105.7 France Info, Nice / Mont Cauve (06) perhaps or Montauban (82) ? __INFO__
105.8 R Dimensione Suono, Cagliari? *_RDS_*_
105.8 RNE-3, Monte Torro-Alaior, Balearic Islands RNE_3___
105.9 NRJ Perpignan, Perpignan (66) __NRJ___
106.1 Flaixbac FM Barcelona, Sant Feliu De Barcelona
106.2 RNE-4, Rocacorba RNE_4___
106.4 Gum FM, Lloret De Mar _GUM_FM_
106.5 Riviera R, Menton / Cap Martin (06) _RADIO__ HOT_HITS NEWS+FUN ___IN___ ENGLISH_ RIVIERA_
106.6 R Estel, Barcelona
106.8 Europa FM, Girona EUROPAFM
107.0 R Sant Feliu, Sant Feliu De`Guixols (surely more than 10 Watts?) RSF107.0
107.1 R Montgri, Torroella De Montgri
107.3 Catalunya Cultura, UNID site
107.5 R Palamos, Palamos _RADIO__ PALAMOS_ A_C_A_R_ 107,5_FM LA_RADIO AL_PUNT_
107.8 R Palafrugell, Palafrugell RADIO___ PALAFRU- GELL-24H 107.8_FM
SUMMARY: The holiday was at Palafrugell, near Girona, midway down the Costa Brava coast between Portbou and Barcelona. The lie of the land was hilly but not exceptionally so. The local high spot was the Far Sant Sebastia - a lighthouse which was about a couple of miles away but parking anywhere near it resulted in severe overload due, I suspect, to the local Palafrugell transmitters being up there, so 90% of the above log was made at the village of Mont Ras near the botanical gardens on the opposite side of the Calella de Palafrugell bay or further down the bay. The elevation was minimal but I was hoping other nearby hills slightly further inland would block out the locals.
The 30th and 31st were the only two days I heard DX throughout my two week stay. This was a family holiday so DX was not a priority - in fact I didn't expect to do any at all. Where possible I had a quick scan across FM in the early mornings and at the end of the evenings but nothing other than local Catalunya stations seemed to be audible, despite forecasts of good tropo for most of the period.
During the late evening on the 30th Linda, my wife, said she wouldn't mind if I drove up the local hills and did an hour or two of DXing, so off I
went, leaving at 20:30 GMT with nothing of any note audible on FM.
The next two hours saw a bandscan of local stations. It wasn't until about 00:00 GMT on the 31st that I spotted the first Italian signal on 105.8.
Then things lifted up pretty quickly for an hour but conditions were soon gone again after this.
The following evening saw some different stations coming in during a brief bandscan around 20:00, this time from our location near Palafrugell town.
Stations marked with "UNID sites" are either unlisted or possibly more distant sites being received via tropo.
I would appreciate any thoughts on the UNID Italian station on 96.5. I am wondering if this and RAI-2 were the two stations received in Suffolk in
2002 via tropo? This would appear to make some sense. Hmm, I feel a Suffolk DXpedition coming on. :o)
Following my post to Skywaves, Ruud Brand responded with the following:
All the French stations except Perpignan was tropo (note that 92.1 Inter and 97.2 Musiques are from Perpignan Pic de Neoulous).
The 94.8 unid F with classical music could have been Bleu Azur from Menton.
Which RX and type of aerial did you use?
Ruud (who will stay some km's to the north coming summer holiday)"
Pedro Moñino also responded:
Some help. Most of the UNID sites must be spurious signals, I think
... Which may well be right, given the overload I had at the Far Sant Sebastia at the opposite end of town. It was probably less than 5km away.
Finally, Fabrizio Carnevalini commented:
> 96.5 UNID Italian station playing club music 00:15 GMT 31/05. I think is RIN - Radio Italia Network, Sennori - Su Lotto (Sassari, Sardinia)
> 105.8 R Dimensione Suono, Cagliari? *_RDS_*_ is from Monte Limbara, Sardinia
I remember some further correspondence about the unidentified Italian stations we regularly received on Suffolk DX trips. These too concluded that these sites in north-east Sardinia got out very well and that these were very likely to have been what we received. It all bodes very well for this reception being from Sardinia. If so, the distance would be in excess of 1300 km - not impossible for tropo, but quite exceptional for any kind of scatter.