Coffee and Radio – with Denis Zoqbi

The following interview of “coffee and Radio Listen”, took place in an emblematic coffee shop, it is none other than Starbucks of “Praca Da Republica”, in São Paulo, Brazil

Our guest today and the Coffee and Radio Listen team, Martin Butera and Photographer Ligia Katze (Martin’s wife)

I confess that the chain of coffee shops, born Seattle USA, is one of my favorite bars and I believe that it is not only for its quality coffee, but for offering what they call a “third place”, that is, a place where customers can take some time off enjoying a good cup of coffee.

Some curious facts are that Starbucks arrived in Brazil in 2006.

The first coffee shop was a store in the Morumbi shopping center in São Paulo, at the beginning Starbucks had to launch a national blend of the best coffee from the Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Bahia region, which was only sold here in Brazil, this was in order to captivate the palates of Brazilians, specialists in drinking good coffee. That blend or blend of coffee continues to be sold to this day.

Starbucks has 122 stores in the country, 54 of them in São Paulo.

It is scientifically proven that having coffee with a friend is one of the best therapies in the world, imagine if we add a talk on radio to that.

Without further ado, let’s get to know the interviewee of this “coffee and Radio Listen”

Coffee and Radio Listen today brings you an interview with Denis Zoqbi

Denis Zobqui and Martin Butera, looking at confirmations and Qsl’s. Photo: Ligia Katze

Here you can listen to the interview of approximately 30 minutes in Portuguese, here is a translation and adaptation to the English language.

Denis Zoqbi, born in the capital of Sao Paulo, is one of the most influential Dxers in Brazil, he became known in Brazilian and Latin American Dxsism for developing a very economical loop antenna with very good reception performance, thanks to that he founded the company called Stars Telecom, a company that has been in Brazil for more than 20 years and has already sold thousands of antennas inside and outside of Brazil.

Denis Zoqbi, with Marcos Pontes, Ham Radio Brasilero (PY0AEB), the first Brazilian astronaut, currently Brazil’s minister of science and technology, in one of the many meetings they shared about astronomy and technology. (Denis Zoqbi)

Denis Zoqbi, is a lover of astronomy, trains people interested in astronomy by teaching different courses at the CASP (Clube de Astronomia de São Paulo), he also collaborates at the IAG USP (Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences). The Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences is one of the main centers research team in Brazil in the areas of Exact and Earth Sciences, with more than 120 years of activity.

Denis Zoqbi, is a colleague and friend of Marcos Pontes, Ham Radio Brasilero (PY0AEB), the first Brazilian astronaut, currently the Minister of Science and Technology of Brazil.

His godparents on the radio (people who took him to the world of radio) were none other than Captain Basilio Baranoff, who was a member of the Brazilian team that initiated the first steps of the Brazilian Space Program in 1965, who died in São Paulo, in 2008. And the Amateurs Radio, Junior Torres de Castro (PY2BJO), internationally known for being the first individual and the only one, to date, to launch its own satellite, called DOVE-OSCAR 17. The satellite, which has just completed 30 years since its launch, was also the first in Brazil dedicated to Radio Amateurs. Mr. Torres, already deceased, also in Sao Paulo in 2018.

Denis Zoqbi, actively participates as a lecturer in different public and private institutions, including AEB (Brazilian Space Agency). He also does it from first editions of Campus Party Brazil (Campus Party Brazil is the Brazilian version of Campus Party, the largest technological experience in the world that takes place around a festival of innovation, creativity, science and entrepreneurship).

He collaborates with visits to the Professor Aristóteles Orsini Planetarium, also known as the Ibirapuera Planetarium, it is a planetarium in the Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo. It was inaugurated in January 1957 and was the first planetarium in Brazil and Latin America.

He also does so at the Pico dos Dias Observatory, located between the municipalities of Brazópolis and Piranguçu, in the state of Minas Gerais, which is operated and maintained by the National Laboratory of Astrophysics. This is located at an altitude of 1,864 m and is one of the largest astronomical observatories in continental Brazil.

Denis Zobqi giving a lecture at Campus Party Brasil (2015). (Denis Zoqbi)
Denis Zoqbi, at AEB (Brazilian Space Agency). (Denis Zoqbi)
Denis Zobqi at Observatorio Pico dos Dias. (Denis Zoqbi)
Denis Zobqui, with his astronomy students at the Pico dos Dias Observatory. (Denis Zoqbi)

This past year his company Stars Telecom, in alliance with several collaborators, designed and assembled a series of Medium Wave Loop antennas that can be used by blind people, with adaptation of tuning buttons and connectors engraved in Braille. These antennas are also accompanied by an orientation manual on how to practice dexism in medium waves in Vox NVDA files.

