QSL How-To

QSLs ("veries") are cards or letters sent by a radio station in response to a verification request sent by a listener. Since the listener is asking a favor of the station, it should be sent in a polite tone. Demanding a QSL will get the letter relegated to the circular file in a hurry.

A station needs to see some details that can prove that the listener actually did hear the station. Some basic points:

Time/Date: The time and date of the details that you send should be plain and unambiguous. Preferably it should be in the time zone of the station. Unlike shortwave, most AM stations don't deal in GMT or UTC.  Good: 11:20pm on Sept. 9th, 2002   Bad: Sunday evening.

Content: With more and more stations broadcasting network or satellite programming, it becomes harder to find local content unique to the desired station. Yet, that's really what is needed. A local ID with call letters and slogan is ideal. An advertisement of a client in that town unlikely to be on a network, such as "Joe's Hardware on Bleeker St.". Promos for local shows or events. Sending a report of the Art Bell show when there are four stations on that frequency that carry that show isn't good. Try to include a report spanning some reasonable time. A 15 minute span or longer is good.

Target: Historically, the Chief Engineer has handled verie requests. These days an engineer may have half a dozen or more stations to cover, and can't be bothered. Still, the Chief is the best first choice. Second would be the Promotions Manager. In smaller stations, there may be nobody specific to the job, but someone will handle the duties. Beyond that, The General Manager or Sales Manager may work. In the case of a individual announcer, the report could be directed to them personally.

Conclude the deal. At the end of your report, be sure to make it clear you're requesting they send you a written verification that your report was correct. This is the tricky part. You need to ask that specifically without making it sound "grabby". You may use a phrase like: "If this report is accurate and to your satisfaction, I'd be most grateful if you could send me a reply verifying my report." Some DX'ers use a prepared card made specifically for the station. In the case of a domestic US report, include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. (SASE). In the case of non-US reports, a dollar bill enclosed is the best bet. There is such a thing as an International Reply Coupon (IRC), but most people outside of shortwave stations won't be familiar with them.

QSL collecting is a highly personal facet of the hobby. A few folks have tried to QSL everything they've heard, and have amassed huge collections. The late Ernest Cooper of Provincetown, MA, USA had over 4,000 veries. Others are in that same league. Some folks collect veries only for specific conditions, such as one for every country, state or province. There are people who will re-verify if a station changes call letters. Some will only try to verify when bigger changes happen, such as a frequency move. All very personal, and can be quite rewarding. Older collections are a glimpse of history, and much appreciated by the younger folks who weren't around at the time.

Last update: Jan 05, 2003