When I moved to the east coast (of England) in 2010, I had expected my reception of exotic East
Asian stations to be somewhat better than it was back at my Nottinghamshire home. I’d only ever
heard countries like China, Taiwan and South Korea on the old Matlock Forest DX trips I used to
enjoy with Tim Bucknall. Even then, most of the signals on our 300m BOG (Beverage-On-the-
Ground) were very weak, such that you would often only be able to hear the time pips penetrating
the noise. This was between 2008/2009 when the medium wave was a very different band. Those
European powerhouses were still on the air and blasting out 100s of kilowatts on many frequencies
and DXing the Far East from home was difficult.
Today, we have lost many of those high powered, ever-splattering signals, together with a lot of
other, lower-powered European stations. Many BBC and independent local radio sites across the
UK have left the band in recent years. The band is relatively empty when compared to what it was
then and this should allow DXers in and around the UK and Europe to take advantage of the lesscongested
medium wave band. The UK, Spain and Romania probably play the biggest part in
broadcasting across the medium wave band today, but there are several empty frequencies we can
take advantage of.
In this article we will be looking at some of the easiest DX targets you should be able to receive
from the Far East, given the right conditions of course. Even a relatively simple receiver/antenna
setup should be able to receive some of these. We will also take a look at what time to listen.
Quiet or slightly unsettled geomagnetic conditions are the best for DXing East Asia, but even when
the indices are relatively high and Japan and South Korea aren’t coming through, I can still receive
the nearer parts of mainland China here in eastern England without too much difficulty.
The best time to listen is an hour or two before local sunset, which should allow you to hear signals
from the Far East before the more usual European and Middle Eastern station begin to make their
Don’t let the distances put you off! The nearest and most consistently received of all the East
Asians I receive is China Radio International on 1521. This is from the powerful Urumqi
transmitter which is 6129km from me, equal to the distance of stations from central USA and
Canada, but some of these East Asians carry a lot of power and can be heard without too much
difficulty. Moving further afield, Japan is further than anything in the USA or Canada for me, yet
some of the signals are heard with surprising regularity and clarity, again, given the right
conditions. Stations from the Philippines and Vietnam heard here exceed 10,000 km!
When listening for East Asian stations, one of the first things you may notice is their hourly time
pips. These are often the first indication that you are receiving something from that that part of the
world since those time pips are like Morse code, in that they penetrate their way through the noise
and co-channel pile-ups. They may also give you a good idea which country you are receiving.
China tend to use the same six pips thus: http://www.intervalsignals.net/Files/chn-zcnr1_280802.m3u
South Korea usually have four pips on their national broadcasts and can be
heard here: https://app.box.com/s/d7xm37ra9a3isko5fp0pypm0hln26446 Japan’s time pips vary
enormously. They can have a single time pip and at a different pitch, some have three pips and
others four. NHK1 have four standardised time pips and are virtually identical to those of South
Korea. You would be hard pressed to differentiate between the two.
Not all Chinese, South Korean or Japanese stations I have received broadcast time pips on the hour.
In rare instances, as in the case of a Chinese station I received on 1251 kHz. This month, their time
pips sounded similar to those of a Japanese station. So don’t assume the identity of a station by time
pips alone, but they should give you a good place to start.
For me, there have always been two obstacles when trying to identify stations from the Far East:
Recognising the language and knowing how each station identified itself. Firstly, let’s look at the
To begin with, if you have a recording of an unidentified station, try to compare to the recordings
on intervalsignals.net Not only will you hear interval signals from around the world, but this site
has a wealth of recordings of top of the hour identifications from international, national and local
broadcasters from most countries where you will be able to compare languages. Many of these
recordings are vintage but you may even be lucky enough to find an ID you have heard yourself.
These days, many DXers have their own channel on Youtube, including myself, where they upload
recordings of their DX catches, so you may be able to search out the stations you have received for
Now let’s analyse station identifications from the most commonly received East Asian stations here
on the east coast of the UK.
