Obtaining QSLs from AM broadcast stations?


SWLing Post reader, Paul Grodkowski, writes:

“Just a quick question to anyone at the SWLing Post:

Is the practice of sending a reception report to a AM broadcast station in return for a QSL card still accepted in the age of the internet ?

So many stations are broadcasting online now that I wonder if they have QSL cards at all?

I just want to keep up with the times and not bother busy people at radio stations and look out of date, yet at the same time would like to confirm report of reception.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.”

Thanks for your question, Paul! I’m no expert on AM broadcast QSLing, but I’m pretty sure many mediumwave stations still respond to listener reports. Indeed, I believe there are even radio enthusiasts who act as QSL managers of larger clear channel stations (CFZM comes to mind).

Of course, one brilliant resource for all things MW DX is the National Radio Club (NRC).

Readers: Can you help answer Paul’s question? Please comment. Also, if you have some AM broadcast QSL cards, please contact me as I would love to post some.

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13 thoughts on “Obtaining QSLs from AM broadcast stations?

  1. Jack Blanke

    I have the same question!! Been wanting to send some sig reports to some am stations, but I am not aware that qsl’ing is even observed any more. Would like to hear more about this topic.

    1. Brian, W9IND

      If you’re still interested in getting QSL cards from AM radio stations, I’d suggest starting with CFRB, 1010-AM in Toronto, whose QSLs are handled by the Ontario DX Association.

      Its signal covers much of the United States at night, and as a bonus, you can try for its simulcasting shortwave sister, CFRX on 6.070 MHz, which QSLs in the same way.

      Obtaining both cards is as easy as it gets.

  2. Bill

    I’m Bill from the State of Montana. I’ve was into CB radio DX back in the late 70’s. I ran a stock Motorola 40 channel with a custom power Mike. We did confirmation post cards 15¢ postage back then.
    Teen and young adult popular music was hard for us to find on the radio when I was a teenager. It seems our local stations liked what my mom called “chamber music”. We was out of range for FM stations. AM was our only option if we didn’t have a tape deck in our car. My 1972 Mustang had only AM on it’s Philco radio. Out of necessity to find a rock station we tuned in to 14 CFUN in Vancouver, BC. You could call their request line and request a song then tell them your first name and where you’re calling from. I got some promo stuff from them in the mail and a couple stickers to stick on whatever. Later on I would tune in to 64 KFI in Los Angeles for hit music which was their format back then. As soon as civil twilight ended a lot of far away channels opened up.

  3. Jim Meyer KC9CZ

    Hi: name is Jim and I’m interested if there are any clubs or fellow listeners that do their am radio DX-ing on a crystal set. I’ve been building them for over 60 years and since relocating to Hayward WI, where reception is good and QRM nonexistent, and with just a 50′ random wire strung between two pine trees and listening in the late evening I’ve picked up stations as far away as Plano TX., Omaha, Nashville, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Winnipeg, and Des Moines are just a few. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks

  4. Alex

    One could send the reception report via e-mail, and get the QSL via e-mail, too; there’d be no need to pay postage. The station sends you a fancy scanned image, you print it and that’s your card.

  5. Brian, W9IND

    One AM radio station that’s easy to QSL is CFRB (1010 kHz), Toronto — as well as its simulcasting shortwave sister, CFRX (6.070 MHz). The Ontario DX Association has handled QSLing duties for both stations since 1991, and I can tell you that the turnaround time is fairly rapid.

    Full details can be found here — http://cfrx.webs.com/toreceiveaqslcard.htm — and you can submit your reception report online; however, the club requests return postage and says that ensures a faster QSL.

    Personally, I prefer to QSL by mail with an opaque envelope and include a dollar or two, just to support a service that is amazingly efficient and unique in my experience. (After all, who knows QSLing better than fellow DXers?) As best I can tell, it’s OK to request QSLs from both CRFB and CFRX at the same time.

