Keep the Heritage Alive
It’s good of Charles Kinney of WSB and others to still take the time to acknowledge DX reception reports as we approach 100 years since the start of AM radio broadcasting in the United States (“For AM DXers, the Romance Lives On”).
Our collections here at the Radio Heritage Foundation (www.radioheritage.net) feature thousands of QSL cards and letters sent by station engineers, program directors, traffic managers, station managers, receptionists and DJs over the decades since then.
We’re 5,000 miles or more away from California, so you can imagine how far those AM signals ranging from 250 watts (or less) to 50 kW have bounced and reached to get this far … especially more so for those AM signals from the Midwest, New England and the rest of the East Coast!
It’s inevitable and understandable that AM stations no longer have much use for or interest in hearing from listeners so far away.
However, it’s also sobering to think that all that may now be left of one of those many thousands of AM stations from almost 100 years on the air is a lonely QSL card, stained letterhead, rusty tin badge, wrinkled coverage map or a faded photograph … and even more sobering to reflect that they’re down here in New Zealand.
In the future, when social historians, researchers, genealogists and interested folks go looking for memories and treasures from today’s AM stations, I’m really scared they’ll find nothing from today’s digital world.
So, if only for nostalgia’s sake, I encourage today’s AM radio people to do something to “save” their radio station for the future.
If you do hear from a listener in Norway or New Zealand, please reply, because that letterhead or bumper sticker you send may end up being the only tangible evidence your station ever existed.
Here at the Radio Heritage Foundation we raised only $3,500 this past year, paid about 20 percent of our bills and no wages for 2,000-plus hours of radio heritage work. So although we’d like to show you all those old letterheads, letters, cards and photos, and feature memories and articles, we’re really struggling to make it happen.
Another tangible way to help save your station (and the thousands who came before you) is to support us with donations of station memorabilia and volunteer time and skills, make a financial donation or become an annual supporter.
You can reach us at Radio Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 20024, Newtown, Wellington 6242, New Zealand and via www.radioheritage.net, our global website.
In the meantime, we salute all the good radio people who, over the years, put a card or letter in the USPO box at the corner store, and sent a little souvenir, a little memory of their station over the miles.
We’re here and looking after them for you and in their memory.
Radio Heritage Foundation
Wellington, New Zealand
Your article on AM DX brought back lots of memories. As a kid in the early ’60s I built a crystal set and tuned in many of the same legendary stations and frequencies at night.
But I had to look at the April 21 issue and wonder if you tried to slip something in on us. On your map on page 22, you have WSAI in Cleveland. When did the FCC and Canada allow this? Last time I tuned in they were licensed to Cincinnati, albeit on a different frequency.
With all the call letter and frequency swaps it’s hard to keep track of anything anymore, but I’m real sure about this.
I worked at KFKA(AM) in Greeley, Colo., in the late 1990s. KFKA went on the air in 1921, making it the oldest broadcast station in Colorado. Today, KFKA operates at 1310 kHz with 5 kW nondirectional daytime, 1 kW directional (two-tower) nighttime.
Every winter, we received several reports from Scandinavian DXers who practiced the hobby in the Arctic Circle. They would send cassette tapes of their catch. It was fun sending QSL cards to them, as well as some station paraphernalia.
Community Radio for Northern Colorado
Small Stick, Distant Reach
While it is not surprising that 50,000 watt clear-channel AM stations can be heard in far distant locations, what is more amazing is that the signal from local AM stations like mine can skip around the globe to be picked up by DX hobbyists north of the Arctic Circle.
I own and manage KACH(AM) in Preston. We operate at 1340 kHz with a fulltime power of 1,000 watts. In the 12 years I have been here, I have received a number of DX reports, mostly from Norway and Finland.
It is interesting to me that these guys spend long, cold winter nights scanning the AM dial listening for stations on receivers connected to long-wire antenna systems strung across the Arctic tundra. I have received photos of these DXers and their equipment in cabins and abandoned schoolhouses in areas that are home to Laplanders and reindeer. Aren’t these people supposed to be hockey fans?
I have received reports with a cassette tape, a CD and more recently MP3 files attached to an e-mail asking me for verification that what was heard and recorded in the far reaches of Finland really came from my transmitter here in Idaho.
In several cases, I have corresponded for a period of time with the people who send the reports, most of whom seem to be well-educated professionals who travel to remote locations to enjoy a week or two of solitude with a few friends and rooms full of receiving equipment.
That my little 1k station operating on a graveyard frequency can be heard halfway around the world is pretty amazing to me. I try to answer all the reports, but I fear I have missed a few over the years. I try to send them information about my location, and perhaps some promotional item from the station.
With more and more communication by e-mail, that is usually a couple of digital photos attached to my verification report.
Jerry Dowd uses this QSL card to reply from Greater Media in Charlotte.
Write Legibly Please
WBT(AM) receives about 500 QSL requests a year. If they come by e-mail I send them back that way. See the attached.
Please remind QSLers that if they request by mail, send a self-addressed stamped envelope. Also, most times we can’t read the handwriting.
Manager, Technical Services
Director of Engineering
Greater Media - Charlotte