Register Account

Login Help

August 2009


New Audio PSA – Women can be hams too!

There’s a new 30 second mp3 Public Service Announcement (PSA) available for your use. This one highlights both the interesting technologies of Amateur Radio and the fact that women can be hams too. Thanks to Don Carlson, KQ6FM, again for aiding in these productions!

To submit it to your local radio stations for use, we recommend you download it (right click and “save as” to your computer. Then put it onto a CD and label it well.

Label info should indicate it is a PSA from the ARRL, 30 seconds, an mp3 file, and your contact information if they have any questions. Hopefully you have developed a relationship and know someone at the station as that is the easiest way to introduce PSAs into their programming. If not, this is a good reason to “go visit” and make their acquaintance. Most likely you will find a ham or two as their engineers!

Can YOU do it?

One of the side benefits I have with the Wordpress subscription (besides using it as a place to put drafts and other things to share internally) is that it can upload mp3 files. So, when Don was just finishing up a new audio PSA and I was renewing things, one evening last week the Bear asked me about using the old PR-101 site (now no longer used for PR-101) as a place for people to post their own 30 and 60 sec audio mp3 PSA’s. Heck we might even make some form of a contest out of it! Cost is zero – we already have the capabilities in place.

So… I played a bit with and changed things out to turn it into the PR-101 Audio vault. Take a look.

Remember that the “real” ARRL public service announcements are not there but are located at Media and Public Relations, but here is a place to post, save and play with your own 30 second audio Public Service Announcements.

Making a GOOD audio PSA is still an art form. But with improved computer capabilities and downloadable programs like Goldwave, more and more people could do it -and we have some very talented people out there who like to play with audio and computers. We have heard announcements made up for clubs and special, local events. Here’s your chance to share them with others. Maybe something you did can be used in another place with a little modification.

Send your 30 second mp3 files to me by October 1 with your title for the piece, name and callsign at and show me what you can do. I’ll post it for others to see on the web page. In the meantime we’ll think of some nice recognition for the best one(s).

A few rules:

1) ONLY files in mp3 format can be used. No .wav or other forms as they take too much space.
2) I really want things that can promote Amateur Radio in most any location in the country – or are easily modified to do so
3) Anyone sending icky, nasty material will be beaten in the back of the head with a wet noodle.
4) Remember that this is a place for others to hear and download your work and use it too.

Return of BPL- the Sequel

With the return of the BPL issue to the front burner at the FCC, there will be more and more Twittering and Tweeting about this in days to come. As we found in BPL-1, chasing after many of these promoters is fruitless. They blog and do not care about facts or data as long as they have a story and feel self important. In one recent blog posting the author wrote about how his rural living mother did not have high speed internet and how hams were preventing her from the joys of browsing easily. In this case, I feel sorry for his mother but her plight is no reason to screw up licensed spectrum – nor does it need to be so! Here’s the point (in condensed form), and one that every PIO should be ready to share in a heartbeat…

There are several BPL systems deployed that have not caused any interference problems. Their designers worked cooperatively with the ARRL and they are holding to standards far higher than the FCC’s proposed (first version or current) rules –and they are working just fine! That’s the sad part of it all. If the FCC would really listen and set these same standards as the template for BPL, rather than repeatedly trying to justify their initial mistakes, most of this would be moot.

Changes made to Leonard Award

As you probably read on the main ARRL website page, there have been several changes made to the Bill Leonard, W2SKE Professional Media Award. These are important to you!

As we encounter media people we all hope for accurate, fair and clear reporting of Amateur Radio events. In the past, despite the many contacts and stories that came out each year, there was only one award. Now there are three! Your ability to recognize a professional’s good work is greatly expanded – and in turn we hope that it will increase the amount of good reporting done on the topic of Amateur Radio.

The three awards are roughly divided by the form of the output:

Audio work recognizes radio and other audio formats. This would include interviews done, news reports and such which can be captured into mp3 files.

Video work covers television and other visual news formats that can be captured in mp 4 or DVD.

Printed media covers newspapers, blogs and other text based media.

This fall we will be asking for your help in making these awards well known to all the media outlets in your area. But for now, you yourself need to know about the awards, the recent changes and mention them to reporters and other media as you have opportunity.

Here is the official announcement about it:


This national level, annual award honors three professional journalists whose outstanding coverages in audio, video and print formats best reflect the enjoyment, importance and public service value the Amateur Radio Service (often called “ham” radio).

The Award is divided into three categories, each with its own award

  • Audio formats
  • Visual formats
  • Print and Text formats

The award is sponsored by the ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio. Nominations are judged by members of the ARRL national PR Committee, and the final decision is made by the ARRL Board of Directors at their meeting in January 2010. The winners each receive an engraved plaque and a donation of $250 will be made in each of their names to the charity of their choice. The deadline for nominations is Dec 11, 2009.