Denis Zoqbi, happy in his antenna factory. (Denis Zoqbi)
Blind Dxsist, Márcio Coelho, resident of Santo André, São Paulo, Brazil, using their adapted Loop DZ antenna created by Stars Telecom. (Denis Zoqbi)

MB: Denis, how was your first approach to radio, what do you remember from those days, how did you get into radio listening?

I was about ten years old, it was the end of 1984, in those last years I really liked to listen to the radio, my family of European and Lebanese origin, had short wave radio, because the relatives who came to our house listened to radio from abroad, once by chance in my house they changed the furniture and due to those things of fate, a short wave radio remained in my room and there I began to have fun, starting to listen to something.

In 19986 I remember, it was the soccer world cup in Mexico, I never liked soccer, but for about 3 days locked up in my room, listening to the central radio in Moscow, broadcasting in the Portuguese language and that fascinated me and I quickly knew that that was what I wanted for my life.

I remember that that year 1986, there were two things that marked my life forever, one was seeing the Halley Comet pass through São Paulo and the other was just listening to a short wave transmission.

I liked radio so much that I ended up being a radio operator working for AP (The Associated Press), I also developed in the communication area, it was such a strong hobby that it ended up influencing my profession later.

MB: What were the radio stations or programs that most influenced you, in short wave, that I remember you have about that?

With certainty for the time Radio Central Moscow, Radio Canada, BBC and Radio Nederland, those stations were my obligation to listen to them every day, they had very different programming and that was what I wanted, today as a journalist, to have several approaches to the same news, I find it almost impossible.

At that time I listened to a communist radio station in the Soviet state such as Radio Moscow and on the same day I listened, for example, to Radio Canada International, a cultural radio with a neutral ideology, talking about the same thing and that for me was incredible.

MB: When did you make the jump to Dxsism? Or did that never happen? I mean not losing the pleasure of listening to the radio, beyond being a Dxsist, where it seems that it is only important to change a Qsl.

The truth is I always liked the technical part, I was always a faithful radio listener to the stations that I liked and as a Dx player I always liked to listen to what I considered most difficult, we Dx players of the 80’s, we used a phrase which was: “listen to the radio, even the radio bleed”, that meant, throw as much as possible, I listen to a lot of radio and luckily I also met many Radio Amateurs, who showed me the technical part, the electronic part, that made I finished studying electronics, to restore strange radios, thanks to that now I live in the communications area and I also developed a little in the space communications area and all because I am Dxers.

MB: Speaking precisely of the technicalities, now we are enjoying the Qsls that you kindly brought to this cafe. I would like to know which radio station, both small and large, technically attracted you the most?

Well, I had very good listeners, I cannot complain about that, anyway I do not have the characteristic of collecting qsl, I feel happy for just listening to a radio station for me personally and that already reaches me, the Qsls cards It is for me just a complement to that listening done and of course I find it magnificent, that’s why I brought them to share with you, I do not consider that I have such special confirmations, perhaps to mention an important one may be Luxembourg radio, which was a difficult station to listen to here in Sao Paulo, due to local interference and because they were transmitting again in the mid 2000s under test, then I have some countries of the Soviet Union, which were not expected to be heard here in Brazil, because the signals were very weak, but my insistence I can listen to them, that for me is already a very great personal satisfaction.

Denis, in his radio room in Sao Paulo, today is surrounded by the latest technologies in SDR, but also keeps a nice collection of classic receivers, here in a photo where you can see the Realistic DX 160 (also known as Radio Shack DX 160), which brought him one of his best confirmations Rádio Tele Luxembourg, on 6090 khz at a certain moment when the signals of Radio Bandeirantes de São Paulo, were affected by the low propagation of the winter. (Denis Zoqbi)

I also have some listeners from Asian countries, like Laos in short wave, I also did a lot of Dxsism in medium wave, it is something that always attracted me, in medium wave I have some countries in Europe, also the USA, Canada and Africa, for a Brazilian Dxsista , who lives in a city as big as Sao Paulo, that is already a very great personal fulfillment, I live in one of the largest cities in the world, therefore very noisy, anyway I live in a peripheral region that is quite wooded, So I recognize that I have better conditions to do more difficult listening, anyway, living in Sao Paulo and getting to do Dx, is not for everyone.

Denis, with one of his huge antenna projects, for radio listening at his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

MB: When did you start to build large radio antennas and work with more professional receiving equipment?

