Posts Tagged ‘ICQPodcast’

The Future(s) of Amateur Radio

The Sutton & Cheam Radio Society in England invited me to give a talk via Zoom recently. The topic was the future of amateur radio. As a Sociologist and Statistician, I’ve commented frequently both in this blog and on the ICQ Podcast about how to “future” on a given topic. Social change is challenging to forecast in specific terms. But more importantly, knowledge of how to “future” can lead to changes in organizational aspects of the social fabric that gave rise to the present. A mouthful? Yes, but so is “The magnitude of the complex impedance is the ratio of the voltage amplitude to the current amplitude; The phase of the complex impedance is the phase shift by which the current lags the voltage.” (Source) And, we hams can follow that, right?

The ICQ Podcast decided to use the audio portion of that talk as the feature in Episode 326. The disadvantage that podcast listeners face is not having access to the slides that the Sutton & Cheam Society members were viewing as I spoke. I’ve included them here for those who wish to more fully follow my talk. A video of 10 seconds per slide is below. The future is for amateurs to help make. Your ham radio associations are a vital element of which “future” you choose to help make for there are many futures available!

This talk will be revised into a written version, launching a column on my companion website,, under the Social Circuits tab. Understanding amateur radio must be approached for what it is, an organized social behavior focusing on the use of specific radio technologies. This periodic Social Circuits column will examine amateur radio as such.

Homebrew Hero 2019 Announced

The Homebrew Heroes Award Program announced its first annual recipient, Hans Summers, Call Sign G0UPL. The recipient is the very popular proprietor of QRP Labs and maker of numerous homebrew style projects in amateur radio. He’s been producing them for over a decade now. The details are available at this link, including a video of the award to Hans.
Hans G0UPL Hero 2019
Being involved with launching the Homebrew Heroes Awards Program with Martin Butler M1MRB and Colin Butler M6BOY on the Steering Committee has been exciting as we’ve been very busy with development since the idea hatched at Xenia Hamvention this past May. But the payoff is seeing the impact that such attention can bring to a most deserving recpient, like Hero 2019 Hans Summers. “I am just blown away by it all!” said Hans when he received the plaque and customized clothing designating him as Homebrew Hero for 2019. This annual award recognizes persons, groups or organizations who help define the frontiers in amateur radio technology through the long-standing tradition of “home brew” construction. This is the first of the annual awards to be given by the new program, housed at the website address, A video of the award is available here. A longer feature interview with Hans is available in Episode 308 of the ICQ Podcast which is the promotional partner of the Award Program.

Xenia Invaded by Orange Shirts! No One Harmed…

This was my first time to visit what is commonly called Dayton. Except now it’s in Xenia. And those who want to ensure that you aren’t a Real Ham if you didn’t attend Dayton wear tee shirts to that affect. So, it’s a thing. But whether you attended the “old” Hamvention or the latest edition in nearby Xenia, that’s a thing, too. And both are ok.

One of our happy and enthusiastic podcast listeners

This year, the ICQ Podcast Team had eight of the eleven “Presenters” (British terminology) come to Hamvention and rent an AirBnB in lovely, historic Lebanon, OH. Colin M6BOY arranged for some of our listeners, including two from another podcast team, to donate toward the cost of producing nice ICQ Podcast Team Polo Shirts. They were hits in that they drew quite a bit of attention as we roved the Greene County Fair Grounds in a pack, except for Dan KN6BU who teaches his One-Day Tech Class most of the day on Saturday. The Team was very humbled by the number of listeners who approached us, several times with $20 bills extended to help with production costs. We enjoy talking about amateur radio but to get these expressions of gratitude from listeners is, well, just a humbling experience. Thank you all who took the time to stop and speak with us about the podcast.

