The Lonely 49 Meter Canadians

It's been many years since I've cruised through the SW broadcast bands but of late I've had a yen to tune through some of the low band frequencies ... 5-6MHz. In searching some of the helpful online frequency references, the Short- wave info site in particular, I was reminded of Canada's tiny voice still whispering away on shortwave, even after the demise of Radio Canada's shortwave presence in 2012.

Apparently there is still activity coming from CKZU (6160KHz), CKZN (also on 6160KHz), CFVP (6030KHz) and CFRX (6070KHz). These are all low-powered (100-1000W) relays of local AM station content and make for interesting DX targets for listeners.

The nearest to me, CKZU, is directly across Georgia Straight and line-of-sight from me. It relays the local AM-band powerhouse, CBU-690. Needless to say its signal is very strong.

courtesy: https://maps.google.ca/

With its antenna system located on the mudflats of Richmond (Steveston), near Vancouver, it should get out pretty well despite its 500W power limit.

courtesy: https://maps.google.ca/     

The antenna system, I am told, consists of a four pole (wood) support for a two-element wire beam of sorts ... one element being the dipole driven-element and the other a reflector. From the looks of the orientation I would say that it is beaming south-east towards the central USA.

Are you able to here CKZU on 6160 from your location? Its overwhelming strength here blocks any chance for me to hear its east-coast cousin, CKZN in St. John's, Newfoundland, rebroadcasting local CBN. If you are in the eastern half of the continent, perhaps you are able to here CKZN's 300W signal?

CFVP is in Calgary and relays local CKMX on 6030 at just 100W. I can hear a carrier there in the daytime but long before my local sunset the frequency becomes dominated by Radio Marti (in Spanish) from Florida ... perhaps you can do better from your location.


Lastly is CFRX, relaying CFRB from the city of Toronto, on 6070. This gets out well and is heard here even before local sunset at 1000W.



It appears that most of these stations have, at one time or another, been slated for decommissioning, and have only been saved by the dedication of station engineers who basically maintain these on their own time, with station owners paying the rent and electricity bills.

Please let me know if you are able to hear any of the 'lonely' Canadians on 49 meters.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “The Lonely 49 Meter Canadians”

  • Richard KWøU:

    CFRX blasts into Minnesota–just got a QSL from them. Been trying to hear the others for years. Have had more success in visiting most of your beautiful country.

  • Hans (BX2ABT):

    I have heard CKZU here in Taiwan in 1999, but tentatively because no ID heard. Should try it again, but nowadays tuning the broadcast bands makes me very sad. Apart from CRI there is not much going on here. Even Radio Australia has all but gone and until recently I used to listen to them a lot when I was in the shack. Quite depressing that I have to “tune” to the internet for my radio needs nowadays.

  • Steve VE7SL:

    Both CFRX and CKZU seem to get out well, considering their power level. CFVP in Calgary appears to get out very poorly. It was reported yesterday, to be on-the-air, being heard be VE6XBM and another listener using a remote Perseus located in Alberta. The signal is not strong so I suspect that their 100W tx or antenna system is in need of a check. I can see their carrier fading up and down all day here in BC, on my Perseus waterfall but at around 2100z Radio Marti comes on, a few Hz lower than CFVP and pretty well dominates the frequency for the rest of the day and night.

    Hans – don’t give-up on the SW BCB yet…tuning through 49m here shows a LOT of activity. Once the active geomagnetic conditions calm down, I intend to do a complete scan of 49m here in the evening…hopefully before the summer thunderstorms don’t cause too much QRM.

    Steve 73

  • John KX5JT:

    I do hear CFRX on from Toronto from my south Louisiana QTH very well on most nights. I really enjoy it from time to time and now I will listen for the others you have mentioned. I think it’s a great idea to have a sister shortwave station!

    1000 Watts of carrier on a clear shortwave frequency can be most impressive. I enjoy the AM mode in the ham bands and with the U.S. 1500 watt pep limit, this means AM operators that utilize 100% modulation can run up to 375 watts carrier. Even 100 watts of carrier on 80 meters during the dark winter months can be “full quieting” armchair copy with excellent audio. Sure is much more pleasant than the SSB.

  • Steve VE7SL:

    I agree John….long live AM! …and CW, of course. Nothing sounds nicer than a beautiful rich AM signal. I have a ham friend who spent his entire working career in professional audio….he could listen to any signal and tell you what was right and what was wrong. He astounded me (as well as himself) when he heard what he described as “the best-sounding AM signal I have ever heard” ….which turned out to be coming from a small FLEX SDR trcvr…. who needs modulation transformers anymore!

  • KA5NRP:

    Yup,
    Got my hands on an old tube multiband receiver and gave it a complete restoration on 6/18/15. Connected a short 6 foot (2 meter) piece of wire as an antenna and when I scrolled through the 49 meter band, CFRX on 6070 KHz jumped out loud and clear. Got a positive ID and repeated mentions of Toronto and surrounding communities. Signal was very listenable and that transmitter is obviously well maintained and well modulated. My reception location was East Coast along the Delaware Bay (USA) during the midday. I remember listening to CFCX on 6005 KHz back in the 60’s and 70’s at the same location. CFCX rebroadcast CFCF (AM) 600 KHz in Montreal at that time with what I believe was only 75 watts into a short vertical tower. At one point CFCX was 500 watts but for the last few years transmitted with 75 watts before eventually terminating operation. With only 75 watts, the signal was usable over 500 miles out during daytime hours until foreign SW powerhouse transmitters took over the 49 meter band as evening approached. I also recall listening to another 49 meter station out of Halifax, NS that had an excellent 1000 watt signal a few decades back. The SW International broadcast bands are definitely quieter now.

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