I am Hans Ostnell, a 47 years young man who is a Swedish “refugee” now living in Vardo in the arctic part of Norway.
The town of Vardo is actually located on a small island, about 2 kilometers east of the Varanger peninsula in the extreme north of Scandinavia. The population of the Vardo community is just about 2000, but that’s still enough to make the small town on the island pretty crowded. A fun fact of Vardo is that it’s the easternmost point of Norway. Actually, it’s located more east than Istanbul in Turkey(!). Just have a look at the map and see for yourself. Being on an island out in the Barents Sea, on 70,25 degrees North, also makes Vardo the only town in Norway located in the arctic climate zone.
I work as a manager for Vardo radio, which is the coast radio station on Vardo island. Our task is to service the merchant navy and other seafarers with maritime safety information, weather forecasts and assistance in search and rescue operations. When I was offered this job, a dream came true for me. Working with the thing that I enjoy most, radio, is nothing but true luxury to me!
I’m also a ham operator. Amateur radio has been a part of my life since 1990, when I got my first license in Sweden (callsign SM7TUG). Now I’m active from Vardo island, with my norwegian callsign LA2MOA. The thing I enjoy most in amateur radio is looking for DX on the lower bands, i.e. 40, 80 and 160 meters.
I started as a DXer in 1980 when I was 14 years old, and over the years I have heard radio stations on short and medium wave from most countries in the world. I’ve always been interested in DXing the AM Broadcast band and after moving up north to Vardo, I’ve more or less specialized in AM BCB Dxing. The winter nights up here are long and dark, which is ideal for the low frequencies on the AM band. From the end of November to the end of January, the sun is never over the horizon , which means that the AM band is open 24/7. During the summer we have midnight sun for about two months, and the AM band is totally dead during this period.
The town of Vardo isn’t an ideal place for DXing. The urban noise, generated by broadband nets, plasma TV:s and other electronic gadgets that we need in our civilized lives makes hunting for weak radio signals on short and medium wave almost impossible. This is why I do most of my distant radio listening from my car. I’ve found a very electronically quiet place on the northern peninsula of the island, where it’s possible to lay out long wire antennas directly on the ground. This works pretty well, and quite a number of North American, Asian and African AM-stations has found their way into my logbook.
As you can see on the pictures, my “DX-spot” out in the wilderness is a beautiful place (pictures are taken in the end of October). Besides being beautiful, it’s also a bird preservation area, meaning that the peninsula is closed for activities involving cars and very long antenna wires during springtime and early “summer”. I’m writing the word summer within quotation marks, because we really don’t have any real summer up here – there’s only three seasons in Vardo: A long and dark winter, followed by a short and intensive spring which gradually transforms into a long autumn.
Besides DXing on Vardo island, I also have made one DXpedition to Aihkiniemi in northern Finland. This is an amazing place – made by DXers, for DXers. Hosting an antenna farm with at least ten (or more) very long antennas, tailored for AM BCB DXing, Aihkiniemi is a superb place for weak signal-hunting.
73’s from Hans / LA2MOA in Vardo,
The easternmost DXer in Western Europe (I think)