Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dziugas, who recently contacted me with the following question:
I have a question – what is the legit distance to ask for a QSL card? As a Lithuanian, I have sent (and succeeded) with requests to Hungarian, Czech and Estonian stations. But would it be fine according to DX etiquette to send QSL requests for local/national FM stations? It would be nice to get a collection from them as well.
Thank you for sharing your question, Dziugas. I hope that readers will comment with their input, but I’ll share with you how I feel about the matter.
I personally believe if you’re sending an honest, courteous, and detailed report, you can request a QSL from any station. The station could be in your neighborhood for that matter.
Include the basics!
It is very important, however, that you include some basic information in each listener report. Obviously, you’re already doing this Dziugas, but for the record–and others reading this post–I always include:
When and where I heard the station (date and time in UTC)
The broadcast frequency (important too for national broadcasters that use local relays)
Details about the broadcast from my own informed listening:
Including specifics about the topic being discussed
Noting any names of presenters or interviewees
Noting music titles (you can use your phone or an app like Sound Hound to help you ID)
Noting times I heard details (time stamps)
A signal report–I always use the SINPO code/system. Of course, with local stations, this might not be as necessary, but I’d still give them an idea of their signal quality.
How I heard them, giving them details about my receiver and antenna. If it’s an online station, I’ll also let them know if I’ve listened to their stream before (although, I base the QSL on my over-the-air listening–not online listening)
If I’m making a request by email, I’ll often include an MP3 recording, too.
Frankly, I think it’s a good idea to request QSLs from local and regional stations because these may actually be some of your most cherished QSLs in the future.
Also, keep your expectations in check. You may find it very difficult to get an actual QSL card from broadcasters today–typically, only international broadcasters still send these. I would also send your request via the post if you want a letter or paper reply. Even then, it can be quite challenging to get a reply these days, but go for it and know that when you send a request, you’re representing radio listeners and DXers everywhere, so be a top-shelf diplomat!
With all this said, it sounds like you’re already doing all the right stuff, so I say go for those local QSLs!
Post readers: Please comment with your thoughts and suggestions!
Radio Waves: Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio
Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers. To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Roseanna, the International Radio Report, Bennett, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:
I have some news, first from Radio Taiwan International:
Due to COVID-19, RTI has decided to suspend posting QSL cards to the countries listed in the image [attached].
If you live in any of these countries I would advise you to expect significant delays in receiving a physical QSL card from RTI.
Secondly, Radio Slovakia International have announced on their show that they currently don’t expect to be able to have QSL cards made and/or sent out in a timely manner for quite some time, again due to COVID-19.[…]
Radio, I’ve just about had enough of you and your abandonment of your defining purpose as broadcasters. With the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging everyday life and suspending every reliable comfort from work routines to sports and entertainment or actual human contact, we’re looking for steadiness somewhere — an echo of the familiar, a kindred connection. Anything to tether us to something recognizable. A service the radio dial used to provide — and public radio still does.
Corporate radio is missing its biggest opportunity in a generation right at this moment.
Based on the events of the last few days in Los Angeles, market No. 2 with a 60-plus year history of rich and vibrant local broadcasting excellence, it appears there is little wisdom or vision left. Case in point: the vast audience disconnect in Entercom’s abrupt and confusing decision at KROQ-FM to fire morning show personality Kevin Ryder on Wednesday, someone who is a heritage voice in L.A. with a long local history as half of the “Kevin & Bean Show,” a well-loved talent who had just launched the freshly-formed team “Kevin in the Morning With Allie & Jensen” this past January (in the wake of longtime partner Gene “Bean” Baxter’s retirement last year). But instead of capitalizing on that position of strength, using this particular anchor as a steady ship for the approaching tidal wave of pandemic upheavals, KROQ chooses to obliterate a main source of humor and comfort from its airwaves right at a moment when the attending audience needs stability more than ever.[…]
Experimental Radio licenses from the files of the Federal Communications Commission
On February 24, 2020, Lynk’s experimental satellite licensed as WQ9XDP was received on an unmodified mobile phone in the Falklands. The test apparently was in “cell broadcast” mode — as in Wireless Emergency Alerts and Amber Alerts — and not an individualized call to a specific handset. (The video below contains an expletive.)
[…]WJ2XUG was issued to PointView Tech, reportedly a unit of Facebook, for the Athena satellite project in the 70 and 80 GHz bands. At this writing, the public record for this experiment was incomplete as the FCC had asked PointView for additional ground station information.
[…]Viziv Technologies, licensee of WJ2XGB, a giant experimental station in Texas, has proposed additional uses for its technology beyond wireless power transmission.
[…]Another wireless power venture is Guru Wireless, which was issued WK2XRN for tests at 10, 24 and 62 GHz. “Radio wave energy is generated in the GU [generating unit], and then it is refracted and channeled into highly focused beams, which reach and power your devices,” according to the Guru website.
[…]Rohde & Schwarz USA was issued WP9XZP for Special Temporary Authority in association with Microsoft, which is evaluating security scanners apparently for its own use. The Rohde & Schwartz product is a “millimeter wave security scanner that automatically detects potentially dangerous items carried on the body or in clothing. It consists of a flat panel with 3,008 transmitter/receiver pairs that emit extremely low-power millimeter waves in very short succession,” the company said.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Dan Robinson who shares this fascinating story about what has to be “one of the most important occurrences involving a SWBC station that no longer exists — the Voice of Biafra”:
Biafra: One of the rarest of SWBC QSLs
by Dan Robinson
Many SWLing Post readers will no doubt have heard, in recent years, the station Radio Biafra broadcasting via various relay locations on shortwave, and also on the Internet.
