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DXERS' HANDBOOK

LATIN AMERICA DX-ING.


This guide to listen latin-american SW stations was based on Radio Netherlands' pamphlet «Latin America DX-ing». You can obtain a free copy of this publication writing to:

English Section, Radio Netherlands, P.O. Box 222, 1200 JG Hilversum, Holland.


LATIN AMERICA DX-ING

Introduction

The topic of listening to Latin America has probably occupied more space in shortwave listening and DX bulletins over the years than any other topic. We hope this pamphlet is a little different. It has been written from a different viewpoint, the broadcaster's angle, based on recent conversations with managers of shortwave stations in the region. We conducted the surveys in December 1991. This pamphlet is primarily designed for shortwave listeners who have gained some experience on the major international broadcating bands (i.e. the 49 and 31 metre bands) and wish to look a little further. Addresse are given at the end of this pamphlet advising you on where to Iook further for background reading. Further suggestions and comments from listeners are always welcome

Differences

Though some texts lead the begineer SWL straight into the topic of Iistening to Latin America the results can often be less than rewarding. In practice, most shortwave listeners start their listening on the international SW broadcast bands and pick up stations such Radio Australia, Radio Sweden, Voice of America, British Broadcasting Corporation, and we hope Radio Netherlands.

All these, and many more, are international broadcasters. They make programmes in foreign languages other than their mother tongue, and the whole output is made with the overseas target area in mind. Most welcome reception reports and many SWLs start to correspond with stations by first sending in a reception report. Over the years the emphasis on the reception report has changed (though not necessarily diminished), and we have tried to define what many international broadcasters are looking for now in the pamphlet "WRITING USEFUL RECEPTION REPORTS". This is available free of charge, and even if you have been DXing or SWLing for some time, there may be some useful hints in the publication

For the majority of shortwave listeners, the international broadcasting stations are enough. But, if you have a little patience, and quite a lot of time, it is possible to find another category of stations on the bands, i.e. the SW domestic broadcaster.

Domestic Broadcasters

Stations lying between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are assigned three different "tropical" shortwave bands by the international Telecomunications Union (ITU) in Geneva.
These are the 120 metre band which lies between 2300-2498 KHz, the 90 metre band between 3200-3400KHz, and the 60 metre band 4750-5060KHz the frequency of 5000 KHz is not included since this is allocated to other users, including time (signal stations). It is this latter frequency range that is probably the best to explore first for the newcomer.

Though there are some countries outside the tropics which use the tropical band of 60 metres (e.g. USSR) most of the signals yoou will hear are from tropical broadcasters using this frequency range for domestic broadcasting. This applies to stations in Latin America, though the reason for using shortwave seems to be changing now in many countries. Because thunder storms are very frequent in the tropics, medium wave reception can be very difficult when signal strength is low.

And so many stations started broadcating their programmes on the 60 metre band to reduce this problem (interference is usually less severe). A wider audience can be covered with the same transmitter.
This reason now seems to be changing as more and more stations, particularly in the larger cities, use medium wave with stronger transmitters and even FM in some areas. Shortwave outlets have, therefore, been discontinued by some major stations, or merely retained as an extra outlet.

For ethers, the main reason for keeping the outlet open is to keep in touch with listeners as they move further afield, during parts of the year, because of their work. ln rural areas, especially mountainous regions, 60 metre band broadcasting has retained its importance.

Reception

We do not intend to cover the art and practice of listening to the tropical bands in very great detail. To gain experience, tune to this part of the dial as often as possible and also follow the loggings in most of the better DX clubs. The World Radio Television Handbook is also an excellent reference source, both in suggesting when, and on what frequency, you should look. It may help to identify DX catches.

However, since other regions outside the tropics use this frequency range for utility broadcasting, a first impresion may be misleading. Many beginners are disappointed to find the band full of morse and telex signals on a particular evening.
However, checking the same frequency range 24 hours later may reveal a number of strong broadcasting signals from Latin America.

Further references are given at the end of this text and, of course, there is regular news on what has been heard from this region in our Thursday "Media Network" programme.

Getting in Touch

Many listeners make the fundamental mistake of confusing the stations they hear on the international bands and those in Latin America. The latter are not generally interested in receiving correspondence from abroad, and if they receive many dozens of requests for "QSL" cards, the reports are usually simple thrown away
The SINPO code (see "Writing Useful Reception Reports") means nothing to most Latin American broadcasters, nor are reports in any other language apart from the country's mother tongue of any value.

