WG2XFQ: Brian Justin’s holiday longwave broadcasts

Reginald Fessenden: "The Father of Radio Broadcasting" (Source: Wikipedia)

Reginald Fessenden: “The Father of Radio Broadcasting” (Source: Wikipedia)

SWLing Post reader, Tom, recently shared a link to an article on the ARRL news page which describes this annual longwave broadcast:

“As he has over the past several years, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS/4 — an active participant in the ARRL’s WD2XSH 600 meter experimental project — will transmit voice and music on 486 kHz as WG2XFQ on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and again on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Transmissions will begin at 0001 UTC and end at 2359 UTC.

Justin, who may be better known for his microwave exploits on ham radio, will use an AM audio loop modulating his vintage-style, homebrew transmitter to honor Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Even 1906 AM voice transmission.”

Since I’m a sucker for radio history, I contacted Brian Justin and he kindly answered a few questions:

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: http://w4dex.com/500khz/wd2xsh31.htm)

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: w4dex.com)

SWLing: How did you first become interested in longwave (LW)?
Justin: Always had an interest in history of radio since becoming a ham at age 11. Early wireless had emphasis on LW and so it was a good trail to follow in my years as a ham.

SWLing: Is the process of getting a license to broadcast complicated?
Justin: Yes and No. What I hold is not a broadcast license as a TV or FM or AM station would have. I hold an FCC Part 5 license which is for The Experimental Radio Service. The LW and MF spectrum is formally US Govt spectrum that is managed by the NTIA (the US Govt Agency version of the FCC). So before the FCC can issue any license that is in non-FCC regulated bands the NTIA must first approve any license Grant. A good number of people who are involved in radio today don’t always understand the difference between FCC and NTIA spectrum. But licenses can be granted if you have the willingness to wait and know how the application process works. It’s not all that difficult once you know the context of what one is asking for.

SWLing: What is the best time to listen for WG2XFQ and how can listeners improve their chances of hearing you?
Justin: The transmissions are only a few times each year to mark historical dates in radio history. I try to make at least two each year, one for Fessenden and one for the Berlin Radio Treaty. I also ran one on the 100th Aniv of the sinking of the Titanic since wireless played a big role in the tragic event.

A loop antenna is a good antenna to try as one can at least null any loud noise source. But simple E-field probe antennas have worked for many in years past.

Anyone who copies WG2XFQ is encouraged to submit a logging of it at 500kc.com.

Thank you and good DX to all this Holiday Season. I hope I can deliver a tiny DX gift to all if the band is in good condition this year.

Many thanks, Brian!

I will be listening for WG2XFQ on 486 kHz on December 24th and 25th, then again on December 31st and January 1st. With any luck, and if conditions are favorable, perhaps I’ll hear a little longwave DX commemorating Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Even 1906 AM voice transmission.

Readers, be sure to check out Brian Justin’s web page and the ARRL 600 meter experimental group’s website. Please log your WG2XFQ listener reports at: 500KC.com

If you would like to learn more about Reginald Fessenden, check out Fessenden.ca.

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9 thoughts on “WG2XFQ: Brian Justin’s holiday longwave broadcasts

    1. Thomas Post author

      I managed to catch him! Just published the audio in a post:

      Curious if anyone else logged WG2XFQ? Brian Justin tells me that the best DX report (on Christmas) came from 50 miles west of Buffalo, NY. Not sure if propagation was better on New Year’s Eve/Day.


  1. Michael Black

    That was another bit of radio history for December that I forget, It is an impressive
    story, coming so early on in history, when really not much voice was being broadcast.
    And certainly not many receivers out there to hear the broadcast.

    Reginald Fessenden was actually born here in Quebec, about a 2 hour drive from Montreal (well 2 hours now, it must have been longer when he as born). I don’t know whether it still happens, but in the nineties I kept seeing notices for an event in Knowlton Quebec (where he was born) for an event called something like “Radio Days”, to commemorate his birth in the region. The Brome County Historical Society might have been behind that, they did and maybe still have a display about Fessenden.

    CKUT here in Montreal had a radio play about him in 2006. A quick search (because I’m in a hurry) might uncover whether that’s still available online.



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