Those of us who have been SWLs for many decades remember the history of Biafra and the story of the original Voice of Biafra, which when the station was active on shortwave, before it was closed down by Nigerian government forces.
My own SWLing career began in the late 1960’s, but alas my receivers at the time, and my knowledge of what was on the air were such that I did not hear the transmissions from Biafra (I’m one of those who regrets having missed many former tropical band broadcasters, such as Tonga, Fiji, Gilbert & Ellice Islands (later known as Kiribati) when they used shortwave, and Biafra was on that list as well).
I first learned about the original Radio Biafra from articles written by the late Don Jensen.
In one of those [download PDF], Don re-printed a copy of one of the most famous SWBC QSLs of all time — a Biafra verification sent to DX’er Alan Roth.
Typed on a piece of notebook paper, it had “Broadcasting Corporation of Biafra, P.O. Box 350, Enugu” at the top. Three paragraphs of text followed, referring to Roth’s reception dated January 28th, 1969 of the station on 7,304 kHz.
Pictured with the letter to Roth was the envelope with “Republic of Biafra” mailed from the Biafra mission on Madison Avenue, in New York City. I will always remember the caption, which said that Roth had taken his reception report to the Biafran delegation office which:
“managed to get it flown into the breakaway nation with other official correspondence, on the emergency airlift. Radio Biafra’s chief engineer wrote the verification letter and returned it via the same route. . . a high contrast photo was required to bring out the typing since a well-born typewriter ribbon had been used.”
For decades this Biafra verification to Roth was indeed considered to be the only one in existence, though because so many SWLs and DX’ers were active through the years, it’s always difficult to state this with certainty.
Those of us who collect historic SWBC QSLs, going through thousands of eBay listings, always keep an eye out for cards and letters and station materials.
So it was that a few weeks ago, as I was doing my usual due diligence looking through eBay listings, I noticed something unusual. Listed among SWBC QSLs from a seller in Ithaca, New York was something astounding — another Biafra verification letter!
Looking closely, it seemed to be exactly like the famous QSL letter sent to Alan Roth in 1969, with the exact same date, but sent to a James G. Moffitt, in Dallas, Texas.
Days ticked by — I had the QSL on ‘watch’ status on my eBay account, and as I do for any QSL of high value, I also had it on automatic bid status. For this piece of SWBC history, my maximum bid was very high, something I rarely do unless the item has extreme historic or collectors significance.
I envisioned furious bidding for this Biafra verification, but in the end only four bids were recorded. I won the QSL at what I consider to be a very low price ($81) considering its rarity.
The “Undiscovered QSL of Radio Biafra”, as Jerry calls it in his new article, now resides with me here in Maryland. Unless/until another of its kind emerges somewhere on the QSL market, it has to be considered the only one of its kind in the world.
As for the question of whether this previously “undiscovered” QSL is genuine, Jerry notes the similarities between the Roth QSL letter from 1969, and the one sent to James G. Moffitt, who he notes was active as a DX’er in the days when Radio Biafra existed.
“. . .what about the common date, and date-time-frequency details, in the two veries? If the reports had arrived in Biafra at roughly the same time, it would not be unusual for the replies to be prepared on the same day. As to the common date-time-frequency details, perhaps whoever typed the letters thought these references were standard boilerplate rather than information that was to be tailored to the specific listener. Certainly the frequency could be expected to be the same. The common date of reception is harder to explain, but it is not difficult to see how the almost inevitable difference in dates of reception could have been overlooked. QSLers know that verifications can be wrong in their details, misdated, even sent to the wrong listener. As for the different fonts, and for Alan’s letter being light in appearance and Moffitt’s dark, perhaps the typist changed typewriters because one was running out of ink. We will likely never know for sure, but I think the Moffitt verie (which sold on eBay for $81) is genuine. In any event, the story reminds us how, in every endeavor, even shortwave listening, today’s connected world can cast new light on old events and turn longstanding certainties into question marks.”
I am quite happy with having acquired what surely is one of the rarest of SWBC QSLs. It has been added to a collection that, in addition to my own QSLs that I carefully kept over the years, includes other unique cards, including one from ZOE Tristan da Cunha and the station at the former Portuguese Macao.
Amazing story, Dan! It pleases me to no end to know that someone who values our shortwave radio history–and does a proper job archiving it–has acquired this amazing piece. I especially appreciate the time that you and Jerry Berg put into sharing the history of the Voice of Biafra with the shortwave listening and DXing communities. Thank you!
Readers: As Dan suggests, I strongly encourage you to check out Jerry’s website, On The Shortwaves. It’s a deep treasure trove of radio history.
Steven Roberts recently sent me a message with photos of a QSL card collection he once had. You see, several years ago he started the process of living on his boat, The Nomadness, full-time. It required that he pare down his belongings to only the essentials; he made the decision to sell his QSL card collection.
“Kind of sorry I sold them now, but I have to let things go before I sail off, die, or otherwise render my tonnage irrelevant!”
Steve said that most of the card collections below are from around 1966-67; others from about 1980. Click on the images to see larger versions: