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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, December 11, 2011

Radio Afghanistan Returns to the Air on Shortwave - 4: On the Air at Pole-i-Charke

The radio station located at Pole-i-Charke, a few miles out east from Kabul in Afghanistan was a very modern facility at the time, contained in a large functional building. It was constructed some distance off the south side of the highway running towards the famed Khyber Pass, Highway A1. This entire facility was constructed under the auspices of Deutsche Welle in Germany, and a resident engineer from Deutsche Welle was in charge of its operation.

The Pole-i-Charke station was brought into regular broadcast service during the year 1966, with just one transmitter, a 100 kW mediumwave unit made by Siemens in Germany and operating initially on 1280 kHz. When the frequency alignment took place in Asia a few years later, the frequency was modified to 1278 kHz. This station also contained a fully complete on air studio for use during emergencies.

During the Russian era, four additional Russian made transmitters were installed at Pole-i-Charke; two at 100 kW shortwave, and two at 500 kW mediumwave.

Although some reports indicated that the Pole-i-Charke station was destroyed by coalition forces in 1996, this is untrue, though some damage did occur. In fact, it was subsequently reported that the station was largely undamaged at this time, though all five of the transmitters were in a bad state of disrepair. However five years later, on October 8, 2001, this station was totally destroyed in a bombing raid.

During the following year, it was announced that the Pole-e-Charke station would be completely rebuilt, and that it would contain two American made Harris transmitters at 400 kW each. One unit was planned for use as a relay station for the programming of the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, and the other for on air use with the programming of a revived Radio Afghanistan. This brand new station was inaugurated on April 30, 2003, and the main channels of operation have been 1107 and 1296 kHz.

This unique radio station at Pole-i-Charke near Kabul in Afghanistan has been in use on mediumwave and shortwave for some 45 years, ever since its original inauguration in 1966. It is currently on the air with just the two large mediumwave transmitters on the aforementioned channels, 1107 and 1296 kHz.

Unusual QSL Cards: Different Materials

As we are aware, the usage of the QSL card in international radio circles is getting close to 100 years old, and during this time, multi-millions, and perhaps billions, of QSL cards have been issued in every country far and near, throughout planet Earth. Understandably, during this lengthy period of time, there would be lots of interesting, and at times unique, variations in the style and type of QSL card issued. That's our story today, and in particular, we focus on different types of material upon which the QSL text has been printed, and specifically, different types of paper products.

The most popular form of QSL card is of course the regular postcard size and style, that will fit easily into some form of photographic or postcard album. Cards of this style are usually printed on a flexible card of standard thickness, but not always.

As an example of what could be described as a normal QSL card, we think of the original QSL card printed for the purpose of verifying the introductory broadcasts of Adventist World Radio, way back in the year 1971; and currently, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the inaugural broadcast of AWR from Sines in Portugal. This card shows a stylistic map of Europe, and a tall shortwave tower, printed on a card of standard thickness.

A very thin style of card was used for the QSL card that was issued by the chronohertz station YVTO in Venezuela back in the 1980s. Our card is dated in 1982 and it verifies the reception of their standard transmissions on 6100 kHz.

During World War II, many needed items were in short supply, and regular card stock was not always available. The mediumwave station 2WL in Wollongong on the east coast of Australia issued a QSL card during this era that was printed on quite thick card.

A paper QSL card, if it could be described this way, was issued to verify reception reports and QSO contacts made by the operators of the radio equipment aboard the U.S. navy vessel "Wyoming" back in the mid 1920s. Our QSL shows the callsign as NWQ, and the location as enroute to Hawaii.

Another type of paper product was the old blotting paper, in use at school when the usual writing instrument was the pen dipped into an ink well. The blotting paper was dabbed over the yet-not-dry writing and this avoided a smudging of the writing. Back in 1940, amateur station W8KHM in Ohio printed his QSL text on a postcard size piece of blotting paper, and interestingly, our copy shows that it was actually in use for its original purpose, as an ink blotter. When held up to a mirror, some of the blotted writing can actually be read.

Two interesting QSL cards of a different nature came from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. In 1939, station WKA2, the communication callsign of the Puerto Rico Radio Corporation, issued a QSL card that was printed on semi-transparent oil paper. And then, six years later, mediumwave station WKAQ, which claims to be the 5th oldest broadcasting station in the world, issued a QSL card which was printed on parchment paper, a paper that was treated chemically during production.

On Sunday September 3, 1939, the day that World War II broke out in continental Europe, an American amateur radio operator made a successful QSO contact with amateur station CE3BF in Chile, South America. When the American radio man received the QSL card from South America, he painted over it with clear shellac. Why? We don't know, but perhaps this was simply to preserve the card.

Other types of paper products have also been used for the preparation of QSL cards, and we think of the 1948 version of QSL issued by amateur station VS6AL in Hong Kong. He had obtained a supply of partially printed Japanese Yen currency notes, intended for use as occupation currency, and he printed the QSL text on these notes.

This unique form of QSL was used by others also, and for example, XU1MCF used a $5 currency note issued in China in 1947 as his QSL "card". In 1946, W4FGW used a 50 Yen currency note in Japan in 1946 for his QSL "card"; and in 1992, station OA8K in Peru used a 100 Intis note for his QSL "card".

On the Pacific island of Tonga, two QSL cards are noted, made from a local form of paper. This variety of paper was handmade from the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree, and it is known locally as tapa cloth. For these two QSL cards, the very thin tapa cloth was glued onto standard card and then an artistic island scene was printed onto the cloth. These QSL cards were issued by amateur stations A35RB and A35RS.

Up in Alaska in 1954, amateur station KL7BEW used a locally produced paper made from the bark of the Birch tree for his QSL card. The entire QSL text is hand written.

As our final example of a different form of paper, we return to the AWR scene India. Back in 1978, for the annual DX contest, a full size certificate was printed upon which QSL stamps could be placed. These now historic QSL certificates were made from handmade rice paper, which is a common product in some areas of India and neighboring countries of Asia.

That's all for today about unusual materials used in the production of QSL cards, and on another occasion, we will investigate other materials that have been used in this way.