In the 90s or 91s I had finished taking an electronics course at the monitor institute, which is very well known, very traditional here in Sao Paulo, then I started studying telecommunications and there I began to be interested in more professional equipment, I met Some Radio Amateurs as ham radio friends such as Junior Torres de Castro (PY2BJO)
and Basilio Baranoff, they were very involved in the technical area, I perceived that the local Dxers were not very interested in the technical area, mainly in the antenna area.

MB: Why do you think that the Brazilian Dxers of that time was not interested in antennas?

I think the lack of interest in antennas is due because it takes a lot of work, you have to assemble a lot of prototypes and then they have to test for a long time with the receiver to see if it really works, I ended up liking it and ended up being a designer, then my antennas started to give me better listens and that became more and more involved, I say it was to give sweets for a baby, every time I put together an antenna and it was better than the
previous one I was very happy and that was where the serious Dx began to stay every time more serious.

MB: And how was the Loop DZ born, which I know became a classic? I think here in Brazil it can be said that there are two people who build antennas with very different characteristics: Denis Zoqbi on Loop antennas and René Passold, with its RGP3 ferrite antenna, produced for the DX Clube do Brasil, with which we will have a coffee.

The best known is the medium wave Loop Dz 40 Antenna, which has a 40-centimeter opening and that was because it is the same length as the post box, from the 90s, many people don’t know that was why … Now you know, (laughs), it was to be able to dispatch easier and cheaper.

One of the first models of the Loop DZ antennas, which they still have in their collection today or are still in use, used by Brazilian listeners, were handcrafted in top quality Canadian cedar wood. In the following link, there is a complete report on the development of this antenna http://www.sarmento.eng.br/LoopQuadroOM.htm

With that antenna I began to listen to medium wave, more professionally when we had medium wave stations propagating all over South America, Europe, Africa and the United States, at that time I was so excited that I began to loop bigger and bigger, the more Big one that comes together, I call from super loop and it has more than 4 Mts of area, currently I can say that I have the largest fixed loop antenna in use today in the southern cone for radio listening.

At the end of the 90s I was working in the editorial office of a magazine and I had had to cover the paris dakar, the motorcycle race and I had to assemble an armored antenna to be able to listen to the radio, precisely morocco that transmitted in short wave, I really needed not Just as a hobbyist Dx player to listen to those radios, if not for my work, I even needed to listen at the worst possible times, so it was that with friendly people from the technology area I developed a prototype model, of course the loop antenna is not my creation, The loops come from the Second World War, I managed to reach a final finish that is portable, has a lot of gain and can have several bands with the same antenna, so you can hear tropical waves, like all wave bands short with the same antenna.

The armored loop then emerged in 1997/98 and is still on the market today.

MB: Do you keep track of how many antennas you have already sold?

More than 4 thousand, I make distributions with other radio sales companies for the whole world, only for Europe I think that we already sold about 1,500 antennas, regardless of whether the antenna is sold or not, which for me was born as a hobby and knowing that now I can be helping other people with the same hobby, which gave me so much, to listen to the radio better and at a low cost, that for me brings great satisfaction and that makes me feel that I really did something for the hobby.

MB: How do you see the future of shortwave, mixed with so much technology, for example the internet?

When I started in radio in the 80s, people already at that time said that listening to the radio was a hobby that did not bring anything for anyone, but already at that time I knew that this was a wrong statement, I listened to the fall of the power of Gorbachev, I listened to Boris Léltsin celebrate the fall of the Supreme Soviet, I listened to countries being transformed, for example Armenia, so I believe that being a Dxsist, first of all, brought me knowledge that other hobbies would not bring.

The radio, like any technological device, ended up adapting to new technologies. The Dxsista that starts today who thinks that he is going to listen to the radio, without using a better quality antenna, without using professional radio equipment that manages to reduce electrical interference that today is a great global problem, without that he will only Listening to radio in a conventional way will not be able to do Dx today, now if it is updated in all the new technological factors that are available today, such as having good software with SDR, the radio will have a future.

A phone network fails, a satellite fails, the internet fails, but the radio does not fail.

We still have space systems, data telecommunications, packet radio, data transmissions via satellite. And the security system ends up being a Radio Amateurs radio environment, because the radio system is infallible, you will have specific propagation times, specific times for each band, the radio as a communication system does not fail. The internet can be sabotaged, so the radio will never die and in our hobby if the new Dxsista or the one who was from before knows how to use the new available technologies, I have the absolute certainty that we still have a lot of hobbies for a long, long time.

When I was little, I remember that there were already people trying to capture satellites or TV from other regions, today I am in the range between 40 and 50 years old, and now you have in your hand a cell phone that captures satellites via applications, that’s not be Dxers, but through these applications you get access to different means of communication, and break some barriers. Of course, large companies continue to manufacture reception equipment such as Yaesu, Icom, JRC, etc., but you can use a cell phone to get into an SDR and you can also do something.

