Monday, May 21, 2012

QSL cards: Sheboygan, Ravenna and Hudson Falls

Good morning! Today is the seventh anniversary of Joan and I tying the knot. We'll be taking some time off together this week to do the usual exciting anniversary things.1

So, this week's posts have all been done in advance. And all of them will feature a new category for Papergreat -- QSL cards.2

QSL cards -- typically the same size as postcards -- are written confirmation of the receipt of a radio transmission. The cards are used regularly by amateur radio operators to confirm two-way radio contact between stations. They include the call sign of both stations, the time and date the contact occurred and other details.

The cards share some other common features. Many will include 73 or 73's (which means "best regards") and 88 or 88's ("love (or hugs) and kisses").

I recently acquired a shoebox full of QSL cards, and those are the ones I'll be posting throughout the week. Most of them are from the 1960s and 1970s.

The QSL card at the top of today's post is for KAEN-8510 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.3 Under the cat, the small circle logo states: "C.B.ers for Charity, East Central Wisconsin, Unit No. 469."

Here are a couple more QSL cards for today...

Above: This is Ruby Caccia's blue card for KLO 1440 in Ravenna, Ohio.

Above: This is George L. Gould's card for KID 5293 in Hudson Falls, New York. Besides the eagle, it features, in red, Olive Oyl and a guy who looks like Sherlock Holmes.

Come back tomorrow for more groovy QSL cards!

1. Possibly involving some combination of Centralia, English Center, Shartlesville, Montoursville, Frick's Lock, places where cows wander free on the road and gambling.
2. If QSL cards are not your cup of tea, perhaps you'd be interested in delving in some of the most interesting Papergreat posts from 2011. This page can get you started on your ephemera journey.
3. It's just fun to say "Sheboygan." Sheboygan. Sheboygan. Sheboygan.


  1. PART #1

    I really like collecting QSL cards. There is another type of QSL card which I happen to collect. These QSL cards are issued by International Shortwave Radio Stations from around the world. You don't have to be a Ham Radio Operator or CB Radio Operator to enjoy them. You simply have to be a Shortwave Radio Listener.

    When radio first came out for the general public in the 1920's and 1930's there were very few AM stations up and running on the AM dial, so radio manufactureers produced radios with shortwave bands. These additional radio bands allowed the early radio listeners to have more of a variety of stations to listen to. My first experience with shortwave radio was at my grandmother's house in the late 1950's. She had an old Silvertone floor model shortwave radio. This radio had a cathode ray tube which stuck out from the radio dial. When the radio warmed up the cathode ray tube would glow green. The tube contained two black lines at the top and bottom of the tube. When you were tuning in your station the closer the black lines became the better the reception of the station. When the two black lines became one line or became as close as you could make them --it meant that you had the sation fine tuned for best quality possible. Back then, as well as today, most developed countries of the world have an external shortwave radio service directed to other parts of the world including North America. The broadcasts directed to North America are in the English language.

  2. PART #2

    Any listener can earn a QSL card by filling out a reception report and submitting it to the station. The reception report should contain the following info in order to qualify for a QSL card (although today the requirements are less stringent than they were years ago):
    1. You must listen to the transmission for a period of at least 15 minutes
    2. Write the Date you heard the transmission
    3. Write the time that you heard the transmission in Univeral Coordinated Time UTC which used to be called Greenwich Mean Time GMT
    4. Write down the Name of the station
    5. Write down the name of the program
    6. Write down the frequency on which you heard the program (It is much easier with today's digital read-out radio dials than it was on older radios. On older radios you would have to guess the frequency and then listen closely to the announcer as he announced the frequency numbers at the end of the program to accurately tell what frequency you were listening to.)
    6. Take notes and submit at least three details that you heard on the program
    7. Include a SIO or SINPO report. (S=Signal Strength, I=Intereferrence, O=Overall Reception, N=Noise, P=Propogation) You write down a number from 1 to 5 indicating the quality of each item. 1 is the lowest or poorest while 5 is the best. (these reports are not as useful as they once were, because many shortwave broadcasters have access to electronic monitoring equipment in other countries)
    8. Stations used to like to hear about what model and type of shortwave radio and antenna that were using.
    9. After writing down these details, you would send them to the station and anxiously await your QSL in the mail. Today many stations allow you to fill out reception reports on line.

    In addition to receiving a QSL card, you could often receive a station pennant, give-aways, memorabilia, decals and program guides. Shortwave radio listening and collecting International Shortwave Radio QSL cards was and is a wonderful way to learn about the culture, government and customs of foreign countries. It is also an interesting and creative way to learn about World Geography.

  3. PART #3
    Personally, I am amazed at this scientific phenomena of radio waves which can travel thousands of miles around the globe and penetrate the bricks and mortar of our homes or apartments and be received on radio equipment to produce the spoken word and music.

    While most countries of the world continue to broadcast to North America in the evenings in English, a number have stopped issuing QSL cards or require several Internationa Reply Coupons or dollars to cover postage. In the early days of radio, many AM stations that were far away would also issue QSL cards ot letters of verification. These early verification letters/cards and QSL cards from AM stations are quite collectable.

    One of the more unusual International QSL cards in my collection is one from "Radio Americus". It seem that "Radio Americus" was a clandestine radio station operated by the CIA on Swan Island in the Caribbean. Its purpose was to destabilize the communist government in Cuba. The station has long since been out of commission. Another interesting QSL card in my collection is one from the U.S. Army Strategic Communication Command in Washington, D.C. The call letters of this station are W.A.R. Some other interesting QSL cards are from Cable and Wireless International station in Jamaica and a number from the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy. I forgot to mention in addition to getting QSL cards from International shortwave stations, you could also get QSL cards from private as well as government utility stations like Armed Services and International Time Stations. Of course, I have QSL's from BBC- London, Radio Canada International, Radio Canada Northern Service, Radio Madrid-Spain, Radio France International, Radio Berlin International, The Voice Germany-Cologne-West Germany, Radio Budapest, Radio Sofia, Radio Moscow, Radio Kiev, The Voice of the West-Lisbon-Portugal, Radio Netherlands, Radio Switzerland, Radio France International, Radio Sweden, Radio Accra-Ghana, Radio Cairo, ELWA-Monrovia-Liberia, Radio South Africa, Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand, Radio Havana, Radio Mexico, Trans World Radio-Bonaire-Netherlands Antilles, 4VEH-Cape Haitian-Haiti, HCJB-Quito-Ecuador, Radio Brazil, Radio Argentina among others.

    Some of the more interesting programs that I heard include: the last trransmission before Russian troops invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, the playing of martial music over Radio Moscow in honor of President John F. Kennedy on the day of his assasination and throughout the weekend, and the quoting and reading of an editorial of J.W.Gitt, former owner and editor of the York Gazette and Daily Newspapaer of York, PA over Radio Havana, Cuba.

    Another interesting feature of shortwave radio programming was the wide spread use of "Mailbag Programs". Listeners would write letters to these programs with questions about the country and its customs. The letters would be read and the questions answered over the air. It used to be such a thrill to have your letter read and your questions answered for all the world to hear. I had questions answered on Radio Canada, Radio Havana Cuba, HCJB-Quito-Ecuador, Radio Moscow, The Voice of America, Radio Cairo, and Trans World Radio-Bonaire-Netherlands Antilles

    Shortwave radio listening is a wonderful educational experience and collecting QSL cards from International stations is a wonderful hobby.