At the end of WWI radio became the entertainment of choice. Stations were coming online. One problem was that they did not know how far their station carried. Who was listening and how far away could their transmissions were heard.
Then the EKKO Company of Chicago came up with an advertising gimmick which in turn measured the station’s reach.
EKKO sold beautifully engraved stamps, printed by the American Bank Note Company, to radio stations which in turn mailed a stamp to a listener who could prove they received the station’s programs by describing a program at the time of reception and included 10 cents.
Stamps depicted an eagle between two radio transmission towers. Mexico and Cuba also used this design with their call letters beginning with “X” and “C”. Canada replaced the eagle with a beaver gnawing on a tree.
EKKO stamps came in a variety of colors – red, dark blue, light blue, green, olive, yellow, orange, brown and purple, and each bore the call letters of the station and “Verified Reception Stamp.”
The EKKO were highly collected. EKKO scrapbooks held as many as 650 stamps.
There were stations who did not participate in the program. Their call letters were often hand-produced on blanks from the EKKO Company. Some stations hand-printed their call letters on blanks while others wrote them – often after the program ended.
Today EKKO stamps are sot by collectors. Listed on the website are EKKO stamps from every state. Most have an interesting history such as Johnny Carson’s first broadcasting job. Another is started by the Louisiana Hayride which later became the station for the Grand Old Opera. There are more with interesting histories.
Each EKKO comes framed using conservation glass, rag mat boards cut with a v-groove and finished with acid-free dust cover paper and coated stainless steel wire. The frame’s outside measurement is 9” x 11 3/4”, small enough to hang on any wall or given as a gift and at an affordable price.
Look for your state’s early stations.