Saturday morning fun: “fat” MW DXing with the MFJ-1886

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

It was a reader, Mario Filippi, who set me on this path. He posted a comment that said, in part: “An interesting place to DX would be the segment between 1500 – 1590 kc’s where there are a number of news stations, one being federal news on 1500.”

Huh, I thought, federal news? I wonder if I can hear that. So I hooked up the MFJ 1886 Receive Loop Antenna to my Grundig Satellit 800 receiver and tuned to 1500. With the 800’s whip antenna, I heard mostly static; switching to the 50-foot indoor room loop, pretty much the same; same thing with the 1886 with the amplifier turned off. But turn the 1886’s amplifier on, and it was like getting slammed against the wall by the schoolyard bully: LISTEN TO ME! A big, fat, S9 signal, sounding like WGY 810 just a few miles from me. Wow, I thought, this loop can really pull out a signal.

A little research revealed, as nearly as I can tell, that Federal News 1500 is in Washington, DC, over 300 miles from me. Over the next few days I would occasionally check on Federal News 1500 using the 1886 loop, and typically it was loud and clear here in Troy, NY.

Hidden behind a curtain, the 3-foot aluminum loop of the MFJ 1886 works well for MW DXing.

Early this morning, Jan. 28, 2023, a thought crept into my brain: how many big, fat, MW signals could I detect with the combo of the Satellite 800 and the MFJ 1886 loop antenna? (Bear in mind that my 1886 rests flat against a window and is NOT rotatable in its current configuration.) Here’s the log, with station IDs when I could get them.

Time                Frequency                   Station

1100Z              1520                            WWKB Buffalo

1102Z              1530                            Milwaukee? Sports, Australian open

1106Z              1540                            CHIN Toronto, old time radio programs

1112Z              1560                            religious music

1115Z              1660                            orchestral music, Strauss waltzes

1118Z              540                              middle eastern music

1121Z              660                              WFAN, NYC

1124Z              700                              WLW, Cincinnati

1127Z              710                              WOR, the Voice of New York

1129Z              730                              French language, Canada mentioned

1132Z              750                              WSB, Atlanta

1134Z              770                              WABC, NYC

1135Z              790                              ortho doctor show

1138Z              860                              French language, Canada mentioned

1140Z              880                              WCBS, NYC

1142Z              1010                            WINS, NYC

1144Z              1020                            Talk

1146Z              1030                            WBZ, Boston

1148Z              1050                            WEPN, ESPN radio, New York

1149Z              1060                            KYW, Philadelphia, PA

1153Z              1090                            WBAL, Baltimore

1154Z              1110                            WBT Charlotte, NC

Bottom line: it was immense fun, tuning around for “fat” MW stations in the early AM. Periodically I checked the other antennas as I traversed the band, but universally the MFJ 1886 was better at pulling them in.

Fat station DX? You bet! Try it; you’ll like it!

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28 thoughts on “Saturday morning fun: “fat” MW DXing with the MFJ-1886

    1. Mark William LaPoint

      I have the same radio pictured and the same loop antenna, but for some reason the 1886 I have doesn’t work well on MW at all!!!! I’m so pissed off too, because it’s not a cheap antenna. It cost me about $135 to ship back to MFJ and it too MFJ several months to get it back to me and it STILL didn’t work on MW. It works better on freqs above 4mhz, but for MW I have to use my 100 foot longwire with 9:1 unun.

  1. Chuck Rippel

    This is MOST EXCELLENT! Who said BCB radio is dead! I just deployed, for this (season, yuk) a Wellbrook ALA-1530LN and also deploy the 112′ DKAZ that has been deployed “looking west.” Will go in a different direction this year. The Atlantic Ocean is about 15 miles to my east. There really isn’t anything that needs nulling from 050 – 130 deg. I have an R390A/Sherwood SE3 combo that’s going to get a workout. We could make this interesting by restricting listening to the period 10AM – 2PM maybe 3PM. I don’t have my table at hand but we’re getting close to Critical Hours in each of our time zones. The last hour really presents some unique opportunities as propagation changes and ground wave characteristics change and one can hear magic happen as one station fades out and another fades in.

