I was.

Believe it or not, during the 1960's, POPULAR ELECTRONICS magazine issued callsigns (WPE prefixes) to "Shortwave Monitors". All you had to do was send them QSL's representing a minimum number of stations heard/confirmed (perhaps 5) and they would ship you a spiffy 8 x 10 certificate with a sequentially-issued callsign emblazoned on it next to your name.

Click here for a look at a vintage WPE certificate (courtesy of N3DQU).

You could even compete for DXCC-type "award endorsements". It was the next best thing to being a real, licensed ham operator, especially for a 10 year-old kid like me with a Hallicrafters S-119 "Sky Buddy II" receiver and 50 feet of copper wire strung beween two pine trees. A Mastercrafters 24 hour clock, a pair of Brandes headphones, and a world map completed my "listening post".

My callsign was WPE1FYE. Funny how after so many years I still remember it. Apparently, a lot of others remember theirs, too.

Joe, W1GFH/6

Were YOU a WPE?


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Tom Kneitel Talks About The WPE program

Hi Joe!

Here's a little background on the program's early days.

Originally, during the mid-1950's, a DX'er named Joe P. Morris was issuing SWL ID's with a WR0 prefix. For an SASE, you got a mimeographed strip with only an ID, which was written in by hand. As time went on, Roberts decided it required more time and effort than he had available. He was asking around if anyone was interested in taking it over. I volunteered. At that time I was writing for Popular Electronics, and asked Perry Ferrell, the editor, if they would like to sponsor the project as a service to readers. They agreed and said they would publicize it as a Popular Electronics program, print up the certificates, etc. I was put in charge of the project and my signature was printed on the certificates. We also decided to reorganize the project and replace the WR0 with WPE. The original run of certificates had pre-printed ID's running from WPE1AA through WPE0ZZ.

I believe they announced the project late in the 1950's and the response was overwhelming. I processed the applications and typed in the names and dates. It didn't take long for me to run through all of the certificates. The next batch of certificates (to cover ID's with 3-letter suffixes) did not have pre-printed ID's. We did not keep records as to the specific ID assignments. I typed in the ID's, names, dates on those certificates. I handled this program until the spring of 1961 when I became the editor of another radio magazine. At that time, Popular Electronics redesigned the WPE certificate, removed my signature, and replaced it with those of Perry Ferrell and of Hank Bennett, the DX editor of Popular Electronics. I don't know much about the program after that but I know it existed for a number of years. I believe the WDX program came later and was run by a radio club and did not have any any connection with either WPE or Popular Electronics.

Hope that's of interest and use.


Tom Kneitel, K2AES/ WPE2AB

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