Radio Fad: Collecting Verified Reception Stamps

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WNYC EKKO reception verification stamp from the 1920s

In the 1920s and early 1930s, collecting radio verification stamps was a big fad. Broadcasters rewarded listeners for sending in reception reports by mailing them a stamp with the station's call letters on it.

The stamps usually came on a card verifying the listener's report since signal strength and coverage could vary widely depending on equipment and atmospheric conditions. Two firms out of Chicago were involved in making the stamps and albums for them. The more prominent was EKKO Company and the lesser known P.M. Bryant Company. The Bryant stamps, like the one here, are rare because they had a fairly limited run being sold directly to collectors too impatient to wait for a reply from stations between 1925 and 1927. (See ad below) Stamps came in a variety of colors including red, green, purple, brown, blue, gray and orange. More than 700 stations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Cuba participated in the promotion. Canadian EKKO stamps featured a beaver instead of an eagle. By the mid-1930s, radio technology had improved to the extent that listener reception reports were no long needed for the conventional A.M. broadcast band.

Reporting on the first release of EKKO stamps on November 16, 1924, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote that the scheme "promises to be very popular with that vast army of radio fans who find the hunting of distant stations a matter of absorbing interest." 






Radio News from February, 1925 



Ekko Stamp Album ad from December, 1924. (WNYC Archive Collections)

Ad for Bryant radio stamps, February, 1925. (WNYC Archive Collections)

Just as the EKKO and Bryant stamp collecting fad was fading, a third maker of verified reception stamps briefly came on the scene. These were known as AFCO stamps. In the mid-to-late 1930s Arthur Foerster, a Vice President of the Newark News Radio Club copied the EKKO stamp. Listener-collectors reportedly sent Foerster a reception report along with postage and a nickle for a radio stamp like the one above. They are quite rare.