Summer is over, as I’m typing these lines, but on Medium Wave, in Italy, it’s springtime. Yes, new stations are growing like mushrooms, and it could turn out an interesting exercise for DXers in countries bordering with our (and also in the rest of Europe, why not!). It all started with Radio Studio X, in the Pistoia area (Tuscany), on 1584 kHz, several years ago. This station reigned alone (or almost so, given some very irregular experiments in Verona) for years, and it's still on the air, as you can see below.
Italian authorities doesn’t release licenses for Medium Wave broadcasting (the only authorised presence there is Rai, the national radio, with several transmitters on the whole band), but the law looks like keeping an “open door”, as it mentions “experimental broadcasts”, although without specifying what characteristics have to be fulfiled. So, on that horizon line, even if pretty thin, new stations are venturing. This makes them quite elusive on their set-up, or location, and force to a partial programs grid, but some details have surfaced so far, and many of those have given feedback to listeners.
First one to add its name to the list, a couple years ago, has been Challenger Radio, on 1368 kHz. The main transmitter is at Villa Estense, in Padova, with a 10 kW power. After a long test phase, with mainly children songs on the air, they now have a more rich schedule, including the relay of Voice of America, IRRS, and European Gospel Radio. More recently, Challenger – which on 1368 kHz simply blasts, reaching well outside Italy (see above) – added a second frequency. 1566 kHz. It’s said to be from Rome, but with lower power (1 kW). The night I managed to receive this transmitter (really hard to get in northern Italy, due to a very crowded channel), it was in parallel with 1368. I’ve yet to send my report, but the station do QSL, as it can be shown on this blog. A third transmitter should also have been switched on, always from Rome, on 1575 kHz (with the idea to bring it also, at a later date, on 1566).
Two others stations that started with Challenger – and they even syndicated themselves under the “Progetto AM Italia” insignia (this article tells it all) – are Onda Media Broadcast on 1512 kHz (in the Bologna area), and BroadcastItalia on 1485 kHz. Former is said to relay Voice of Russia in Italian, while latter should offer a variety of programs, as announced on its website (that also streams the signal on the net). The guys in Rome, as shown on this clip, seem to have particular care for the technical side. Further than the new antenna, they also plan a power upgrade from the current 1 to a future 2,5 kW. Bologna tx is reported to put out 1.2 kW. However, I never had a chance to hear these two. Here, 1512 has IRIB Ardabil strong as ever just after sunset kicks in, and 1485 is simply overloaded with Spain (and many other countries). E-qsls have been sent out from BroadcastItalia, and Onda Media has confirmed with an SMS, within 21 minutes, the report of a listener (the phone number is on the site hosting the news).
We then come to more recent birth station. On 1233 kHz (but on Andy Lawendel’s blog a bird tweeted they’ll start/move also on 1305 kHz) you can find Media Veneta Broadcast, that lately changed in Media Veneta Radio. Transmitter is reported, by Herman Boel on his EMWG, to be in Piove di Sacco, near Padova, with a 0.1 kW output. It might be a paradox, but thanks to a quite Europe free channel (with the only exception of Absolute Radio, but hard to hear before darkness) it’s the one I received better in my north-western corner. Transmissions are currently made of 70/80’s non stop music and the station looks to confirm via e-mail (stating also a quarter wave antenna) from the address email@example.com.
The already mentioned 1566 kHz is home also for Radio Kolbe, a religious broadcaster that added AM to its huge offer (including FM, satellite, DVB-T, and Internet). Daytime coverage is provided in the Padova/Vicenza/Verona area, as shown in this map, including also FM tx areas. Night, as usual, increases chances of a reception, but this service is still being experimented at low power (0.5 kW), so it really has to struggle with the many others stations on the frequency. Kolbe has been received in Austria, however. Listeners’ reports have been confirmed by the station’s technical engineer, Mr. Alberto De Pretto, who is also an OM (IW3IJI). E-mail: alberto[at]depretto.it.
Remaining on 1566 kHz, it has to be underlined that some reports are existing for a station named Melody Radio. See, for example, this video (shot in august 2010), and another one here, from last July. The signal is a CQuam stereo, but searches on the net haven’t revealed much on the station. Judging from the daytime reception locations of the two clips, and looking at details given by EMWG, the transmitter should be in Ravenna, with a power of 0.25 kW. QSLs aren’t reported. More than Melody, a mystery!
Last, but only in chronological order, Radiomarina, which is testing on 1071 kHz. Schedule is very erratic. So far, it has been heard mostly during week-ends. The name of the station, along with the picture on the QSL (displaying Goro’s lighthouse), and with the answers received by some listeners, situates this transmitter in the Venezia Province. Radiomarina is using an LPB-Communications AM-150 tx, generating some 150 watts, and a sixty meters long wire antenna. The gear is minimal, but it has to be very well set-up, as at 19 UTC the station has been heard in Ligury, so at a 250 kilometres distance from the transmitter. It remains, anyways, also due to the irregular transmissions, a rare catch. So, should you hear it, don’t hesitate to send your report to radiomarina[at]wifi4all.it.
To make this as complete as possible, the tests started by two stations in Sicily have to be added to the bunch. First one is Radio Poggio Lupo, on 1503 kHz, in the Catania Province, with the other being Radio Gold Italia, on 1593 kHz. These look to have been on the air not that much, but some week-end they did. Check Bclnews.it, from time to time, as it seems the appropriate source for announcements on those.
Now, you’ll agree on Italian MW springtime. For sure, the band here is not dying. To be completely true, however, the main point remain unsolved. We have a bunch of wave adventurers performing “test transmissions” (basically, non stop music with IDs each two songs), with not always coverage linear results (as per the chart opening this story, in Aosta I received just three of all the mentioned stations… and if a signal originating at no more than 300 kms from you gets buried under Iran, something is wrong somewhere!), with regular transmissions start being incognito. Leaving aside the “who pays?” question, one can only wonder which added value to the listeners can be provided by all these “spring gems”. However, that’s another story, as this piece was about reception, and time will tell who’ll resist winter.