International Reply Coupons are available at larger post offices in many parts of the world. In theory, someone in another country can exchange it for postage stamps to the value of the first step AIRMAIL postage.
In practice, especially in South America, IRCs are often not recognised for what they are. In some parts they may be invalid altogether. These factors mean that there is not much point sending the same standard reception report form you might use for large international broadcasters to these 60 metre band stations. Instead, the approach should be in the form of a personal letter.
Outright demands for a QSL card are seldom acknowledged and stations that receive many of these type of letters often stop QSLing altogether. Spanish reports can be used to the majority of stations, though Portuguese must be used to write to Brazilians. Simply asking for "verificação" (Portuguese) or "verificación" (Spanish) often brings a very vague reply which does not list the details contained in your report.

To help you, we have compiled a sample translation. This should not be regarded as the last word in Latin American reception report writing because, obviously, if you speak either of the two languages you will be able to inject your own personality into the letter. However, for those who do not have sufficient command of the grammar, the letter opposite is the nest best thing.
Each numbered sentence in the English text, corresponds with the same number in the Spanish and Portuguese text.

Dear Sir,
 

I am very interested in following events and the general way of life in Latin America (1)

You may know that radio and TV stations in this part of the world do not concentrate on news items from Latin America (or name of country) very often and only a limited range of records feeturing folk music from your country can be obtained here. (2)

For this reason, I listen to the tropical bands on my shortwave receiver, to follow developments directly and to enjoy the unique style of music. (3)

I was recently fortunate to tune in to Radio .... and although I realise that your programmes are not intended for an international audience, I hope nevertheless that you may be interested in knowing that your programmes can be heard many thousands of kilometres away. (4)

To give you an example, I have made a note of the details of a recent broadcast. (5)

On .... (date) at .... (local time) I tuned into a programme from Radio .... broadcast on .... kHz, in the 60/90/120 metre tropical SW band. (6)

At .... (time) you played a commercial for .... (7)
I noticed a news broadcast at .... (8)

You announced the name of the station at .... with the following words "...." (9)

Recognised a piece of music with the title of .... played at .... (10)

Your station closed down with the national anthem at .... (11)

Your station signed on at .... local time (12)

There was a break in transmission between .... and .... (13)

The signal quality was very good/good/fair, and I was able to enjoy what was said in the programme.

also found the music you played to be enjoyable. (14)

The signal quality as received here in .... (city) was naturally rather weak, but nevertheless I was able to follow some of what you said. (15)

There was slight/heavy interference from Radio Station .... broadcasting from .... on the frequency of .... kHz. (16)

My receiver is a made in Japan/Germany/USA by the .... company. (17)

The antenna is a (long wire) dipole/medium wave loop and is .... metres long, and .... metres above the ground. (18)

Because your signal varies in strength during different times of the year, it is not always good. But I hope to find the time to listen again, mainly because you provide me with a unique source of music and information. (19)

l should be very grateful it you could confirm in writing that I received Radio .... judging from the details I have enclosed. (20)

I would also appreciate a station pennant if you have one please, and more details about the programmes you broadcast. (21)

I am enclosinq a few mint stamps from your country which I hope will help towards your postage costs. (22)

I am enclosing $ .... which I hope will help towards your postage costs. (23)

I am also enclosing a few postcards/stamps from this part of the world which may be of interest, to give you an idea of the countryside around here. (24)

.... (Name of your town) lies about ... kms (north/south/east/west of.... (name of major City or capital). (25)

Thank you for your help, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. (26)

Yours sincerely, (27)

 

Follow up report

  1. Repeat sentences 1 - 4 the ....
  2. On the .... (date of dispatch of reception report) I sent you details of how well you are received at this location. However, since it is now some while ago since I sent the report, I presume my letter has been lost in the post. therefore I am again enclosing the details of reception on that day
  3. Select further number as appropriate.

Thank you letter

Dear Sir,

Just a short note to say thank you for your letter (and pennant) which arrived safely a few days ago. I was delighted to receive confirmation of reception from your station, and I hope that your signal will remain audible in this part of the world so I can follow events in your country.

Thanking you for your interest,

Best wishes,

SPANISH TRANSLATION

Estimados señores:

Ante todo quisiera saludarles e indicarles que soy una persona muy interesada por todo lo referente a los acontecimientos y las costumbres de América Latina. (1)

Como comprenderán Ustedes, en esta parte del mundo las estaciones de radio y televisión no dedican mucha atención a las noticias sobre América Latina (or the name of country) y además muy pocos discos de música folclórica de su país se pueden conseguir aquí. (2)

Por ese motivo mediante mi receptor de onda corta. escucho las bandas tropicales para seguir el curso de los acontecimientos en directo y para divertirme con el estilo de su música, que es único. (3)

Rercientemente tuve la suerte de sintonizar Radio ..., pero como me doy cuenta de que sus programas no están destinados a una audiencia internacional, espero que de todas formas Ustedes se interesen en saber que sus programas son escuchados a muchos kilómetros de su país. (4)