Our AirBnB in historic Lebanon OH

The podcast Team is largely from the UK and a couple hold U.S. amateur licenses but must only use them (and the higher power they are allowed) on American soil. During our conference call to organize this first trip by the European group to the States, I offered to bring one of my portable HF rigs to the house we had secured in Lebanon for them to activate their U.S. call signs for the very first time. Martin M1MRB / W9ICQ and Chris M0TCH / N4CTH were able to do this. Martin worked Cuba but that station never got the last letter of his call. Chris worked a couple of stations but the need for a Snickers Bar side-tracked him. But Edmund M0MNG played Big Gun on the front porch as he worked many stations working Grey Line as the 40M band did it’s nightly thing. Dan KB6NU, of CW Geek fame, kept trying to figure out how to connect a keyer he bought in the bone yard to the transceiver. But, of course, I was not any help with my own rig as I haven’t yet gotten proficient in CW. This was a Yaesu FT-891, running 50 then 90 watts into a Wolf River Coils TIA vertical, powered by a Bioenno 20aH Life4Po battery. And Yuengling refreshments. Martin and I conversed well past our due date for sleep. Being about the same age, Martin and I have developed a close friendship during my first and now second stint working with the podcast. A good time was, indeed, had by all. And no one was harmed in the production of this event!

Yes, her hidden antenna worked!
Martin M1MRB using W9ICQ for the first time

The Team was working quite a number of scheduled, and a few impromptu, interviews with company officials and prominent hams by day (see here), and enjoying visiting with one another by evening. Due to Colin’s midnight editing efforts, we published three time-sensitive product announcement interviews for a special episode on Sunday. But several less time-sensitive ones will come out in the next few months too. We toured WLW, the AM powerhouse of long history near Cincinnati, and the VOA Museum for the Bethany Relay Station. Unique history. And important if you’re a ham radio operator or SWL. The fact that we were doing this tour together after a joint chili dinner with the Amateur Radio Newsline team made it extra special. We thank Neil Rapp of Ham Talk Live for arranging our tour. We compared notes on our individual amateur and broadcast radio experiences while in awe over getting a special instruction on the former 500,000 watt Bethany Relay VOA transmitter. Martin M1MRB and I even got interviewed by the visiting podcast team from Pod People. That was different but most pleasant and enjoyable for us. Good thing that’s an audio-only podcast as we realized we were standing so the NSFW stickers on the back of a pickup truck would have video-bombed our head shots.

Edmund M0MNG working 40M at-will. Dan thinking about how to hook his new keyer to the FT-891. Martin and Chris (hidden) discuss matters Hamvention

Bill N3JIX kept us entertained with his (and my) quirky humor and color-coordinated bandannas. His wit belies his deep understanding of networking radio technology as exhibited in his interview of Gerald Youngblood, President of Flex Radio Systems. Bill and I share a number of common interests outside of amateur radio, including IT which we both have a long history in as well as how libraries work. Ed DD5LP had braces to match his orange team shirt (and new red hair). Ed’s quick-on-the-draw reactions to ham radio discussions was something that I enjoyed immensely. Chris M0TCH has been to the States for work and pleasure several times. So he drove the van. And that was both a good and safe thing. Even though I’m from the States, I had driven 12 hours up and really appreciated the break from driving. Chris was already a friend through our podcast experiences but it was a real delight to spend time with him in person.

But it would be a real contest to see whose sense of humor was best. Some dry, some loud, some witty. But all great in-person QSOs from a team that meets online every two weeks to record a podcast. We missed those Team members who could not make the trip. I truly hope we can do this again whether it’s in Xenia or across the pond. If so, look for the horde of orange shirts. They don’t bite. But they do have fun when it comes to amateur radio.

Team ICQ Podcast at Hamvention for a group photo

Bummer: Work Howard Event Canceled

A solid 1960’s saying for disappointing but not tragic events was … bummer! That’s fitting for this announcement from the ARRL with the ICQ Podcast’s endorsement. We’d certainly not want an event, no matter how exciting, to get the W1AW station license in dutch with Part 97. After all, the League should lead by setting examples of following the rules.


