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QSL From Long Ago, and Far Away

In 1961 Joseph Rohrer was president, manager and chief engineer of WLCX(AM) in La Crosse, Wis., and took time out one day to respond to a listener in New Zealand.

Our story about AM DXers in the April 21 issue was a hit, as you’ll see on the letters on page 33 of this issue. One reply came from David Ricquish, chairman of the Radio Heritage Foundation in New Zealand.

In preparing his letter for publication I asked David if he could supply a sample QSL reply from his collections. He sent this image, and I felt it was worth sharing close-up.

“I’ve chosen WLCX La Crosse for a number of reasons,” David wrote.

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“First, WLCX no longer exists, so this is a good example of a silent call. Secondly, the personal letter from Joseph H. Rohrer exemplifies how one individual could be president, manager, chief engineer — ‘that was my voice you heard making the station break’ and ‘I sweep the place out sometimes too’ — which captures the radio spirit of those times almost 50 years ago.

“Thirdly, I did a little research on Joseph and found that although he died in 1977, by then he also owned WLXR(FM); so his radio world surely prospered. He found time to be Festmaster-Oktoberfest in 1971 and the La Cross Kiwanis honored his memory with an industrial technical scholarship at Western Technical College in La Crosse that still exists today,” Ricquish continued.

“Fourthly, in his letter he talks about the period when local 250 watt stations were increasing their daytime powers to 1 kW, a little snippet of radio industry information as it was happening.

“Fifthly, he was also an amateur radio operator, something many of the earlier generation of radio engineers did as a matter of course.

“And, finally, WLCX was a tiny 250 watt station on that most crowded 1490 AM spot on the dial, yet the signal reached all the way down from Wisconsin to the South Pacific; and Keith Robinson, a New Zealand listener, bothered to listen for the signal, to write to WLCX and keep the reply, and make it available to us here at the Radio Heritage Foundation.

“Paul, it just sums up a time in radio that is long gone, but we honor the memory as best we can. Every station and broadcaster has a story, and if we can just keep those stories alive for future generations, then it’s worth all the effort.”