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Long Delayed QSLs


This was originally a posting of mine to the HCDX mailing list on 22 July 1994.
(I just found this on an old disk!)

Well, this is a subject I have a lot of interest in as I have waited a long time for some QSLs. My own longest QSL wait without sending a followup copy of my report was 17 months from Radio Casino, Costa Rica back in 1979-1980. However, around that same period La Voz de Chile went through and cleaned out their files of reports that were up to 4 or 5 years old. If you look through some old club bulletins such as NASWA for the 1979-1980 period, you will see a lot of people reporting receiving La Voz de Chile QSLs with waits in the 4 year mark.

Of course, if you really want a QSL, you send a follow-up - a second (or third, etc) copy of your report. From 1986 - 1990, I sent out a lot of follow-up reports for receptions I made in 1972-75 and 78-81. These were actually new letters, but the reports and details were taken out of my logbooks for those periods. About a third of the stations answered me, some with very nice responses. I QSLed several Brazilians this way, a couple of Colombians and Venezuelans, a Dominican and maybe one or two others that I'm forgeting about. The oldest report I verified this way was originally from 1974 and the QSL arrived in 1990, for a total elapsed time of 16 years between reception and verification. I assume that this is the record for longest elapsed time for a QSL received via mail.

The other way to verify reports is via what my wife has dubbed "door- to-door DXing". This involves visiting the station in person to get your QSL. I have visited over 100 stations in Latin America and verified somewhere around 50 stations this way. (Many of the stations visited had already been QSLed the convential way.) For more on "door- to-door DXing", I had an article on travel DXing in NASWA a few years back and it is available via the NASWA reprints service.

Anyway, I verified several early 1970s receptions in 1985 while traveling in South America, but my total elapsed time record for a QSL received in person belongs to Radio Atenea in Costa Rica. This station was active on 6150 in the early 1970s. When I visited Costa Rica in 1989, Radio Atenea had long since closed its doors, but I took along a reception report anyway. With luck, I might meet someone at another station who used to work for them. Sure enough, at Radio Universidad the program director had worked at Radio Atenea in the early 1970s, and he gladed issued a QSL for my 1974 report - for a total elapsed time of fifteen years, and my personal record for a QSL received via a personal visit.

There is, however, one record even longer. While living in Honduras in 1984, I visited Radio Primero de Mayo, an AM station that had used 4790 SW in the early 1960s. While there I picked up a QSL for DXer Gerry Dexter for a followup on his 1963 reception of the station - for a total elapsed time of 21 years! This must be the outstanding record for total elapsed time for any QSL received, whether by mail or through a personal visit to the station. What makes this QSL especially exceptional is that the station's asst. director issued the QSL card. The asst. director was the son of the owner and director of the station - and was 19 years old when he issued the QSL. This must be the only QSL in existence where the verie-signer wasn't even born when the reception was made!!!

Although I doubt I'll ever be able to top Gerry on having a QSL signed by someone who wasn't even born when the reception occured, I do eventually expect to exceed the 21 years total elapsed time record. I have a number of unverified receptions of Latin American stations heard in 1972-75. These are stations that still exist on AM, but no longer use shortwave. During future trips to Latin America, I plan to get some of them verified. In fact, the occasion might come as soon as December. We are planning a Latin American trip immediately after Christmas this year, probably to either Panama or the Dominican Republic. Panama was off SW before I got into the hobby, but I have several unverified 1972 and 1973 receptions of Dominican Republic stations to be verified. Even if we don't go to the Dom Rep this year, we will surely go sometime in the future. And, I've got lots of old receptions from other countries as well!

I'm sure some spoil-sport out there might ask what is the point of verifying the stations after so many years. First, as to mailed follow-ups, the stations that answered me were generally surprised and pleased that they were remembered after so many years. One station, Ondas Musicales in the Dominican Republic, even breifly reactivated its shortwave transmitter after receiving (and answering) my 14 year old reception report! This, of course, gave newer DXers a chance to log the station. There are also at least two other stations that reactivated SW shortly after I sent old followups, but they never answered me :-(. As to stations that I have personally visited, they have always been very interested in getting a foreign visitor, and very receptive and cordial.

Does a QSL mean anything when it is issued ten, fifteen, or twenty years after the reception. I have never sent (or personally delivered) an old followup on a tentative report. These have always been on stations that I knew I had heard. OK, so they can't check their log because they don't have it anymore. I knew I had heard them and they were willing to acknowledge that. As to the checking the log issue, I can tell you that most of those 100+ Latin American stations that I have visited do not keep detailed logs (often no logs) and do not normally even compare current reception reports to logs. So, I figure these long-delayed verifications are just as valid as any new Latin American verification.

This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995

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