    And from what I can gather online — feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, anyone — the current cost of postage from Canada to the U.S. is $1.20 Canadian … and the latest exchange rate for one U.S. dollar just happens to be $1.32 Canadian. So one “green stamp” (U.S. dollar) should cover the cost of Canadian postage, but if you can afford it, a second dollar is a nice gesture, especially if you’re requesting two QSLs.

    Note to new SWLs: Remember that a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with a 49-cent U.S. stamp on it isn’t much good to a radio station whose QSL cards require Canadian postage.

    Brian, W9IND

  6. Mark

    Paul’s question and Ed’s response brought back some fond memories for me. I used to hunt for DX AM stations on a standard GE analog clock/radio when I was a teenager back in the mid-1960s (yes, there was radio back then!). From my home in Pittsburgh, I received QSL cards from stations as far away as Minneapolis, Dallas, Atlanta, and Boston. Amazingly, my “listening post” was in my bedroom in the basement, which brought a whole new meaning to the concept of ground wave propagation.

    All my reception reports were detailed 30-45 minute summaries of the programming I heard, signal strength and quality, and local weather conditions. There was no e-mail back then, so I mailed all my type-written reports to each station with “Attention: Chief Broadcast Engineer” marked on the envelope to ensure it got to the right person. Only a few stations did not respond, and I amassed a collection of about 50-60 QSL cards. I wish I still had them today.

    Good luck, and please let us know if AM stations today are still acknowledging reception reports with QSL cards or letters.

  7. Ed McCorry

    I have received several QSL’s and verification letters over the years, however lately it seems that if you get a letter your lucky. I’ve been told by some of the engineers that these tasks have been relegated to them due to budget cuts and headcount and they are very apologetic if it has taken a while to respond. I received a letter from an engineer in New York that felt bad it took so long and that they no longer used QSL cards that he dug up a vintage card from 1966 to send me. Another one sent a copy of the charter membership certificate from their radio club back in the 60’s.

    I will also admit that I have sent numerous emails to a station before I got some one to pay attention. So, it boils down to how lucky and sometimes persistant you are at a particular time and whether the station cares about who’s listening.

    But don’t give up, because if what happened to me this week, receiving a QSL verification from a utility station for a reception report I sent September 2012, happens to you it will make it all worth while.

    Good listening,
    Ed KI4QDE

  8. Michael Black

    I thought it was sporadic, at best. Shortwave stations considered it part of public relations to QSL, it would hopefully keep people coming back to the station.

    But I think after a certain time, it happened so little at AM stations that it got relegated to “engineering”. Nominally, they might be interested in reach, though probably not in recent times. But in engineering, there might be fellow hobbyists, who might answer the rare reception report on their own time. But isn’t “engineering” now subcontracted at many stations? And likely fewer involved in the technical end started out in ham radio or SW listening, so they won’t be familiar with the idea.

    I think even at the best of times, even stations that did reply might just use a letter. QSL cards are an expense, and likely only happened for stations getting enough listener reports, maybe the bigger and famous stations.

    A big problem is that nowadays, so many AM stations don’t have much unique content, WBZ in Boston still does, and is aware of their reach, likely because they still get calls to the shows from all over. But if it’s a syndicated program, there’s less to ID a station, and less reason to tune in different stations.

    But I have no experience with AM stations. It’s probably still worth a try, especially for something exotic. The worst that can happen is no reply.


  9. Old Ex-Radio Shack Guy

    As Mike said it is worth a try. Radio has been bleeding red ink and losing market share so long I think they would probably be delighted if not shocked to find anybody listening.

    As with any good report, try to give detail on program and ad contents, jingles, etc.

    I have a very nice album of broadcast QSLs somewhere. It would be nice to know they’re still issuing them but I suspect in most cases if they verify they will send you a letter rather than an actual QSL card. If you get lucky maybe this site will put up an article with pics from recent broadcast QSLs.

    Happy listening!



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