These Elderly WHITE Men are the face of Ham Radio. No Women No people of Color, no one under 60 years old. A repulsive image and the men who embrace all that it stands for.
President Rick Roderick, K5UR, and members of the ARRL Board’s Executive Committee undertook a round of visits to FCC Headquarters in Washington on November 4 and 5. Atlantic Division Director Tom Abernethy, W3TOM; New England Division Director Fred Hopengarten, K1VR; Roanoke Division Director Bud Hippisley, W2RU; West Gulf Division Director John Robert Stratton, N5AUS, and ARRL Washington Counsel David Siddall, K3ZJ.
Below: This is the Cover of QST Magazine December, 2019 issue. The photo typifies the cultural disconnect of Ham Radio from contemporary and “youthful” society. This image is an anachronism. An elderly “white” man in a faux Currier and Ives setting. His subservient wife is just outside the frame, standing near with a cup of coffee and sweets.– I gagged and laughed on seeing it. — (and thinking I had “time-traveled” I checked my screen date and year!)
And yet…. this image is an accurate reflection of the hobby. Where septuagenarians +, whose productive lives are over, spend their time talking within an insular geriatric community tied to the analog past. Mostly white men, their on-air discourse is of the most insipid kind. The ARRL’s mind-set, culture and preferred image to promote the hobby is of course an old white guy.
I lived in Pasadena, Ca in the 2000’s. I bought a Honda Silverwing scooter to ride the 9 freeway miles to work daily. The Silverwing had a muscular 50Hp engine and it would knock you back in the seat off the line.— I went to the HRO store in Burbank just after Xmas in 2008– and they were selling the FT-450 for $636. I snapped it up– and lashed it to the seat of my scooter for the ride home. That little radio is a solid rig with many features. Yaesu upgraded the rig to the FT-450D. It’s still (2019) in production. For sale at DX Engineering for $674. In my opinion the 450D is best in class.
“For millennia, communications traveled only as fast as horse or ship could carry them. In “The Victorian Internet,” author Tom Standage tells the story of how the telegraph was a revolutionary advance in communications, how it shrunk the world” Eric Mayforth review on Amazon. Whether you know CW or not– it’s a totally fun and engaging read.
I don’t post a book unless I really liked it.. If you enjoy it? Then great!
Published in 2014. If you are a student of WWII you might have missed this brilliant work. LeMay, underappreciated, infamous and WW II’s “most important General” according to some. I’ve been a student of military history since high school. This one ranks among the best.
One of 5 picks by Bill Gates (as in Microsoft) for summer reading. 2019.
A Russian aristocrat is sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow luxury hotel. during the horrors of Stalin’s rise through the 20’s and into the 30’s.– Much of the real Russia is ignored. Still– a good yarn. OH! Thanks Bill for the recommendation. It was as good as you said it would be.
Author Cixin Liu is said to be the Chinese Isaac Azimov
Smart, Conspiracy theory, Cosmology, Philosophy, Radio and incredible science-fiction! “Wildly imaginative, really interesting.” —President Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem Remembrance of Earth’s Past.
From a writer whose “sentences never fail to thrill”Los Angeles Times
A blind French girl and a young Wehrmacht soldier– their paths collide in the closing days of WWII. Fabulous story. Ham radio enthusiasts will enjoy the German RF intercept team in the story.– Just looking at the cover is a high after reading. Amazon Link
In 1937, the lights were going out in Europe, but jackbooted blackness had not quite swept the Continent.
Author Alan Furst is the Master of Spy historical fiction. Be careful– he’s addictive!
In 2012 I toured Napoleon’s boyhood home on the Mediterranean island of Corsica
That visit, ignited a late in life interest in the great soldier-statesman. I’d read two Napoleon biographies before I landed on this one. Fantastic! Considered the “definitive” single volume history by some.