Seguidamente les indico algunos detalles de una reciente transmisión escuchada. (5)

El día .... (date), a las.... (loca time) horas, sintonicé con su programa de Radio.... en los .... kHz en los 60/90/120 metros de la banda tropical de la coda corta. (6)

A las .... (time) horas, Ustedes ofrecieron un anuncio comercial para .... (7)
Escuché un boletín de noticias a las .... (time) horas. (8)

Ustedes anunciaron el nombre de la emisora a las .... (time) horas con las siguientes palabras "...." (9)

Recuerdo además un trozo de música titulado, que se ofreció a las .... (time) horas. (10)

Su emisora cerró con el himno nacional a las .... (time) horas. (11)

Su emisora comenzó la emisión a las .... (time) horas. (12)

Noté una interrupción entre las .... (time) hasta las .... (time) horas. (13)

La calidad de la señal fue excelente/buena/regular. Estuve muy atento a su estupenda programación y también a la música emitida por Ustedes. (14)

La calidad de señal recibida aquí en .... (city) fue naturalmente bastante débil pero no obstante pude compreder algo de lo que Ustedes dijeron. (15)

Había una interferencia suave/muy fuerte de la emisora Radio .... que transmitía desde las .... horas en la frecuencia de los .... kHz (16)

Mi receptor es un .... de fabricación japonesa/alemana/estadounidense.

Tiene un circuito de acuerdo con el "principio superheterodino" y tiene .... (nr.) transistores. (17)

La antena es (long wire) un dipolo/una antena "loop" de onda media y tiene una longitud de .... metros y está a una altura de .... metros. (18)

Debido a que su señal varia de intensidad durante las diferentes estaciones del año no siempre me es posible sintonizar sus programas. Sin embargo, cuando las condiciones sean propicias, espero tener tiempo para volverlas a escuchar, ya que estoy interesado en las informaciones y en la música de su país, que difícilmente podemos encontrar aquí. (19)

Las agradecería mucho que Ustedes me constestaran con una carta en la cual se indicara que he captado Radio por medio de los detalles que les he incluido. (20)

También les quedaría muy agradecido si me remitieran un banderín de la emisora o algun recuerdo y detalles sobre los programas que Ustedes transmiten. (21)

Les incluyo un dinero/estampilla de su país para que les sirva de ayuda en el envio postal. (22)

Les incluyo $ .... que espero les ayude para los gastos de envio. (23)

También les envio algunas postales/estampillas de esta parte del mundo para darles una idea del lugar de donde les escribo. (24)

.... (Name of your town) está ubicado apróximadamente a unos .... kilómetros al norte/sur/este/oeste de .... (name of major city or capital). (25)

Les agradezco de antemano su ayuda y espero con gran interés su contestación. (26)

Me despido muy atentamente, (27)

Follow-up report

  1. Repeat sentences 1 - 4 then ....
  2. El día .... (date) les envié a Ustedes detalles de cómo son escuchados sus programas en esta localidad. Ya ha pasado algún tiempo y aún no he recibido contestación alguna por lo que imagino que la carta se habrá extraviado. Por eso les envio nuevamente los detalles de ese dia.
  3. Select further numbers as appropriate.

Thank you letter

Estimados señores:

Por la presente me es muy grato saludarles y comunicarles que he recibido en buen estado hace unos días su atenta carta (y el banderín) que tan gentilmente me remitieron. Estoy muy contento de recibir por su parte la confirmación de recepción de su emisora y espero que su señal continúe siendo audible para así poder seguir los acontecimientos en su país.

Agradeciéndoles nuevamente la atención dispensada, reciban los más cordiales saludos,

Muy atentamente,

BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE VERSION

Prezados senhores:

Interesso-me bastante pelo que ocorre e pelos costumes e a vida em geral na America Latina. (1)

Como os senhores podem compreender, as estações de rádio e televisão nesta parte do mundo não dedicam muita atenção às noticías de America Latina (or name of country). Além disso são poucos os discos de música folclórica do seu país que podemos obter aqui. (2)

Porisso sintonizo as bandas tropicais no meu aparelho de ondas curtas para acompanhar diretamente a evolução dos acontecimentos e para ouvir um estilo de música que aprecio. (3)

Recentemente tive a sorte de sintonizar a Rádio .... e muito embora eu compreenda que os seus programas não são dirigidos a um público internacional, creio, no entanto, que os senhores certamente terão interesse em saber que as suas transmissões podem ser ouvidas a milhares de quilõmetros de distãncia. (4)

Para lhes dar um exemplo, eu anotei os detalhes de uma transmissão recente. (5)

