Summary of the Sixth Annual Conference Of Mexican DXers
Article By Jeff White
The sixth annual Meeting (or "Encuentro," as they call it in Spanish) of Mexican DXers and Shortwave Listeners, held August 4-6 in the southern city of Oaxaca, was almost a "sacred" experience. It took place in the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, which is part of the ex-Convent of Santo Domingo, located immediately adjacent to the famous Santo Domingo Church, one of the most spectacular colonial churches in Oaxaca and all of Mexico. The Cultural Center now houses a modern art museum, and if you walked through the museum area, around an inner courtyard, through another doorway and down a flight of stairs you would come to the air-conditioned, almost cave-like meeting hall where the shortwave event took place.
It was really a miracle that this meeting took place at all. At last year's Mexican National DX Meeting in August of 1999, the member clubs voted to accept Gerardo Iraizos' bid to hold the 2000 Meeting in Oaxaca. Tragically, less than two weeks after the 1999 meeting ended, Gerardo Iraizos was killed in a traffic accident. But the Iraizos family -- some of whom are also shortwave listeners -- soon announced that they were determined to organize the Oaxaca DX meeting in 2000 as a memorial to Gerardo. Several family members participated in the organization, including Gerardo's son Amilcar in Oaxaca and his son Martin and daughter-in-law Thalia in Mexico City.
In the end, over 70 persons from throughout Mexico and as far away as New York, Denmark and Ecuador attended the event. The Santo Domingo Cultural Center is located in the downtown historical district of Oaxaca, not far from the bustling "zocalo," or main plaza, which is surrounded by the Cathedral, hotels, small stores and outdoor restaurants. Especially at night, the zocalo comes alive with marimba and mariachi music, religious celebrations and vendors selling a wide variety of handicrafts from around Oaxaca, such as the famous black ceramic pottery of the region.
Most of the meeting participants made their way to Oaxaca on Friday, arriving in time for the late-afternoon opening sessions. Rafael Grajeda, of the Veracruz-based Society of Radio-listening Engineers (SIR), gave a presentation about aeronautical utility station DXing. This was followed by a philosophical lecture about the meaning of radio by Cesar Fernandez, president of the SIR. At night, the action shifted mostly to the zocalo, with some persons attending an impressive show of folkloric music and dance from around the state of Oaxaca at the Monte Alban Hotel.
On Saturday morning, the first speaker was Pepe Gonzalez, a well-known DXer and singer of children's songs, who unveiled his new book about the history of shortwave radio in Mexico. An impressive guide full of history, data and pictures, the book is the only one of its kind and has instantly become an important historical archive. (More information on how to obtain the book -- which costs about US$7 -- is available from Pepe Gonzalez by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.) Other presentations on Saturday morning were by the director of Radio Educación (about their experience with separate programming on the AM and shortwave frequencies of the station) and Radio Miami International (a video of our recent visit to international broadcasters throughout Asia). Next was a walking tour to the nearby Philatelic Museum of Oaxaca, the only one of its kind in Mexico. The director, Alejandra Mora, gave DXers a personal tour of the museum, pointing out that DXers use the international mail services so much that they often become stamp collectors as well.
After a break for lunch, Roger Chambers -- a U.S. DXer from New York -- spoke about the DX Edge and tropical band DXing. Then Allen Graham, host of the popular DX Partyline program on HCJB Radio in Quito, Ecuador, talked about developments at his station. The final presentation of the day was in English (with simultaneous translation into Spanish) by Anker Petersen of the Danish Shortwave Club International, who told the Mexican DXers about the Danish club's experiences with the Internet and its influence on shortwave clubs. His message was clear: In Europe, DXers have more and more access to the Internet and they are spending more and more time on it. A wealth of timely DX information is available for free on Internet sites maintained by clubs and stations, and DX clubs have found it necessary to produce electronic DX bulletins in addition to their printed publications. This seems to be the wave of the near future in Europe, but it may be quite some time before regular Internet access by most Mexican DXers becomes commonplace.
Several broadcasters donated souvenir items to a raffle which was held. The local Radio Shack store, which had an exhibit booth at the Encuentro, donated a shortwave receiver to the raffle as the grand prize. The winner was Porfirio Mendez, head of "DX-Istmo," a club based in the Istmo region of southern Oaxaca state. And DX-Istmo became the newest member (#5) of the Mexican DX clubs which organize these annual Encuentros. The day ended with a "DX Night" where participants brought their shortwave receivers and pulled in some exotic stations from Africa among other places.
After a late night of DXing, the meeting participants continued Sunday morning with a talk by Julian Santiago of Mexico City about a new Spanish-language DX program he is hosting on the shortwave frequency of Radio Mil (6105 kHz) ** (EditorŐs Note: Correct frequency is 6010 kHz) ** and about some audience research he has been doing. More meaty issues were tackled in a presentation about the challenge of getting more women interested in shortwave listening, and representatives of Radio Mexico International talked about the future of shortwave broadcasting and their campaign to promote awareness of shortwave radio among the general public in Mexico. Dramatically, just as the meeting was coming to an end, an e-mail message was received from Jose Ruben Rivera in Guanajuato (some 360 kilometers northwest of Mexico City) accepting the organization of the Seventh Meeting of Mexican DXers and Shortwave Listeners, to be held in his city in August of 2001. Guanajuato, he explained, is another colonial town rich with cultural treasures, museums, churches and much more items of interest to the tourist.
After the official closing of the Meeting, a majority of the attendees stayed on to take a four-hour bus tour to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban on the outskirts of Oaxaca. One could marvel at the pyramids, tombs and ball courts composing this city which flourished from around 700 BC to 700 AD. And it was certainly enjoyable to tour this piece of history together with radio colleagues from throughout Mexico and beyond. In fact, it is the human contact which is generally the most enjoyable aspect of these Mexican national DX meetings. Beyond the seminars and lectures, the personal contact creates friendships that last for many years. Most of those who attend the Mexican DX meetings have very limited financial resources. Some spend several weeks' worth of salary to travel to the event, showing their great dedication to the hobby. Until now, there has never been a registration fee for the Encuentros; everyone just pays their own transportation, lodging and meals. Local governments have provided the meeting places free of charge or at very low cost, and the organizers have paid most of the expenses out of their own pockets. That will change next year, as the clubs voted to institute a 50-peso-per-person registration fee. (That's about 5 U.S. dollars.)
More details should be available
about the Encuentro 2001 in Guanajuato during the next few months. Those who would like to
receive complete details when they become available can send an e-mail to: email@example.com. (As for this year's Encuentro, Radio Netherlands' Spanish-language DX program "Radio Enlace" broadcast a complete report on its September 1 edition, repeated September 3. In addition, Allen Graham is presented a special DX Partyline devoted to this conference on August 26)