QSLs have been a topic of interest in the past few weeks. I have asked some questions about QSLing on the rec.radio.shortwave newsgroup, and comments have appeared here to request QSL pointers. This article aims to help you submit reception reports and request QSL cards. I pulled together some useful links and some of my experiences.
Here are three articles to get you started:
* Dxing.com's Reporting and QSLs article is an excellent introduction for beginners
* Radio Netherlands provides Writing Useful Reception Reports, a comprehensive guide to reception reporting
* Bob Wilson (N6HB) wrote An International Reply Coupon primer so you can learn about providing return postage
Now I'll discuss some of my QSL experiences and suggestions:
* The best way to obtain the address for reception report submissions is to listen to the broadcast. Many stations provide an email address and/or a postal address on the air. Some stations mention that they send QSL cards for verified reception reports. If contact information wasn't available during a broadcast, or it wasn't clear enough, try to locate the station's website. Websites regularly have contact information, and sometimes provide reception reporting instructions as well. You can also search the web or newsgroups to identify people who have received a QSL from the same station.
* Begin your letter or email by stating that you are submitting one or more shortwave reception reports, and that you would like to receive a QSL card. This helps the recipient route your letter to the correct person.
* QSL programs exist so that stations can find out who their listeners are, where they are, what the signal quality is like, and whether or not the station's program contents are useful and enjoyable. In my report to Radio Exterior de Espana, I told them that I heard a Tangerine Dream song during their broadcast. I know that Tangerine Dream comes from Germany, so I encouraged the station to try to include music from Spain in their broadcasts. In their response letter, they agreed and said that they would try to do this.
* Whenever you request something (a QSL, program schedule, or souvenir), remember to include your postal address (which should include your country). I lucked out in one instance. I sent a reception report to Radio Slovakia and did not include my postal address. They contacted me via email to ask for my address, and after I gave it to them, they sent me a QSL card. I was fortunate that they went to the effort, because they discontinued their shortwave broadcasts a few weeks later.
* If you have a special interest in the station or its host country, you can try asking politely for specific information about the country, or for station souvenirs. Sometimes, stations send items like bookmarks (Radio Havana Cuba often does this), postcards (I got some from Radio Taiwan International), calendars (both VOA and Radio Havana Cuba have sent these to me), or stickers (Radio Exterior de Espana sent me one). WWV also sent me a large, informative booklet about the NIST time signal broadcasts after I inquired about the station's history and operations.
* Stations sometimes include reception report forms with QSL cards, which is a way to encourage you to continue submitting reception reports. In general, I think one QSL request per station per year is a reasonable limit, but you can submit reception reports as often as you like.
* If you plan to listen to a particular shortwave station on a regular basis (several times per month), you can ask the station if they will let you become an official broadcast monitor. Each station handles broadcast monitoring differently, and I do not have any experience with it. As a monitor, you will submit regular reception reports, and may be entitled to postage reimbursement as well as special gifts.
* Some stations expect you to reimburse them for the return postage. Radio New Zealand International is an example of a station that requests international reply coupons in exchange for a printed QSL card. Otherwise, they will send you a graphical QSL via email. Be sure to see the international reply coupon link at the top of this post.
* On the other hand, embargoes (such as the one imposed by the United States on Cuba) suggest that you do not send any money or postage reimbursement to Radio Havana Cuba. They have never requested it, and I have always submitted my requests for QSLs or give-aways to RHC via email. They have always been excellent responders for me.
* Something I realized recently is that I need to keep better records of my QSL activities. The details that should be recorded are: the station where the request was sent, the method and the address used, the date it was sent, and also the response that was received. Having all of this information will allow you to share it with others who are trying to accomplish the same thing.
I hope this helps you get involved in receiving QSLs. Let me know how it goes!