No dia (date) as .... (local time), eu sintonizei um programa da Rádio .... transmitido em .... kHz, na faixa de 60/90/120 metros da banda tropical em ondas curtas. (6)

As .... (time) os senhores transmitiram um anuncio comercial para .... (7)

Escutei um noticiáro às .... (8)

O nome da estação foi anunciado às .... (time) com as seguintes palavras "....". (9)

Reconheci um trecho de uma música com titulo .... tocada às .... (time). (10)

Sua transmissão foi encerrada com o hino nacional às .... (time). (11)

Sua estação iniciou a transmissão às .... (time) (12)

Houve uma interrupção na transmissão entre .... e .... (time). (13)

A qualidade do sinal era muito boa/boa/razoável e gostei da programação. Gostei também da música tocada, bastante agradável aliás. (14)

A qualidade do sinal recibido aqui em .... (city) era naturalmente fraca, mesmo assim consegui acompanhar algo do programa. (15)

Havia uma interferencia fraca/forte da Rádio .... transmitindo de .... na frequencia de .... kHz. (16)

Meu receptor é um .... de fabricação japonesa/alemã/americana. Possui um circuito de acordo com o "principio héterodino" e tem "...." (number) de transistores. (17)

A antena é uma (long wire) dipole/antena "loop" de onda média e tem .... metros de extensão e uma altura de .... metros. (18)

Como o sinal da sua transmissão varia de intensidade durante diversos períodos do ano. nem sempre é possivel sintonizá-lo o que é uma pena, principalmente porque a sua emissora oferece excelente música e boas informações. (19)

Ficarei bastante grato se puderem confirmar por escrito que sintonizei a Rádio .... de acordo com os detalhes em anexo. (20)

Gostaría de receber também uma flãmula, se houver, e maiores detalhes sobre a sua programação.

Estea anexando alguns selos novos do seu país como contribuição para as desèsas postais.

Estou anexando $ .... para ajudar a cobrir as despesas com o correio. (21)

Estou incluindo também alguns postais/selos desta parte do mundo que poderão lhes interessar e para lhes dar uma idéia do panorama por aqui .... (22)

.... (Name of your town) fica localizada a uns .... kms ao norte/sul/leste/oeste de .... (name of major city or capital) (23)

Anticepadamente grato pela sua ajuda e aguardo sua resposta para breve. (24)

 

Atenciosamente, (25)

Follow Up

  1. Repeat sentences 1 - 4 then ....
  2. No día .... (date) enviel-lhes os detalhes sobre a qualidade de recepção nesta parte do mundo.
    Como já faz algum tempo e não obtive resposta, acredito que a minha carta deve ter-se extraviada. Por isso incluo os detalhes da recepção naquele día.
  3. Select further numbers as appropriate.

Thank you letter

Prezados senhores:

Desejo agradecer a sua carta (e flãmula) que recebi há alguns dias. Fiquei satisfeito ao receber a confirmacao do meo relatório da sua estação. Faco votos que o sinal da sua emissora continue audivel nesta parte do mundo para que eu possa continuar acompanhando os acontecimentos em seu país.

Obrigado pelo seu interesse.

Atenciosamente,

Conclusions

A good Spanish-English and/or Portuguese-English dictionary is always an asset, but be careful about translating from English into either of those languages. The accents on top or bellow the letters are important.
Don't forget them. Better to take an elementary course in the language if you are really interested in finding out more about the culture of Latin America.

There are some excellent reference books on the subject. Further suggestions are given in our "Booklist" which is kept up-to-date, and a copy is available free of charge.

Mexico & Central America Handbook is the title of a 700 page publication by:
Trade and Travel Publications, 6 Riverside Court, Riverside Road, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA3 2DZ England
Tel: (44) 225 469141. Fax: (44) 225 462921. Price: £12.95 '92 edition in UK.
2nd edition September 91. Mail order accepted, but postage rates extra - details on application.

This is an excellent guide to Mexico & Central America, giving all the background to the areas you can hear on the radio.
There are now separate guides for South Amenica and the Caribbean. lf you listen regularly to this area of the world, this book is an excellent way of putting it in perspective. Useful travel guide. Recommended. Hardback.

Join a DX club, many of which carry a regular section on Latin American Dxing.
The Danish SW Clubs International in Greve Strand, Dermark publish an annual Tropical Bands Survey, which is excellent.


This fourth revised edition was compiled September 1991 by Jonathan Marks. Any feedback, in the form of suggestions for further reading or items you think could be included to make the "LA Guide" more complete are always welcome. Please write to: Media Network, English Department, Radio Netherland, P.O. Box 222, 1200 JG Hilversum, The Netherlands. Publications wishing to reprint or translate this article should contact the above address for permission.

visit Radio Netherlands' website
© Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, December 1991.

Last update: December 11, 2006.

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