“The Orphan Master’s Son”” an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.”The tale of a Korean boy who grows up to work for the dark side of N. Korea’s government. Hard to read. Hard to put down. It won a Pulitzer for Fiction. Read it. If you’ve got the guts.
Remember Hurricane Harvey??— In Houston, a reported 95% of the telco cell network stayed up. Houston area cell providers promised to harden the network after Katrina- and they did just that! —- As a result, nearly all communications with public safety agencies during Harvey were conducted on the working commercial cell and POTS infrastructure.
Zello ( is a push-to-talk app for mobile devices and PCs.) with 120 million users around the world. Available wherever there’s WiFi or data service. And unlike “walkie-talkies”, there are no limits to users, channels or category of use. Over 1 million Houston area citizens downloaded the Zello app in a single day during Harvey.
In the Houston area, people got on Zello the “radio” and self-formed local networks—-Complete with map-based location identifiers—-Hurricane Harvey was what one media outlet called the first Social media Hurricane. Citizens created “family” groups, “neighborhood” groups, “work” groups, “School” groups to name a few. And they had easy transparent communications between them all.
During Harvey the ARRL Houston ARES PIO, Mike Urich, KA5CVH suggested (in a surprisingly candid interview), that hams didn’t have much on-air work to do at the”EOC”.
ARRL South Texas Public Information Officer Mike Urich, KA5CVH, told ARRL on August 30 that “hardening” of the telecommunications infrastructure to make it more immune to storm damage has diminished the need for Amateur Radio communication support and altered hams’ traditional role there. Urich pointed out, however, that the Amateur Radio telecommunications infrastructure in South Texas has remained analog, as “the lowest common denominator” of technology — VHF/UHF FM, and HF — and has the highest degree of interoperability. “That’s what we train to, that’s what we teach, that’s what we practice,” he said.— SOURCE: ARRL Web site.
The Senhaix 60 (at top)– is a radio entry to the network. Loaded with Zello it becomes an invaluable tool in communications that people used via smart phone (by the 10’s of thousands) with zero training during Hurricane Harvey and other events.
This emerging class of software and devices has enabled people to bypass the need for a “license” to communicate via “radio”. —- Harvey demonstrated that Ham Radio and even Local Government traditional EmComm models are obsolete.—- One Houston area Gov’t organization said early on in a bulletin to the public— Do not use Social Media— we won’t get to you Call us on the phone!—- Guess what? The public ignored them. Within 24 hours the local agency changed their tune. Even the US Coast Guard found it hard to break from the tired/linear model —They implored citizens to “Call us on the Phone” They too, backed off when literally hundreds of thousands of people in Houston were using various Self-formed networks made easy by apps like Zello and WAZE. One smart coder- soon after Harvey’s land-fall, created a “crowd-source” rescue web site to aggregate rescues in the region. The data was credible in showing the status of rescues for all to see. Complete or Pending. (Or who is left out there needing help??!!)— The Web site was quickly seized upon as a real-time “live” Database for localities to determine who needed rescuing. Further, in the shallow yet flooded streets of Houston, Rescue teams in boats could not see where the streets were— so they used WAZE for accurate navigation to reach those needing help. Add the powerful GPS tracking app GLYMPSE that many used — the decentralization of communications is a far more efficient model than that of Ham radio.
KA5CVH, Mike Urich said the emcomm Hams assisted in the “EOC” as being “another set of eyes and ears”. He noted how a senior EOC official needed a specific trailer hitch and Mike got online and researched it for him.– This was an example of the Ham Radio team’s contribution. “When all else fails” Urich noted that they go for the “lowest common denominator” analog systems that work and have the widest interoperability.
This model uses the most rudimentary ham radio gear and skills. “That’s what we train to, that’s what we teach, that’s what we practice,” The many “digital modes” available to Hams are not used.
Ham Radio emcomm’s “rai·son d’ê·tre” is evaporating. The Newington propagandists will continue to promote the “When all else fails” myth But it won’t matter. They live in an echo chamber. Technology and the public have left Ham radio behind.
