I Admit To Being A DX’er
I started DXing as a young boy. I am not sure how it started, but recall that I found it fun and something I could do by myself out in the country where I grew up. I could DX for hours, and never get bored. Often at night I would DX in the darkness of my bedroom when everyone else was asleep. It just was easier to DX at night. I even kept a journal of my DXing. I told my friends about it, but they thought it strange and wanted no part of being a DXer. In fact, they were not sure that what I told them about my DXing was even true.
I wonder how many of my readers are racing to goggle the definition for DXing right about now? It really is not as racy as some might imagine from my first paragraph.
I write this post because the genealogy research that goes on in our home all the time has uncovered a DX’er in James’ family from 1922. Not only do we know of his fondness for DXing but have his journals to prove it.
George Rowe, James’ second great grandfather, (pictured above) a sheep farmer and retired school teacher would sit by the amber glow of his radio, newly acquired in 1922, and tune the dial to hear the voices of places far removed from his home in Charleston, Maine, in the heart of Penobscot County. Trying to pick up radio stations far away started with folks such as Rowe while listening to the AM radio band. Back in the early days of radio, (1920’s) radio stations were not sure how far their signals reached and so asked listeners to send in reports of when and where the station’s signal was heard. The station would then send out postcards to the listeners. It was from this beginning that DXing was born.
While seated at his radio George Rowe would hear broadcasts from the First Universalist Church in Bangor, Maine or the University of Maine at Orono. But I can imagine his face when he was able to tune in Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, and Maryland. But then imagine his face when his radio picked up London, England! I truly would have enjoyed being with him at that moment. Talk about two kids in the same room! His journals, like the page printed here demonstrate the pleasure that he found while searching for radio stations.
There is an absence of awe today about radio signals from far away that can be heard on a radio given that television has live video signals from the other side of the globe, and the internet can transmit all sorts of information almost instantaneously. I am glad that I was born at a time when the late night adventure of radio station hunting was something that was of interest to me. Though I never knew George Rowe of course, there is a link that connects us via the magic of radio and DXing. I wonder if anyone will blog about my radio journals in 80 years?
Rowe was born in 1860, at the start of the Civil War, and would have had parents who heard about the war from newspapers and chats at the local grocery store in Maine. He would grow up to hear about events from across the ocean on a radio. If anyone were to write of my journals many decades from now I wonder what the method might be?
As a younger man I turned my fascination of radio waves into a broadcasting job. I thought often as I sat at WDOR Radio in the heart of Door County, of who was hearing my voice, and where they were located. At times the station would receive a card or letter from someone who heard the signal in places that seemed impossible. Those signals being heard then was also due to a ‘skip’ in the atmosphere. But nothing could compare to the nights when Rowe would listen in Maine and hear the radio waves dance their way to his 1922 radio. Those were indeed the magic years!