594 J JOAK NHK Radio 1, Shobu https://youtu.be/VzcRbMGqtqE
612 J JOLK NHK Radio 1, Fukuoka. https://app.box.com/s/my37rmunoefahydz8rctcpkosm1tkv1s
711 TWN BEC72 Han Sheng GD Kuanghua Zhi Sheng, Hsinfeng https://youtu.be/Fh2BYu5Y83I
900 CHN CNR 2 Jingji zhi Sheng, Golmud. https://youtu.be/cJ-goAii8fg
972 KOR HLCA KBS Hanminjok Bangsong 1,
981 TWN BEC70 Han Sheng GD Kuanghua Zhi
1143 TWN BEL3 Taiwan Chü Yuyeh Kuangpo Tientai (Taiwan Fisheries), Baisha
https://youtu.be/Vh6pNJvX3-Y (Mixing with Radio Free Korea, Deogyang-gu)
1278 J JOFR RKB Mainichi Hoso, Fukuoka https://youtu.be/dAQ_GvsHgzg
1377 CHN CNR 1, Xingyang https://youtu.be/cRgPvEIyfm4
1521 CHN China Radio International (Russian Service), Urumqi
1566 KOR HLAZ FEBC, Cheju Island https://youtu.be/WAwysnPCuYc
1575 THA Voice of America Ban Phachi https://youtu.be/BPu0lPlb1kU
These are just for starters. Once you become familiar with the general style of
programming of these stations, you will hopefully find yourself recognising East Asian stations on
The following are slightly harder to receive and less regular:
594 PHL DZBB Obando https://youtu.be/HJFR9LXoMek
666 PHL DZRH News, Valenzuela https://youtu.be/90esLRfo7Bo
702 CHN Jiangsu RGD Xinwen Pinlu, Nanjing https://youtu.be/ZmAcDWHXfX8
729 VTN Voice Of Vietnam 2, Dong Hoi (Early morning exercises!)
819 KRE KCBS Chosun Jungang Pangsong, Pyongyang (Under Egypt)
891 THA Sor Wor Thor (Radio Thailand), Saraburi https://youtu.be/NSsj8BkgfE4
1017 CHN China Radio International, Changchun
1116 CHN CNR5 Zhonghua zhi Sheng, Shaowu. https://youtu.be/OO9P86TotQ0
1134 KOR HLKC KBS 3, Hwaseong https://youtu.be/LeJYCEoMjUg
1170 KOR HLSR KBS Hanminjok Bangsong 2, Gimje https://youtu.be/l3UIPM5lG7s
1242 J JOLF NBS Nippon Hoso, Tokyo https://youtu.be/Kz2RIzGZHlE
1233 CHN Sinjanniin Mongoliin Ardiin Radio, Urumqi https://youtu.be/i_Ior3IGpgQ
Some more useful tips:
1359 is an interesting frequency as it’s quite empty here in the UK. Listen for those Chinese time
pips on the top of the hour. If you can hear these then you will know that your setup is more than
adequate for receiving the Far East. But if you don’t hear anything, try again another day. 1359 is
something of a graveyard for lower powered CNR1 outlets and there is nothing more powerful than
10kW. I can usually hear several of these simultaneously almost every day, generating their own
You might want to try for something more exotic. Check 891 on the hour around sunset for the BCC Local network in Tainan,
Taiwan at just 10kW. The BCC networks have a distinctive, noise-penetrating jingle each hour which you can hear here:
https://app.box.com/s/vdsb0i52y9fnuylxgx95321vmg9th99e 1017 and 12996 are two other regular BCC frequencies I receive.
Check for the Philippines on 594 DZBB, they regularly make use of the “D Zee Double B” identification. Although this is the first season I have received this station, it has been surprisingly regular this month.
What about Vietnam on 1242? At 10,242km distance, it sounds like an unlikely catch, but if you can see their carrier, which currently sits at 1242.004, you will be able to see if their signal peaks up sufficiently to hear their audio – and it often does. At 500kW it can produce decent signals and rises up above co-channel Oman.
Kampuchea can be another regular visitor on 918 kHz. This carries 600kW and is often reported
throughout the UK and Europe in the winter months and can be heard mixing with the Dutch
stations on the frequency.
The surprise visitor to the band here this season was Indonesia. 1251 carries RRI Pro 4 from Banda Aceh, one of the closest parts of the islands at 9885km. I had never received Indonesia on any band before this. I heard their interval signal on September 12th this year. It wasn’t easy as this is only 10kW, but the distinctive jingly interval signal could be heard in my headphones that
evening before 22:00 – and my flag antenna was pointing towards North America at the time! I haven’t heard them since and my flag is now pointing towards them, but this demonstrates just what can happen if you are lucky in timing things just right.
Concluding, DXing eastern Asia has given me one of the most challenging yet highly rewarding and enjoyable aspects of my entire DXing hobby. I am lucky to live on the right coast for this, but DXers in southern and western parts of the UK have also received many of these exotic catches. It’s still about being in the right place at the right time. There’s no need to worry about the language barriers either. Sending a recording of your DX catches to your friendly radio club may result in some surprise identification. Keeping a recording is akin to an official station verification for me. I keep a copy of just about everything I have received. Having an SDR receiver helps of course, but always keep recorder running, just in case. One day, you may discover something quite exotic.
John Faulkner, Skegness and Long Sutton, Lincolnshire.