QUICK!! You live in California– Huge wildfires are licking at your door. The next few hours will be critical to your family’s safety. You can pick up your smart phone or a 2 meter rig. Which device do you take?
Yes, there will be events where the inefficient /traditional/analog workflow model of Ham Radio will still be useful. But as Networks become hardened, and as more devices like the Senhaix emerge, the relevance of Ham Radio emcomm will be exposed for what it is. An anachronism from the analog past.
Oh the gadget above: The Senhaix 60 is the natural evolution of the Wireless Device environment. More will surely follow.
In June 1982 as a Cameraman for NBC News based in Washington D.C. every Saturday for a month, I was assigned to stake out the U.S. Federal Courthouse where the trial of attempted Presidential assassin John Hinckley was underway. All the networks and the print media set up on the front lawn of the courthouse. (This was back when Federal Courthouse security was waaaay laxer than it is today.) Our job was to await new developments and the lawyers would periodically come out and stand in front of the microphones and update the press. We in the Press Corps called the setting, “Hinckley Beach” since it was summer and little happened until the end of the trial. We’d bring lawn chairs, coolers, and umbrellas to beat the DC summer heat and humidity.
One weekend, I threw my Kenwood TS-130 HF rig in the microwave truck and and a Hustler Mobile Whip that I mounted on an upside down trash can (a faux ground) and set it up on the roof of the van. A Washington Post photographer thought my radio set up was interesting and shot the photo above. It didn’t make it into the paper, but he sent me a copy.
My recollection is, I worked a lot of DX on 15 meters that day. I declared myself a “Special Event” station and foreign hams would express surprise when I told them where I was operating from. Surely operating from the courthouse would be prohibited! I was on the air, MC-60 mic in hand when this photo was taken. It was fun.
NOTE: Some years later (mid 90’s) I would see Hinckley up close and photograph him thanks to (Bearcat Scanners)….but that’s another story for another time(and video too!)
It took me 6 years to get my undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. I had the GI Bill, and I worked part-time in FM radio and television and I was in No hurry!! Who wanted to leave Austin in the 70’s?!?
I picked up an FCC 1st Phone Ticket and got an entry-level gig in Austin at KLRN-TV and KLRN FM Radio.
I was a “go-fer” on the PBS Music Show Austin City Limits (which is still on the air!) and most summers I went out and worked Pipeline Construction around the nation. (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, W. Virginia and Texas of course.) As I finally was getting around to graduating I sent my Resume all over the country. I got a job as a VR (Vacation Relief) at NBC Washington. I was made a permanent hire 3 weeks after I started.
In DC there were always lots of cool courses on the various campus sites in the city. NBC paid for coursework that was related to your professional responsibilities. I took at least 10 continuing education classes over the years– from graduate programs in the area. When GE bought NBC– the CEO Jack Welch was a Six Sigma evangelist! So everyone from middle level management up was required to achieve Six Sigma Green Belt certification. It was part of your annual review! And it was mandatory! I moved to ABC on the West Coast in the 2000’s and ITIL certification was mandatory for tech-management there. I’m not much for mathematics– but I actually passed both (Six-Sigma and ITIL). I wish I’d learned them earlier in my career. Life-long continuing education is no longer optional.
After spending 20 years in the field as a Cameraman/Editor/Field producer/Tech Ops TD, I took a Masters Degree at American University in Washington DC and then I moved into management. The AU graduate program was a blast. Most of the students were mid-career professionals from around the city. I could not have had more fun in an academic program. They invited me back to teach in the Film and Video program as adjunct faculty. I taught one semester a year while working in management at NBC Washington. And then in 2003 I took a management position at ABC in Los Angeles.
Footnote: My favorite Media production “Learning” environment? Lynda.Com It is a part of LinkedIn and owned by Microsoft. Quality software apps and business process learning. If you’re not familiar with it— You should take a look.