A site about the radio listening hobby and my activities therein - longwave, mediumwave, shortwave, FM, and television DXing. A site about the radio listening hobby in all its forms, or at least the forms that interest me.

I am also a licenced amateur radio operator, callsign VE3LXL. Information about my amateur radio station is found on my station website.

Friday, 29 July 2011

FM: Islamic Prayers on 87.9 MHz

Today I came across an unlicenced radio station at the bottom end of the FM band, on 87.9 MHz. As soon as you hear a station broadcasting on 87.9 you know it's an unlicenced station because there is only one station in North America licenced to broadcast on this frequency (10 watt KSFH in California).

An unlicenced station is not necessarily transmitting illegally. It is legal to broadcast on FM without a licence at very low power but the range is very limited - a few tens or hundreds of metres at most. That's how those little "talking house" or business broadcasters, and those tiny FM transmitters you can buy for use around the house or in your car are legal.

Stations that transmit illegally are usually called pirate stations. In most big cities, unlicenced stations operating at illegal power levels appear occasionally on empty frequencies. That's what I think I heard today.

Details: 87.9 MHz at 02:40 to 02:56 UTC (10:40 p.m. July 28 local time). Fairly good signal. No talking or announcements. It was broadcasting what I think were Islamic prayers - sounded like a solo voice half-singing in Arabic. Went off air at 02:56.

I googled for information about this and found two references from a year ago in Glenn Hauser's DX Listening Digest about an Islamic pirate station in Toronto on 87.9:
  • DX LISTENING DIGEST 10-12, March 26, 2010: "On Air: ON, Toronto, 87.9, a pirate with prayers in Arabic from the Scarborough Muslim Assocation at the Jame Bakr Siddique Masjid, heard at 74 km. Industry Canada has been notified (FMedia! Final Issue 2009-2010 via DXLD)"
  • DX LISTENING DIGEST 10-16, April 22, 2010: "87.9 - Islamic prayers and talk, in mono, seems to originate from the city's northwest quadrant, perhaps in Etobicoke, Brampton or Mississauga. It carries well over a large area, despite adjacent 88.1 CKLN in downtown Toronto. I am guessing something in the order of 50 watts."
I count pirates in my log counts, so this brings the Toronto FM count to 152 and the overall FM count to 373.

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