The award was created as a tribute to the late CBS News President Bill Leonard, W2SKE, an avid Amateur Radio operator


  • The award is called the Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award.
  • Each recipient must be a professional journalist in print, electronic media or multimedia. The term "professional" refers to full time, part time, stringers, freelancers and contract journalists. In the case of a group project, the recipient may be the group, but only one prize will be awarded.
  • The recipients will receive the award based on their work which appeared in the English language and covers the topics of Amateur Radio in (a) an audio format such as broadcast radio or podcasting; (b) a visual format such as television, movie and other video media; (c) print and text format such as newspapers, news website, magazine or journal. The scope of the work nominated may be a single story or series. The work must have appeared between December 8, 2008 and December 11, 2009 in a commercially-published book, recognized general-circulation (non-trade) daily or weekly newspaper, general or special interest magazine (except publications predominantly about Amateur Radio), commercial or public radio or television broadcast (including services delivered via cable), Internet World Wide Web site operated by a generally-recognized journalistic organization (e.g. newspaper, magazine, broadcast station or network), or multimedia format (e.g. CD-ROM), intended for and readily accessible to the general public within the United States
  • "Amateur Radio" means the activities of licensees, clubs and other organized groups participating in the activity of licensed Amateur Radio or "ham radio," as governed by Part 97 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • The story must be truthful, clear and accurate, reflecting high journalistic standards. The award will be granted to the work deemed the best reflection of the enjoyment, importance and public service value of Amateur Radio. Submission may be by the author of the work, or on his or her behalf by another individual who believes the work merits the award.
  • The winner will be selected by the Public Relations Committee of the American Radio Relay League. The award will be approved by the ARRL Board of Directors at its January meeting. Individuals on the committee who may be related to or have a professional relationship with any applicant will excuse themselves from the deliberations.
  • Only one submission per entrant will be accepted. A group award will count as a single entry. Submit completed application form with appropriate work sample:
  • Audio format: Submit CD with audio file(s) in mp3 format with name of candidate written clearly on each disk.
  • Visual format: Submit CD with mp4 file or DVD of the work with name of candidate written clearly on each disk.
  • Print article: Submit clear, easily readable copy of printed text, any related Web addresses, and 8.5x11 sheets displaying the writing in situ as it appeared to the public.
  • The ARRL reserves the right to withhold the awards for any reason, to grant duplicate awards, or to disqualify any entry. Incomplete nomination submissions will not be considered. All decisions are final.
  • Each of the award winners will receive a plaque and a donation in their name goes to an Internal Revenue Service 501[c](3) recognized non-profit organization of the recipient’s choosing. A winning group entry will receive a single plaque and donation.
  • Submit entries to: ARRL PR Committee, c/o Manager of Media Relations, American Radio Relay League, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
  • Entries may be submitted at any time up to a postmark deadline of December 11, 2009.

For more information about the award, or to obtain a nomination form and the official rules for entry, contact ARRL's Media & Public Relations Department, or call 860-594-0328.

Possibilities with Google?

Hams love to play with new technologies and see what happens. We also enjoy taking things, turning them sideways and seeing what other uses something might be good for.

Walt Palmer, W4ALT, spotted this one. We’re still not sure about it, but it definitely is interesting.

Google is offering a new service: Google Voice.

A free service that allows you to give out a single, unique telephone number that will ring any phones (home, work, cell, pager, VoIP, etc) that you assign to it, simultaneously. It will also deliver voice mail as email and SMS to smart phones and computers.

This service appears to be a “must” for ARES and RACES leadership, as well as members with multiple contact numbers. Comments and experiences with this service could be helpful to others.

Here’s a good idea…

From a story in Nanaimo News Bulletin - BC, Canada

Racing tubs tracked by radio

The Nanaimo Amateur Radio Association took to the airwaves July 26 for an active role in the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race.

And for the first time, the public was able to track the real time progress of the race online by accessing the association’s website portal at

Prior to the race, association operators installed tracking units on two of the competing bathtubs. Drivers' progress was relayed in real time into an interactive map display as they raced through the course. This was possible through two-way digital communications called automatic packet reporting system (APRS) combined with a global positioning system.

The interesting point here is that not only could the race officials see the positioning, but the public at large could also watch it via the Internet. In addition, a screen shot of the APRS system monitor is a natural for TV coverage of events like this! (Then you get to talk about ham radio and all of the other things we can do!)

The Invisible Enemy

Bill Morine, N2COP and Chairman of the national Public Relations Committee, writes:

A recent news article got me fired up. It could have been a really good article about ham radio, but Mark Twain said it right: “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Once again, the demise of Amateur Radio has been heralded in a national trade press journal. And who opined that the lights are dimming for Ham radio? A ham himself.

