A startling reminder

I always look forward to receiving my QST and CQ magazines each month, and I dutifully run to the CQ web site every month when the latest PDF of Worldradio News is made available for download. I really do enjoy reading about our hobby and appreciate the authors who contribute to these publications (for very little money in return). Shoot, I even study the ads, including those that have not changed in decades. (Why do some vendors insist on showing the faces of every radio by every manufacturer, as if we make our purchasing decisions based on those tiny thumbnails? And will MFJ ever change the full-page Hy-Gain rotator ad?)

However, as I opened the current edition of CQ, I could not help but notice that the lead article is about all the new gear unveiled at Dayton this year. Dayton. As in May! And it’s August. We once took such delay in a story’s content as the norm. It is, after all, the nature of the magazine publishing biz that there must be considerable lead time.

But as I read the short writeup on the Elecraft KX3, I recalled that there was a YouTube video posted way back on May 20 featuring Wayne Burdick K6XR giving a very enlightening ten-minute demo of this interesting bit of kit. In color. With sound. Old news in CQ? I’m afraid so.

ARRL recently did a major update on their web site, but it is still clunky and hard to navigate. It does offer some video (welcome to the 21st century) and plenty of archived articles and reviews, all of which is much more current, colorful, and searchable than the magazine could ever be. CQ is also trying, buying World Radio News and offering it as a free download.

But I have to worry that the day will come when it is no longer economically feasible to mail me a magazine every month. I still prefer taking that paper-and-stapled pub out on the deck to read, or to Subway at lunch to peruse while I enjoy my Black Forest ham sandwich.

Won’t happen, you say? The traditional magazine will never go away. Okay, can I see your latest copy of Look or Life? Mind if I borrow your Saturday Evening Post?

I rest my case. Truth is, media consumers want their content in a wide variety of ways, and will choose such media on three primary criteria: 1) How easy it is to consume in all those myriad ways, 2) How compelling the content is, and 3) How cheap it is to access.

I’m afraid that does not bode well for QAT and CQ.


Don Keith N4KC


Don Keith, N4KC, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Alabama, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “A startling reminder”

  • Matt W1MST:

    I agree with many of your points, Don. But I have to admit that I still enjoy receiving paper magazines and reading paper books.

    Every year or so I play with the latest Kindle and the other eBook readers and just have a hard time getting excited about them. The same is true with reading a magazine on the computer or via some kind of app.

    Count me as one who really enjoys reading paper magazines, CQ and QST included. I love seeing the full page ads from radio manufacturers. It gives me hope that our hobby is alive and well enough to justify paying (and pay they do!) for these full-page print ads.

  • Goody K3NG:

    World Radio News/Online took the printed paper product and put it into a PDF. You get the worst of both worlds; it has the delay of a printed publication and the rigidity of a PDF, totally missing the concept of online content. They basically took a dinosaur and put it on wheels and called it an automobile. I’m puzzled why they put news and current events in it because anyone who is online reads the same information days or weeks before it’s in WRO.

    I agree with what you mention about the ARRL site. Cosmetically it is much better than the previous 1990’s looking website, but they crammed all the content into expandable sections on each page which is a real pain to navigate. This is one of those cases where one size doesn’t fit all.

  • Dan W5WCM:

    I’m one of those who prefer the electronic format to a printed and mailed magazine. I even asked ARRL if I could opt-out of the printed QST, since I can get it online anyway. I’m all for saving a few trees and postage. They said that their advertisers won’t allow that. I guess the advertisers only know how to quantify the old media. Looking at the other periodicals you mentioned, it seems like digital distribution will be the only way to survive. I hope QST can find a way to survive and be relavent to my generation and still provide the printed format for those who prefer it.

  • Robert Gulley AK3Q:

    I am one of those anachronistic folks who really like having something in my hands to read; the feel of the page, the size of the paper, etc.. I have tried online versions of magazines and I can tell you a number of them go unread every month until I have a reading “fest” now and again. The paper magazines get read almost as soon as they come.
    As for the comments about “breaking” news, I think magazines will have to move away from that format to something which is more content driven — such as more interesting stories or in-depth coverage of something. Most of us now get the breaking news through numerous sources such as emails, message boards, and blogs/websites. I really enjoy the content of an in-depth story, and that is something the emails and blog posts will not replace anytime soon.

    Robert AK3Q

  • Bruce Steel ZL1AAO:

    Good points and not every one has super fast internet. I do prefer the hard copy! Many of my magazines have done the rounds too…. passed on amongst friends and later traded on “ebay” or equivvalent. There are still boxes of valued reading material at our “junk sales!”
    Bruce ZL1AAO

  • Tom Kb3hg:

    Yes, the ARRL site format is terrible, But whats worse is the magazine articles refer you so the obscure location within the ARRL site that I cannot seem to ever find. I did email my opinion to the ARRL when they changed formats of the Web page.
    Staring at monitors, LCD screens, LED screens is very hard on my eyes, can’t seem to do it very long. I personally detest video content and loading all the overhead with the ads, I prefer reading. Miss the Ham Radio Ham Radio Horizons and other related mags.
    I realize that the E-books are coming and i saw a kindle that had a screen that was easy to read from, but technology marches on and a rolling stone gathers no moss. Onward and upward.
    Tom Kb3hg

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