From Yukon to Finland: CBC's radio signal heard from afar

·3 min read

A keen listener has managed to hear CBC Yukon's radio broadcast from about 7,000 kilometres away.

Jorma Mäntylä lives in Kangasala, Finland.

On Oct.15 he was scanning the airwaves and came across the signal from Dawson City, Yukon, broadcasting CBC's Yukon Morning show.

The signal lasted about an hour.

"It was clear to hear your Yukon Morning program led by a female journalist and the morning news," he said.

The host that day was Elyn Jones in Whitehorse.

Upon hearing the signal Mäntylä sent an email with an attached audio clip asking for confirmation.

CBC Yukon wrote him back to confirm what he'd heard. We also scheduled an interview by videoconference to speak about his hobby.

CBC / Google Earth
CBC / Google Earth

No ordinary radio

Mäntylä doesn't have an ordinary radio. He's part of the Suomen Radioamatööriliitto, the Finnish Amateur Radio League.

He started listening to signals in 1967.

He uses custom-built equipment to scan for shortwave and AM radio signals.

Sometimes it takes a while, through the crackle, to determine the language being spoken and from where the signal is broadcasting.

The game is to discover new stations, identify them, and then send an email to confirm the reception.

"I very often listen to foreign radio stations. That has been my hobby for 50 years," he said. 'It's given me interesting moments learning about other cultures and nations,"

Hearing a signal from Yukon is rare. Mäntylä says on Oct. 15 he also heard broadcasts from radio stations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

"Sometimes the reception is very good. That particular day, the signal was very clear," he said.

Mäntylä said Yukon Morning appears to be similar in tone to the Finnish public broadcaster's YLE 's morning program which he enjoys.

Philippe Morin/CBC
Philippe Morin/CBC

Listening for the 'distant unknown'

Hobbyists like this call their pursuit DX. The letters stand for "distant X," or distant unknown.

Members of radio clubs use various antennas and very long wires often strung between trees, which can pick up very faint radio signals on occasion.

Some steel or copper wires can be one kilometre in length.

Over the years Mäntylä has heard signals from as far away as New Zealand. "You can't go any further, it is on the opposite side of the world," he said.

He's also received confirmation cards from around the world including stations in Japan and Israel.

Now he can add CBC North to that list.

"I must say Canada is one of the most DX-friendly countries in the world. Radio stations are very polite and reply to listeners and keep in contact with them," he said.

Canadian signals fading but shows are online

Mäntylä says Canadian signals tend to be strong as stations here are equipped to broadcast across a vast landscape.

However Canadian signals have faded as technology changes. CBC shut down its shortwave broadcasting facility in Sackville N.B. in 2012.

"We can only now and then hear the more powerful AM transmitters of the CBC," he said. Most CBC signals, including CBC Yukon, have also changed from AM to FM across Canada, which brings higher audio quality but less distance.

With the show streaming online, you can tune in to it Monday to Friday from wherever you are.