I haven’t spoken with the operator to whom the quote is attributed, but I think what he really meant to say is that, like many of us, he misses the days when legions of hams openly devoted much of their leisure time to Amateur Radio. The bottom line is that people leave with the impression from the operator’s final words that “Amateur Radio is dying.”

Ouch! That bullet in the foot hurts. I think what the operator was trying to say is a very casual observation that Amateur Radio can appear dying depending on how you look at it. Yes, if you look at traditional ways of measuring participation, formal gatherings of Amateur Radio people may be down, such as at club meetings and at hamfests, although attendance at some hamfests is bouncing back (much like those elusive sunspots). We’ve all said at one time or another that some institution to which we belong is “dying”. The interesting part is that Amateur Radio has supposedly been “dying” for over 70 years – since the dawn of commercial broadcasting. The gist of it is also not true since the number of U.S. licensees has actually been going UP with over 100,000 new hams in just the past four years and still climbing. But image matters and the point is here is that if you say, “Ham radio is dying” over and over, well, guess what? You’re contributing to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I encourage you to read Bowling Alone, a widely available book on the changes since World War II on volunteer, religious and charity participation in 21st century America. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers don’t fulfill their leisure time the same way our parents and grandparents did. Amateur Radio is not the only institution witnessing this phenomenon. Mainline religious denominations and traditional public service and fraternal organizations are experiencing the same declining numbers at formal gatherings as Amateur Radio. However, while these types of forums are seeing declining numbers, other outlets with similar missions are seeing participation through on-line forums, or in non-traditional settings. For every Ham who bemoans operators not showing up for meetings, there are plenty who are sitting at home, usually after a long day of work, tweaking a new digital radio application on his or her laptop. What’s hurting the image of Amateur Radio are the many, many invisible contributions to our hobby that aren’t being publicized. The programmer who’s huddled over his computer at 1 AM testing a new VoiP related ham radio application unfortunately can’t tell his story to a mainstream media outlet reporter at that hour. There are thousands of invisible hams who are making positive contributions to Amateur Radio behind closed doors, and therefore don’t make it onto the radar screen.

So what can you as PIOs do to counter this destructive trend? Educate Amateur Radio leaders in your communities that Amateur Radio clubs and groups are like many American non-profit organizations, and that we need to recognize and adapt to societal changes. The traditional model of the monthly club meeting may see a decline in attendance, but that doesn’t signal that Amateur Radio is dying. Instead, every PIO needs to work harder to find hams in their communities who are contributing in ways outside of the traditional organizational models, and to showcase them.

For every operator who claims our hobby is dumbing down due to the discontinuance of Morse code as a licensing requirement, find the Boy Scout who’s running a kids net on the air, or the science fair winner who designed a new antenna, or the YL deftly running a net, or the disabled veteran who’s placed new EchoLink or IRLP repeaters on the air. They’re out there, and in larger numbers than you think, but they don’t live in the easily identifiable world of yesteryear.

Allen Pitts, W1AGP, ARRL’s Media & Public Relations Manager, authored an article several years ago where he referred to the classic comic strip Pogo in which the named character states, “We’ve met the enemy, and he is us”. Please, tell the operators who say ham radio is dying to change their ways. Find some good stories to share with them about successful operators who don’t fit the old model of doing business. The only “dying” I want to see is the death of the myth that Amateur Radio’s days are numbered.

The Last Word

Recently I happened upon an editorial column in which the leader of another volunteer organization was writing about the number of people who were doing nothing to help in the organization’s goals. As I read along, I felt an anger and frustration in his writing. But then, I wondered who he was actually writing for, who did he think were his readers? The folks who would read the editorial were the good guys who were active. The inactive people would probably never see it – or care.

I hope you never become overwhelmed or turn sour. Yes, we all know of people who take on titles but never do the job. We know of times when despite our best effort, some thoughtless ham makes one negative comment and that’s what gets the story lead. We can all think of reasons to throw up our hands and walk out. But we don’t.

We don’t quit because we love this hobby and we believe it has something to offer the world. We promote it because we have seen the fun, fellowship and even life-saving services that it can provide. To us, those are not just words but realities. This deep, emotional motivation either exists in us or it doesn’t. Being a good PIO is real work, and if there is no “fire in the belly” there are too many other events drawing off our attention for a PIO to stay active.

You have made it this far down the page – so I suspect you are one of our good guys. While we all get frustrated by people who want the benefits but avoid the work involved in securing them, your volunteer services to the ARRL as a PIO are critically important.

Yes, I too could write about people who do nothing and just are dead weight on Amateur Radio, but not here. The readers here are the good guys –and you are one of them.

-Allen, W1AGP


Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn