Author Archives: Paul Walker

Why I DX?

…… or as all the locals call it, “Talking to the aliens at the International Space Station.” You might ask yourself, what in the world? Well, I live in a very small, remote bush Alaska village, and my DXing is done outside, yes… even in winter. I’ve been here 3 1/2 years now, and when I first got here, 2 or 3 people seriously thought I was trying to talk to aliens.

I’m kinda “late” to the DXing game… starting seriously in 2014 when I was 30 years old but dabbling in it as young as 5th grade when I thought it was SO COOL I could hear WOWO 1190 Fort Wayne, Indiana, and KDKA 1020 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in central Connecticut clear as a bell at night.

In like 6th grade, my uncle gave me a beautiful tabletop Firestone radio and hooked up a long wire about 100 feet long from my bedroom window to a tree in my yard… wow, WLW 700 Cincinnati every night in Connecticut, I was hooked!

When I discovered how radio waves traveled great distances and at the same time, listening to a really fun oldies station, Big D 103… I was like “This is for me,” and started my quest and desire to work in radio… something about speaking into a radio and being heard 10-20-30-40-50 miles away fascinated me to the umpteenth degree.

That was really before the internet, but I’m 40 now and have been working in radio for 20 years, still DXing mostly every day. Most of my money is spent on food and DXing accouterments.

I’ve had people ask me, especially those who in the small Alaskan village I’m in, “Why, especially in cold weather do you do this?”

I tell them a couple things… I moved up here in part for the hobby, so I’m going to take every advantage I can. There’s too much electrical noise for me to do it from home.

Sitting out here at the park is my “Happy place,” especially after a particularly trying day at work for any number of reasons; this is my place to escape and decompress while being by myself… peace and quiet.

Plus, it’s the magic of how these radio waves travel that got me interested in working in radio. I’ve never lost that childhood magic and wonderment of radio waves and how things work, even though I’m 40. I’m really 40 going on 12 anyways.

I like how when I know when and where to listen, I can hear some amazing things up here in Alaska that many people wouldn’t expect I’d hear at all or as well. There’s something to sitting at the park, especially on a nice summer afternoon, and getting a solid S9+60 or better signal on Radio Nacional de Amazonias 11780 kHz from 12,400 km, opening my radio’s audio filter to 8 kHz bandwidth, and listening to a football match, sounding like I’m right in the stadium or tuned to their music/listener interactive show “Eu de Cá, Você de Lá” hosted by Mauricio Rabelo and sound like I’m tuned in on a 50,000 Watt AM from 50 miles away.

And no, I don’t understand 99.5% of Portuguese, and I only know a few basic words I can speak. I’m way way outside of their target area, but RNA from Brazil being anywhere from “listenable” to “Banging in like a ton of lead bricks” is very common because I’m in just the right place for it.

And I do it all without the internet. Well, OK… I do use the schedule from

All of that combines to fascinate me. And yes, remember… I know how it all works, and I still do a lot of internet streaming, but radio waves continue to fascinate me because it takes some twisting of knobs and fiddling with the antenna to get it just right.

And the fact that it just works and travels through the air is amazing to me.

I live in McGrath, Alaska, which is a community of 275 people that is 355 km NW of Anchorage, completely off the radio system. I manage the daily operations of KSKO Public Radio, an NPR member station, with 8 FM transmitters spread across several hundred miles of Alaska. You can also catch me every Friday on Spaceline Bulgaria’s 5900 kHz transmitter across Europe 2100-2200 UTC with a live relay of my very local KSKO Lunchtime show.

I moved up here for the job, but also knowing that from past experiences living 125 miles north of here 7 years ago, that DX would be amazing. And it’s far exceeded my expectations along with the knowledge and expectations of some of my broadcast engineer friends and station owner friends!

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A Transmitter Park In Brazil Is Celebrating its 50th Birthday!

The facility 40km northwest of Brasilia originally cost $15 Million USD to build and will turn 50 years old on March 11, 2024. It’s home to several SW, AM and FM transmitters , including Radio Nacional de Amazonias on 6180 and 11780khz. The stations owner, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação , a government owned agency plans to recognize the facility’s Gold anniversary.

Find out more about the facility’s history at this link

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My Favorite Shortwave Station and a Story Of Radio Waves Connecting People Across The Globe

Radio Nacional Brazil staff & reception of the Amazonias shortwave service in Alaska!

by Paul Walker, Program Director Of KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska 

I moved up to McGrath for 2 reasons, the job and DX’ing! Some people move here because they’re outdoorsy types.. hunting, fishing or etc but not me. I knew from previous experience in Galena, Alaska that DXing here would be amazing so after a 3 year absence

I have done AM DX, but am mainly doing SW DX now and while I’ve used a few radios over the years, this is my current radio, the long silver rectangular TEF6686. It’s coupled with a 15 foot Wellbrook loop, DXEngineering Preamp and an EmTech ZM2

I quickly discovered Radio Nacional de Amazonias service broadcasting from near Brasilia to the Amazon region of Brazil. They use 100,000 Watts on 6180khz and 11780khz. 6180 is listed on as beaming at 344 degrees and 11780 is listed as 0 degrees, which could be interpreted as 360/1 deg, straight up or Non Directional.. neither of which appears to be true according to a map I’ve seen in a few places

(from Timm Breyel’s blog,

It would appear the 6180khz service is beamed at about 355 degrees and the 11780khz service is beamed at about 345 degrees.

Anyways, I quickly came to like this station because, even though it’s all in Portuguese, a language I neither speak nor really understand.. it’s quite lively and entertaining. Wether it’s a futbol match, with the announcer holding the “GOOOOAAAAALLLLL” scream for 10-20 seconds, a radio play/drama (Yes, really!) or an interactive show with listener comments and music, it’s a FUN listen and you get the sense that the audience likes the station!

Here’s a short 3 clip montage of some excited futbol announcers on Radio Nacional de Amazonias 11780khz recorded from my Alaska QTH as they excitedly proclaim “GOAAAAALLLL”

That listener interactive show is what really drew me in, hosted by the man in the cowboy hat in the picture at the top of this page, Mauricio Rabelo. He seems to be well liked, somewhat of a long term legend in Brazil radio and good at what he does.

The Radio Nacional de Amazonias signal on 11780khz is always at least mildly listenable here in McGrath, alaska but as evidenced by the picture, it can be and is often quite good. There are many times where its as solid as a 50KW local broadcast AM signal from 20 miles away could be with zero noise, zero fading and the ability to widen my radios audio bandwith all the way from 3khz to 6khz or even sometimes 8khz bandwith!

Here’s a video of my reception using the older ATS25 radio

I soon discovered that the station had a WhatsApp number and listeners could send in messages that the station would sometimes play over the air so I thought to myself, “Why not? give it a try” and they were thrilled to have a listener so far away who also sent in a message.

I am many thousands of KM’s outside the target area of the SW signal but am directly in the main lobe and at a great location for a 2nd or 3rd hop, which is what makes the signal so consistent and so good for me.

I became a regular listener and semi regular contributor of WhatsApp voice messages to the show, “Eu de Cá Você Lá” that Mauricio Rabelo hosts most afternoons. He admitted once or twice, his English was very very poor and almost non existent so I took it upon myself to start using a few Portuguese words from time to time, and even using a few new ones now and then.. probably butchering the pronunciations but people started taking notice.

Mauricio himself would use a few basic english words “thank you my friend” and struggle to do it, but he’d try. Listeners especially took notice and would comment from time to time on my participation in the show, loving the fact I listen from so far away and have tried to learn their language.

This has gone on over the last 3 years or so and is still fun for me. I usually tell Mauricio and listeners in my messages about the weather here or any important/interesting news we have going on, in very brief detail. I’ve had listeners even invite me to visit Brazil! I make sure I begin each message with a greeting in Portuguese, “boa noite” (goodnight) and end each message with a “sign off” in Portuguese, “muito obrigado” (many thanks) so if nothing else gets said in Portuguese, there’s at least that.

I’ve been known to make dinner and go to the park with my gear on warm weather days and enjoy listening while eating dinner!

In a tv special on 100 years of radio in Brazil, Mauricio and another man are guests where they talk about radio and in one particular segment, they talk about the reach of Radio Nacional on Shortwave. In the video below, fast forward to 4 minutes and 10 seconds then watch/listen for a little bit…. you don’t have to understand Portuguese to understand the reference Mauricio makes about 30-40 seconds in

I kind’ve consider Radio Nacional de Amazonias to be “somewhat dx” despite the regularity and strength of the signal because I’m so far from their intended service area yet the signal visits me at a good level quite often. It’s a perfect set of circumstances that make that happen too, because If I was further west/southwest or further east/southeast the signal wouldn’t be as good.

I’ve searched high and low for clips of the station and found some good ones, but never any quite as good as mine.

By the way, the picture of the staff at the very top of the post was taken by them just for me and sent over WhatsApp after I sent along a picture and video of me working at KSKO 89.5. The man on the left in yellow is the co host of “”Eu de Cá Você Lá”, the woman in yellow is the female news reader, the man 3rd from the left is the producer and the man on the far right in the cowboy hat is Mauricio Rabelo. Search for Mauricio on Youtube and you’ll find  some very interesting videos of him holding a parade when he was campaigning some years ago for a federal office

I like, despite the distance and language barrier, there’s been a bit of a connection between people. It’s the magic of radio waves that got me interested in working in the broadcasting business nearly 30 years ago and part of the reason why I’m still at it after 20 years

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How I Figure Out and Decide What To Log On Shortwave….

by Paul Walker, Program Director, KSKO 89.5 McGrath Alaska (not my radio, stock photo)

Some have asked, so I thought I’d share. Everyones DX’ing goals and rules are different and that’s what makes the hobby interesting……these are mine. If I logged everything, I’d have multi gigabytes of audio on a weekly basis that I’d never ever finish sorting through. Alaska seems to be a great place for direct long path, off the back or over the pole reception of alot of signals!

