Author Danny Gregory went to a flea market and found a ring binder containing 369 colorful and cryptic-looking postcards. Intrigued, he bought the collection and did some investigating. These cards were ham radio QSL cards, which are postcards that hams send to one another after they make contact over the airwaves. This particular collection once belonged to a man named Jerry Powell, an aeronautical engineer who died at age 93 in 2000. Jerry was a lifelong ham radio enthusiast his earliest QSL card is from 1928. Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio won’t teach you how to become a ham, or show you new ham radio techniques. Its not a technical book at all. Instead, this book is about Jerry Powells life as seen through his lifelong hobby, and its a compelling and absorbing read, even for readers who aren’t hams. All QSL cards are unique. They feature the call sign for a radio station, and includes cryptic notes on the conversation, the kind of radio equipment used in this connection, and little personal touches that reflect the ham’s personality. Each QSL card is either made by or for the ham, and it’s very much like a picture postcard from that region. Some cards look like regular tourist postcards, and others are hand-drawn, or feature photos of the ham with family or, more commonly, in their radio shack.
Hello World was designed by Paul Sahre, a well-known illustrator. His design work in this book is amazing and carefully organized so both diehard ham radio operators and novices can appreciate Jerry Powell’s worldwide ham radio contacts over the course of his lifetime. All the pages are adorned with colorful QSL cards with detailed annotations for many of them. There’s a fold-out map of the world with little dots for all of the ham connections Powell made worldwide, so readers can cross-reference the QSL cards in his collection. There’s also a chart graphing the number of QSL cards that Powell received per decade. 1940-1949 was his most prolific period, with 98 contacts.
Talk of the Nation, April 30, 2003 Join host Neal Conan for a discussion on
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