Listeners send a reception report, with enough information about a broadcast to prove that it was heard, to the station, via a maildrop, or posted on a website such as the FRN, or to an email address. Information about the show should, at a minimum, include date, time in UTC, station ID, frequency, mode of operation, SIO or SINPO numbers, the listener's location, address that the QSL should be sent to, and a few details of the show, such as program content, when IDs were heard, et al. Most stations would like to hear listeners' opinions of the program, as well. The station may then return a QSL to the listener, usually via either the maildrop, or to the listener's email address. When a maildrop is used, it is customary to include either a couple of dollars, or three first-class stamps, to cover the cost of postage. Some stations have also asked for a monetary contribution, as well, although this practice has acquired a distasteful reputation, due to a few stations keeping the money and not sending the QSL.
Pirate radio QSLs are notable in their variety; they range from simple postcards confirming that the listener did indeed hear the station, to elaborate artwork rivaling professional productions, to packages of program and promotional material, including CDs of current and past shows. Items such as clocks, rubber chickens, sailor's hats, and even packets of human hair have been received, although these are somewhat unusual.
It's important to realize that pirate stations may take a considerable amount of time to reply to a QSL request. Some stations may reply in short order, within hours via email, or within a week via maildrop. Others, though, may take weeks, months, or even years to reply, and a delay of a few months is probably the norm. Generally speaking, if a station does announce a maildrop or email address, it will QSL; however, there have been a few stations that have not, for unknown reasons. The listener should not be discouraged by a long, delay, though, as the odds are that they will receive a QSL eventually.
Many older pirate shows are relayed, and the maildrop or email address announced on the show may no longer be active. It may also prove that the station itself is no longer active, even if the drop still is. When in doubt, it's best to consult someone in the #pirateradio IRC channels, or to post a question on the Shortwave section of the FRN.
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