    Has anyone NOT seen DX Central as yet. Lloyd VanHorn puts on a superb show of interest to BCB listening:

    1. Mark William LaPoint

      My 1886 is next to useless on MW! My longwire that is about 100+ foot long works great though!

      My 1886 works best above 3.5 mhz (for me). Must be something wrong with it because as I said, MW is dead using it. I’m not happy with it at all.

      73’s Mark

      1. Jock Elliott


        I believe you, and I can offer no explanation.

        Two thoughts occur: 1 have you tried rotating the 1886 and 2 are you sure your receiver disables any internal antenna for medium wave?

        Cheers, Jock

        1. Mark LaPoint

          I’ve used it on my Yaesu ft 1000mp and it’s the same problem as when I use it on my Grundig receiver, which yes, I set the switch to ext antenna only on the grundig. When I first got this useless antenna, I couldn’t hear anything on ANY frequency. After shipping it back to MFJ (cost me $130 shipping too!) it sat with them for months before they got around to sending it back to me and now I CAN hear stations, but like I said, MW is not working fine. I can hear stations on MW now, but they are very weak, even local stations. When I switch to my longwire (rcv only) antenna ( use a 9:1 unun for it), I get stations loud and clear. I’m not investing any more money on this antenna. Very disappointed.

    2. Jock Elliott

      Thanks, Chuck, always good to hear from you. I will check out Lloyd’s show.

      Thanks for the heads-up on that.

      Cheers, Jock

      1. Chuck Rippel

        The only West Coast station I’ve ever heard was when the “X” Band first opened and there was only a single station on…. 1630 or there about. ECNA has to listen through all the AM stations in CONUS to hear the west coast. Sunrise, sunset… doesn’t matter. We do, well… did…. fairly well hearing Europe though. Propagation favors us on a West to East path but not East to West.

  2. Jack K

    1500 Federal News Radio has been booming into Long Island, NY at night since the days of WTOP (CBS Newsradio). Most every night, like a local, I can also enjoy the Washington Nationals and, I believe, the Capitols play-by-play.

  3. Peter L

    730 is likely CKAC “Radio Circulation” (say that with a French accent). Back in the day it was a real radio station but is now all traffic reports all the time.

  4. Roger Fitzharris

    Hello Jock,
    Not an early riser, but just for comparison’s sake, took your format and ran with it – using a nighttime twist.
    Time Frequency(kHz) Station
    0000Z 1520 WWKB Buffalo – DNR
    0003Z 1530 Sports Programming – WCKY, Cincy (SW OH QTH)
    0006Z 1540 CHIN Toronto, old time radio programs – DNR
    0012Z 1560 religious music – WCNW, Fairfield, OH (SW OH QTH)
    0015Z 1660 orchestral music, Strauss waltzes – DNR
    0018Z 540 middle eastern music – DNR
    0021Z 660 WFAN, NYC ?
    0024Z 700 WLW, Cincinnati ?
    0027Z 710 WOR, the Voice of New York – DNR
    0030Z 730 French language, Canada mentioned – DNR
    0033Z 750 WSB, Atlanta – DNR
    0037Z 770 WABC, NYC – DNR
    0040Z 790 ortho doctor show – DNR
    0043Z 860 French language, Canada mentioned – DNR
    0046Z 880 WCBS, NYC ?
    0049Z 1010 WINS, NYC – DNR
    0052Z 1020 Talk – KDKA, Pittsburgh PA (SW OH QTH) ?
    0055Z 1030 WBZ, Boston, MA ?
    0058Z 1050 WEPN, ESPN radio, New York – DNR
    0101Z 1060 KYW, Philadelphia, PA ?
    0104Z 1090 WBAL, Baltimore ?
    0107Z 1110 WBT Charlotte, NC ?

    Tuning around for MW stations in the PM. QTH – SW Ohio. Using a CC Radio 2E (stock internal ferrite antenna). DNR indicates Did Not Receive. ? indicates reception with good copy.