MB: So from what you tell me, the hobby is not going to die, but it requires an effort from the Dxers as well?

If the Dxers today needs to get out of the comfort zone, it is essential for what we call a hobby to be really very active, nowadays we see how in the United States and Europe, people who listen to the radio, with conventional equipment and take many advantages, only that they managed to improve their antennas, better the filters, place noise cancellers, so that the hobby continues to be active.

MB: These coffee interviews are for readers, generally outside of Brazil, what do you think as a Brazilian, what look do you think they have of the Brazilian Dxers, technically speaking and of course personal capacity?

Well, I think, not just Brazilian, if I can’t give you a look at Latin Dxsism, it’s very different from the European or North American or Japanese, mainly because of access to the equipment, if the Dxsista is not Amateurs Radio, they are usually used to it. to listen to the radio with the most common equipment.

Now if it is Amaterus Radio, in general, it turns to Dxsism with better teams and Brazil there because of a population issue that we have many people, we have an advantage, because there are more.

Although this also happens in countries of South America with populations not as large as Argentina and Chile that had access to good technology equipment, although they are old, in other Latin countries they do not even arrive, due to different political and economic problems.

I think the Brazilian manages to take advantage of what he has as equipment.

Now a European has a different way of having access to more equipment and a continent with small countries next to each other, it allows us to listen to many things in a more conventional way and I think winter is very important, because they have very harsh winters and they stay at home listening to radios.

Countering that, here in almost all Latin countries, we had dictatorships of all kinds, so there was a need to turn to the radio to find out. I think that the great boom was precisely because of that, radio listening was in the 70s and 80s where being informed was vital, happily those dictatorships almost no longer exist.

I believe that the view that Brazilians and Latinos have of us is that we do a fairly simple Dxing, quite honest, but of a very good level, because we do difficult listening, in modest conditions, not necessarily precarious.

MB: Lastly, Denis, I always leave a space in case you want to add something else?

If let me add, I think that people who like this hobby have to experience this passion, there are many people who say that the world is changing, but if you do nothing to be part of this transformation, you will continue to agree. life transform and it will not be part of that.

The Dxers has precisely this tool, with the radio, the possibility of listening to the whole world, it manages to listen to the most absurd things, the most exotic countries, I remember now that in the 90s, the difficulty I had of waking up super early, to hear for example Papua New Guinea for the 4 thousand and so kilohertz, but it was a personal sensation of hearing the inaudible and that is one thing that has to exist in today’s Dxsists.

I repeat if people want to listen to the radio, but if they do not leave their comfort zone they will hardly get more of the same.

Today large stations are going off the air, for different problems, these can be economic, lack of interest of the audiences, etc. you no longer have major transmitters for the world, but there are still other radios, the world is in transformation, radio is in transformation.

Here in Brazil we are experiencing what happened to the United States 20 years ago, the big AM stations are shutting down to start broadcasting on FM regionally.

Many here in Brazil believe that radio is dying, I nevertheless think that the audiences in Brazil are ceasing to be attended, but on the other hand the blackout of these stations now benefits that you can listen to other things that were impossible before, because of the interference that these large stations cause.

This year I listened to an Iranian station on 891 Khz months ago, the radio Gazeta de São Paulo, it went off the air, it operated at 890 Khz, it was sad I am very sorry for the audience of the gazette of Sao Paulo, but as a result I am Brazilian I went to listen to a different radio station, with the blackout we started to listen to radio signals, the more distant the more difficult the Dxing is that, being able to receive more even if it is in the worst possible way, so I repeat it once more if the Dxer does not lose focus by listening to the inaudible, Dxsism will continue for many years.

Thus ends this complete and very interesting coffee talk, with one of the most influential Brazilian Dxers on the South American scene.

Denis and Martin closing a pleasant coffee chat. Photo: Ligia Katze

Here are some QSLs, from the magic folder that Denis Zoqbi brought. Enjoy!

Martin Butera, special article for Radio Heritage Foundation 2022


What is Coffee and Radio?

Coffee and Radio is an exploration of Brazilian radio listeners.

How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to their radio listening both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.

About the Author

Martin Butera (PT2061SWL) is an Amateur Radio operator with more than 30 years of experience and has participated in DXpeditions throughout South America, under the Argentine radio callsign LU9EFO and Brazilian callsign PT2ZDX.

He collaborates for several newsletters and magazines, covering world radio, he is our accredited collaborator in South America for the Radio Heritage Foundation, he is also the founder of the Brazilian CREW Radio Oyentes, known as 15 punto 61 (15.61), now simply called 61 CREW.

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

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