I have a schedule site ( that gives me the frequency, schedule, broadcaster, transmitter location,  language and target area of the signal. I then quickly work out in my mind where I am in relation to that.

Like something beaming from Oman or the UAE to the Middle East, I may be off center from the main lobe, but it’s a long path trip for that signal. Something from Botswana to Northern/Western African, I am in near the direct center main lobe of the long path of that, as I recall looking up at one point. Or I could be getting something off the back from Galbeni or Santa Maria de Galleria.

I quickly work that out in my head and ten figure out if that’s actual DX. Then i quickly evaluate the signal.. quality over quantity. I know what many signals are capable of here at some point or another.. and If I’m getting a noisy, fadey signal where I know anything from alot better is possible to common, I won’t log it or record audio.

I do regularly log some poor to fair signals because they are rare here and usually low power. (Tarma 4775khz, Brazil 15190khz, et al)

I also take into account what others have logged and how well. I go after the lesser heard or those not heard as well by others. I live in a very unique location for DX and I want to use my time wisely by learning about what I hear, what I hear and going after whatever my personal definition is of the most worthy signals to log.

I typically do not log anything of which I am in the target area or spill over area of. Like Radio Romania International, China Radio international.. because thats just easy pickin’s for me…. with a few exceptions

This is not to say anyone who logs only target area or easy stuff is doing it wrong. We just go after different things and do things differently.

If I logged everything I heard, I’d have multi gigabytes of audio on a weekly basis that I’d never ever finish sorting through and as Thomas Witherspoon knows, I’m behind with processing my audio all the time as it is!

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Is Someone Refurbing Shortwave Transmitters In Ethiopia?

I think the answer to this is.. YES! I say that based upon my monitoring from here in McGrath, Alaska.

I’ve never ever ever heard Amhara State Radio on 6090khz from my QTH. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ve never been on, but I’ve never even heard a carrier from them and I can’t recall anyone logging them.

Well, Saturday night February 17th (AK time) I detected an initially unknown signal on 6090khz. I noticed it just after 0300 Sun Feb. 18, I heard what was very decidedly African continent sounding music. It appeared to be one long track on a loop, because 2 days later, I had the same melody going for over 15 minutes… so I kept listening on that 3rd day and heard it fade down as it ended and started again.

There was no modulation that 2nd day. But as we look at the 3rd day again, I heard a different track start about 0345UTC or so. About,0352 I heard a guy speak (!!) but the signal started to lose steam quickly. About 0356 which is the listed sign on for Amhara on 6090khz, I heard an actual song start and about 0401 I heard a lady speak with what sounded like music.

Amharic is used on Shortwave by the BBC, Deutsche Welle and the VOA. While I don’t claim to be a language expert at all, what I heard on 6090 did sound similar to what I’ve heard from other broadcasters.

Fast forward to Wednesday night February 21st (AK Time), I detected a signal on 6110khz. To be fair, I’ve had something an “ok-ish”  a few times from my Alaska QTH but with less modulation than Cuba or Iran.  On Feb. 22nd (UTC) on the 0300 hour, I had a GOOD signal with modulation (!!) on 6110khz.

6110’s audio had, again like 6090khz, decidedly African continent  sounding music and lots of speech that sounded like Amharic to me.

6090khz and 6110khz either share a site or are close by. Is someone refurbing their transmitters…. China?  I sent a message to the Amhara State Media Facebook page but haven’t gotten an answer back.

I wonder what’s going on here? Your thoughts and comments are welcome

Paul Walker

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REMINDER TODAY: KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska Christmas Special Show On WRMI Shortwave!

Join me, Paul Walker, on WRMI Shortwave for a special LIVE broadcast being relayed from NPR/community radio station KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska where I work as Program Director

It’ll take place Saturday December 25th 0400-0600UTC on 5850kHz to the east coast US and 7730kHz to the west coast US, Canada along with Hawaii, and the South Pacific (NZ, Aus, etc)

We don’t have QSL cards or anything but if you want confirmation of reception, keep the email short and sweet with the usual needed details and send me a note: [email protected]

(5850kHz has a pretty wide beam and despite being directed at Vancouver, it’s often quite audible in the eastern US.  7330kHz is beamed towards the US/Mexico border  which affords 7730 better coverage of the Pacific Ocean region countries )

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KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska Christmas Special Request Show On WRMI Shortwave!

Join me, Paul Walker, on WRMI Shortwave for a special broadcast on WRMI Shortwave being relayed from NPR/community radio station KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska where I work as Program Director

It’ll take place Saturday December 25th 0400-0600UTC on 5850kHz to the east coast US and 7730kHz to the west coast US, Canada along with Hawaii, and the South Pacific (NZ, Aus, etc)

I will give out a phone number during the show where you can call with requests since it’ll be a live show.  We don’t have QSL cards or anything but if you want confirmation of reception, keep the email short and sweet with the usual needed details and send me a note: [email protected]

(5850kHz has a pretty wide beam and despite being directed at Vancouver, it’s often quite audible in the eastern US.  7330kHz is beamed towards the US/Mexico border  which affords 7730 better coverage of the Pacific Ocean region countries )


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