    1. Chuck Rippel

      WCBS pretty much “owns” 880 on the east coast. Their antenna system is located in a salt marsh, as I recall. During the winter, I can hear them on a car radio in VA in the middle of the day.

  5. Tom Fawcett

    Hi Jock,

    I left a couple of comments on your post regarding your dad’s time as a POW. My great uncle was the pilot of the plane that you father was shot down in. He was killed, but I have recently found out more about him. The article I found listed your father and a few Google searches later I found you. I am curious what you know about how the plane was shot down as there is some disagreement.

    Warm Regards,

    1. Jock Elliott

      Sorry, I missed your replies at the “Radio Letters” post.

      The only way I know the plane was shot down was that my father told me.

      I believe he was imprisoned in in Stalag Luft 17.

      Thank you soooo much for sharing the information!

      If you feel the need to email me, I can be reached at [email protected]

      Cheers, Jock

  6. Bill Hemphill

    Hi Jock,

    Very nice.

    540 is probably WNWD in Islip, NJ which broadcasts Indian and East Asia programs.

    860 might be CJBC in Toronto, Canada.

    The timing of your post couldn’t have been more perfect.

    Every year the New Jersey Antique Radio Club has a BCB DX contest for its club members. The main purpose is to encourage the members to put into operation some of the many old am radios that they own. This year’s contest was just completed this past Sunday. For any 24 hour period, using the same radio, you attempt to log the most distant stations. The contest score is the total mileage of the ten stations that are most distant.

    It’s a lot of fun and its great seeing what radios the members use.

    This year I used a Zenith Royal 500 transistor radio and a GE Model 125 All American Five tube radio. I used a 27” tunable hula-hoop style antenna that’s mounted on a turntable.

    What was really interesting this year was the number of Cuban stations that I was receiving. Radio Enciclopedia on 530 and Radio Progreso on 890 were booming in. I didn’t even need the loop antenna to receive them. I received a total of five Cuban stations but could probably have received even more. I live just above Atlantic City and I guess I have a clear shot across the water to Cuba. I found that if the signal is good, I can record what I think is the station ID and then feed it into Google Translate on my Phone. The results can be surprisingly good.

    If you can make your loop rotate you may get the wonderful experience of (on the same frequency) receiving one station, then rotating the loop and receiving another station. One time I was able to pick up three different stations on the same frequency just by rotating the loop.

    I have always enjoyed listening for new am stations and maintain a simple log of the stations I have received.

    Good luck and enjoy the AM listening.

    Bill WD9EQD
    Smithville, NJ

    1. Jock Elliott

      Bill, thanks! And the contest sounds like fun.

      What I really rediscovered is what I learned as a kid: the simple joy of tuning around in the dark.

      Cheers, Jock

  7. Mario Filippi

    Jock thanks for the kind acknowledgement.

    You’ve bagged some great stations there young man. You’re an inspiration to us all to not forget the AM broadcast band when flying our radio-rigged magic carpets through the ethers. A few comments:

    WWKB – (“KB Buffalo”) used to be a great Rock station years ago.

    540 kHz – (mentioned in your post) is also received here nightly but haven’t ID’d that one yet.

    860 AM, as you mentioned, is a Canadian station but when the sun rises here in NJ it’s WWDB from Philadelphia, with lots of religious and ethnic programs. One of my favorites heard here with ease.

    Here’s a few more for AM DXpeditioners:
    740 AM – Zoomer Radio from Canada, classic oldies, very strong at night.
    570 AM – Radio Reloj (Radio Clock), Habana Cuba – listen for a ticking clock just under WMCA’s (NYC) religious broadcasts, along with “RR” in CW every minute.
    1170 – WRVA, Richmond, VA. Former country music station but in the wee hours, trucker-related topics.
    517 kHz – YWA aeronautical beacon from Canada – okay, this is cheating a bit since it’s a tad below the BC band.

    Thanks Jock for letting us know that DX’ing the AM band is an adventure when old Sol calls it a day. 73’s de N2HUN.


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