“Put Howard to Work” Event Canceled
Earlier this week, ARRL announced that ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, would be on the air at W1AW on Monday, May 13, giving ARRL members a chance to chat with the CEO and get to know him better as a ham. An issue was raised, however, that this event may pose a potential FCC rule violation.

The particular rule is §97.113: “A station is also not allowed to transmit communication in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer.”

Given that ARRL is Michel’s employer and that an effort was made to publicize an event at which members of the organization could chat with the CEO, such an event could be perceived as a benefit to the organization. So, out of an abundance of caution and to avoid any potential violation of FCC rules, or even the appearance of a violation, Michel has decided to cancel plans for the “Put Howard to Work” event.

“I’ve operated W1AW before and will continue to do so in the future,” Michel said. “I hope to meet many of you on the air, but only as part of my regular ham radio activities and not as part of an ARRL-promoted event.”

The “Put Howard to Work!” event was conceived by the ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast, on which Michel was a guest on March 31. “We are disappointed, of course, at this turn of events but fully understand and endorse ARRL’s decision,” said ICQ Podcast Presenter Frank Howell K4FMH.

Put That ARRL CEO to Work, Would Ya?

In a recent episode of the ICQ Podcast, I had Howard Michel WB2ITX as my interview guest. He’s the CEO of the American Radio Relay League as of late last year. It was important that Howard get interviewed about League matters as he was hired after a brief misfire to replace the legendary CEO David Sumner K1ZZ. As I told ARRL President Rick Roderick in the Q&A session with him a year or so ago at the Mississippi Section Convention in Jackson, MS, “You guys made a mistake in hiring someone from Wall Street to be CEO of a membership non-profit organization. Don’t make one again.” My Division Director, David Norris K5UZ, was seated in the row in front of me, nodded his head and turned to give me a knowing look. From my interview with Howard Michel, and from what else I’ve seen coming from him, they did not make a mistake.

One of the strategic matters that this new CEO faces is the common perception that Chief Executives are walled-off from the organization’s customers or just come out of their catacombs to glad-hand, smile, and ask for something.

Indeed, if you listen to my interview with him here, I think you’ll find that he has a clear but not tight-fisted vision for making the Headquarters more customer service oriented, inclusive, and modern in it’s business operations. This should yield better service experiences for members. Perhaps equally important, it may attract new members to the League as the 150,000 or so current members pale by comparison to the 750,000 licensed hams in the U.S.

One of the strategic matters that this new CEO faces is the common perception that Chief Executives are walled-off from the organization’s customers or just come out of their catacombs to glad-hand, smile, and ask for something. As error prone as this perception is, there is enough of an everyday reality that validates it to the rank-and-file customer base to make it the default mental setting, so to speak. In addition, there’s the “We’re the ARRL. And You’re Not!” barrier (apologies to the comedian Chevy Chase of Saturday Night Live fame).

As I was listening to Howard respond to my questions, I was pondering these matters. It hit me that it might be informative for all involved if there were opportunities to interact with Howard as just another ham operator so as to “see” him that way as opposed to a mostly a face with a monthly column in QST or on the pages of the ARRL’s website. An idea was formulated on the spot: get him on the air in a mini-event so as to work Howard on the air at W1AW!

Howard WB2ITX at W1AW
(original photo courtesy of ARRL. Graphic rendering by Frank K4FMH

So I sprang this on him without any real sense of how he would respond by asking a one of my final questions: How’d you like to make some news? I proposed that we set up a date and time to appear on W1AW’s station on 20 meters and let the ICQ Podcast team promote it as a joint mini-event where hams could “put the CEO to work” by working WB2ITX on the air. He immediately caught the humorous pun in this and agreed enthusiastically.

Please put May 13, 2019 at 2:00pm Eastern Time on your calendars. Tune your antennas, rigs, and amplifiers (if you have them) to 14.254+/- and put that CEO to work! Howard promises a special QSL card from the League HQ for worked contacts.

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