For those unfamiliar with the radio listening hobby, a word about verifications, or "QSLs."
Beginning in the early days of broadcasting, radio listeners developed the practice of writing to stations that they heard over long distances. They described the programming they heard, and asked the station to "verify" in writing that it was indeed their station that was heard. Stations soon began responding to these "reception reports" with their own distinctive "verification cards." These cards came to be known as "QSLs," the letters "Q-S-L" being the international Morse code symbol for "I acknowledge receipt."
Most stations use specially designed QSL cards that are unique to them. These cards often convey a sense of the country's history or culture, details about the station, the station emblem, etc. Usually they also contain details of the listener's reception - date, time and frequency. Some stations, particularly the smaller ones, use letters instead of cards, often issued on decorative stationery.
Collecting QSLs became an important element in the hobby of long distance ("DX") radio listening, and remains so today. DX listening is only tangentially related to amateur radio, where radio operators talk with each other over their own transmitters (and also exchange QSLs of their contacts). The listening DXer does not talk over the air, but gets his or her pleasure in hearing new stations, writing to them and obtaining their QSL.
The Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications is a five-person group whose goal is to preserve QSLs belonging to hobbyists who are no longer active. Many QSL collections are misplaced or discarded when their owners pass away or leave the hobby. This is unfortunate because QSLs are not just souvenirs of individual listening experiences, but also an important part of the history of radio, reflecting changes in national politics, broadcasters, frequencies and relations between stations and listeners.
From the time the Committee was established in 1986 until April 2005, it operated under the umbrella of the Association of North American Radio Clubs (ANARC). ANARC was founded in 1964 as a unifying organization for non-profit radio listening clubs in the United States and Canada. Following ANARC's dissolution in 2005, the Committee has functioned independently.
THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
Through contact with inactive listeners and the families of hobbyists who have passed away, and by a public information campaign within the listening community, the Committee has sought out collections that might otherwise be lost. The focus has been on broadcast band (medium wave) and shortwave broadcast stations, although other stations are also well represented. The Committee is affiliated with the Library of American Broadcasting (LAB), which is located in the Hornbake Library building on the campus of the University of Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Since its formal dedication in 1972, the LAB has established itself as one of the foremost repositories of media history in the country. The CPRV collection is part of the LAB's wide-ranging collection of audio-visual recordings, books, pamphlets, periodicals, personal collections, photographs, scripts, vertical files, etc. devoted exclusively to the history of broadcasting. The LAB is staffed by trained and dedicated individuals operating in a professional environment.
The CPRV collection at the LAB includes many thousands of QSLs, including those originally belonging to many well known listeners of years past. Some of the QSLs date back to the very early days of broadcasting, and represent what is probably some of the last remaining history of these stations.
With its goal of establishing a comprehensive archive of broadcast QSLs now substantially achieved, the Committee is no longer accepting additional collections. Questions about the Committee's work can be addressed to Jerry Berg, CPRV Chair, 38 Eastern Avenue, Lexington, MA 02421, firstname.lastname@example.org.