SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites


This is a Special Chapter, where the author discusses his radio hobby monitoring philosophy and achievements over many decades.


I have been involved in radio monitoring and QSLing as a hobby since 1954, and I would like to share with you some thoughts about these pursuits.

Since I first started sending shortwave reports for QSLs back in 1954, the total has now reached 10,958 - none on duplicate frequencies for any given "station". 

On mediumwave, I have some 600 QSLs from 117 countries, but I retired from that field many years ago due to the sheer impossibility of achieving anything worthwhile from Melbourne due to: all Australian channels now occupied by 24-stations (no NSPs!) - nearly 20 stations operating from Melbourne - appalling technical operating standards (spurs - shared towers) - bad local powerline interference.

I also have several hundred QSLs from Utility stations, from from over 100 countries.


In the old days, a QSL was a card or letter issued by the station to verify information contained in a reception report, which indicated that the submitted details were checked for accurancy with the station's records. QSLs were expected to contain details as to date, time, and frequency, and a specific statement that the report had been checked for accuracy.

I went along with those "rules", but I have always been intrigued at why people sent reception reports to stations asking that the details be checked, and then issueing a QSL which sated that it was indeed their station which was heard.

Why send a report if the identity of the station is unknown!

In the ensuing decades, the meaning of the term "QSL" has broadened, and many stations issue simple "thank you for your report" cards or letters, either postal or email, with no details at all. Such responses are not really considered by sopme hobbiests to be valid QSLs.


On SW, the term "station" means different things to different people.

My interpretation is based on the document "QSL STANDARDS AND STATION COUNTING GUIDELINES" which some of us developed in the 1980s for the now defunct Australian DXing Federation. Those Guidelines had existed in fragemented form since the 1950s and we brought toghether all relevant features in a single manual, which was a multi-paged A4 printed book.

The concepts in the manual are quite valid today, decades later!

These guidelines use the term "Station" to denote a "broadcasting entity", if it satisfies all of these conditions:

- has its own mailing address for reports

- issues its own QSLs

- has a recognisable schedule

Prepared cards are not really within the spirit of these guidelines, except on rare occasions!

National and International services from any given broadcaster constitute separate stations, even if using the same frequency and transmitter, but at different times. 

Different transmitter sites of a given broadcaster constitute separate stations.

The multitudes of programs emerging from religious broadcasters do not normally constitute status as separate "stations" under these guidelines, unless they conform with the general definition (above) of a station.

A frequency difference of at least 5 kHz applies to "count" a new QSL for any given station.

I do not consider "stations heard" as a meaningful objective - my primary interest is in reporting for QSLs. 


Counting of countries is based on the DXCC philosophy, tried and tested over a great many years, using the concept of the "deleted country" caused by amalgamation, secession, war, annexation or division. Arbitary sub-categorisation of non-political "countries" occurs for "Indonesia", "China", "Papua New Guinea" (etc).

Clandestine, pirate and other non-official stations pose particular problems, and personally I don't go near them! That is a matter of personal choice, however.

Unlike some country lists, the Guidelines are holistic, and apply to LW, MW, SW, VHF, VHF, TV, and exist irrespective of whether transmitters actually operate there.


As at  May, 2012, my 10,958 reception reports have yielded 8,471 QSLs, a response rate of nearly 80%, from 1,057stations, 220 current countries, 24 deleted countries. I no longer send any form of costly inducements with reports - no IRCs, no money, no stamps, no badges, no maps, no calendars, no cassettes, no cds/DVDs, no address labels. However, I do send a nice postcard of Australian scenes with each report, and sometimes a recent photo of me. I do not bother with E-mail reports, except on very rare occasions. Neither do I send recordings!

All reports are in English, using my own PC generated personalised colored Report Letter, which also talks about me, my interests, home, and family. 

My record-keeping is simple:  

1. Ordinary file cards in order of Country, showing station, frequency, date reported, date QSLd

2. Ordinary A4 exercise books showing report designator (a number), date of report, time of report, frequency, language, station, date QSL received 

3. Ordinary A4 books showing QSL designator (a number), station, frequency, progressive station count, progressive country count, progressive grand total of QSLs count 

4. Thumb-indexed book in alphabetical order of country showing stations QSLd (name, frequency, and dates) 

I do not bother with computerisation of any of this stuff - neither do I retain the original reports, either print or audio. If something fails to respond, I will prepare a fresh report - if the station has closed down, then too bad! I do not send follow-up reports.

The QSLs are filed in cabinets, one folder for each radio country. Computerisation of all these records would take forever, and the benefits (to me) are not worth the bother and time. The present manual system suits me fine.  All my QSL reports are hand-written.

Enter supporting content here

Contact the author at this Email link