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March 2011

March 2011


· HR-607

· Writing for viral media

· PR-101 now downloadable

· So is scout MoU video

· FD logo

· Have a clue

· Ideas from a Cision tip sheet

· What is Field Day

· Where’s the salutation

· We knew that

· The Last Word


By now I hope you are fully aware of the threat that HR-607 poses to our use of the 420-440 MHz. Information about it is on our website at . If you look at the left margin, you will see more links for sample letters and information on how to help. This is an “all hands on deck” call – we need you! The frequencies involved are used by many Amateur Radio activities.

The PR angle to this is that the general bill is posed to support police, firemen and other security activities. It is hard to go against that concept – and we’re not. We have no problems with the reassignment/auctioning of UNUSED frequencies. But 420-440 MHz IS used by a variety of Amateur Radio activities.

There is no question that the best way to get the bill changed is to have a personal contact with your own Congressional representative. But truth be known, most folks cannot or will not do that. You and I know we hear a lot of talk, but often little action out there. The majority of people need a lot of hand-holding, and for this reason we have developed a form letter that they can just fill in and sign.

I also ask you to make sure they sign the letter and mail the letter to John Chwat & Co. Mailing it direct to their representative takes too long to get there due to the security issues they have in place. (You can thank the Anthrax mailer for that one.) John collects them and then uses them for face-to-face meetings with representatives.

By US Mail - Send to:
John Chwat
Chwat & Co.
625 Slaters Lane
Suite 103
Alexandria, VA 22314

By Fax - Send to: 703-684-7594

It is amazing the percentage of hams that have already responded, but did not follow directions! Unsigned letters and emails, announcements just forwarded on, faxes without signatures on them – all these have been seen. As PIOs you have a real task before you in the coming weeks... to educate the hams themselves, motivate action, get people to follow directions and meanwhile keep the message on target that “we are against the bill as written” and that it needs to omit changes to 420-440.

Here at HQ we’ll be doing all we can to help you. I expect more materials and information to be coming out before long. I recommend you sign up for the Legislative Alert newsletter. Of course I would also like every ham to become an ARRL member.

Writing for Viral Media:

Writing a release for a website article or other Internet news?

Read it in under 2 minutes at most

250 words long is MAX

65-70 characters is max for headline

Get to the point, stay on the point

5th grade reading level

Keep an average < 1.7 syllable words for whole article (Dan Zarella study of re-Tweeted info)

For Twitter - don't forget a good hashtag

Always include a hyperlink

PR-101 is now downloadable

Good news for PIOs... You can now download the PR-101 course.

While ordering the actual CD disk still costs money, you can download the PR-101 course for free from . There are two files – a text file explaining how to do it and the big zipped file of the entire course itself. (Start by reading the text file about it.)

When you have completed the course and are ready to take the final exam, you will need to email me ( to get an entry code for the on-line final exam. That way I know who took it and what the outcome was.

Now there’s no excuse not to get the best training available for Amateur Radio PIOs, the PR-101 course.

So is the Scout MoU video

Involved in Scouting? Looking for a good video discussion starter for your club? Want a short video to show hams involved in community life? The short video made by the BSA during the signing of the new MoU is also available for you to download at

Use this logo for your club's newsletter, web site, or club signs to promote your Field Day activities! But remember, the logo may not be reproduced on apparel or other commercial items. Contact the “Permissions Requests” folks at ARRL for any other use of this logo at

Have a clue!

When talking to legislators or media it is very helpful to know some numbers. They like numbers!!

Two numbers you should know – or have an accurate approximation for – are:

How many hams in the USA -

How many hams in your section -

Ideas from A Cision Best Practices Tip Sheet

Keep headlines and subheads short, sweet and to the point. Use the top one or two keywords within the first 65-100 characters of the headline. Search engines read from left to right and some have a 100-character limit for headlines, so make sure your heading gets right to the point. And because search engines read like we do, top to bottom, use keywords in the first two paragraphs for maximum impact.

An optimized release is easily shared – the more inbound links it gets from readers, the higher it will rank with search engines. When you’re writing, keep "sharability" in mind. Information nuggets in 140-character chunks can be more easily tweeted.

Weave in hyperlinks. Hyperlinked keywords that take readers to web pages where they can get more corporate or product information, download a podcast or a white paper, or register for an event.

Use restraint. If you overuse keywords or anchor text, you risk confusing both reader and search engine. If you “salt” your social media release with too many keywords – more than five – you could ruin the whole dish. Likewise, offer only two to three hyperlinks per 400-word release to make sure each link has the most impact.

Link to multiple pages. You need only link once to your main home page. Use the other hyperlinks in your release to direct readers to other, and perhaps more relevant, pages on your site that they’ll find useful – and increase traffic to those pages too.


What is Field Day?

Field Day is a picnic, a campout, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN!

ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public. For many clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar.

The contest part is simply to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate our radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions.

We use these same skills when we help with events such as marathons and bike-a-thons; fund-raisers such as walk-a-thons; celebrations such as parades; and exhibits at fairs, malls and museums — these are all large, preplanned, non-emergency activities.

But despite the development of very complex, modern communications systems — or maybe because they ARE so complex — ham radio has been called into action again and again to provide communications in crises when it really matters. Amateur Radio people (also called “hams”) are well known for our communications support in real disaster and post-disaster situations.

What is the ARRL?

The American Radio Relay League is the 156,000+ member national association for Amateur Radio in the USA. ARRL is the primary source of information about what is going on in ham radio. It provides books, news, support and information for individuals and clubs, special events, continuing education classes and other benefits for its members.

What is Amateur Radio

Often called “ham radio,” the Amateur Radio Service is a worldwide community of licensed operators using the airwaves with every conceivable means of communications technology. It is made from people who enjoy learning and being able to transmit voice, data and pictures through the air to unusual places, both near and far, without depending on commercial systems.

The Amateur Radio frequencies are the last remaining place in the usable radio spectrum where you as an individual can develop and experiment with wireless communications. Hams not only can make and modify their equipment, but create whole new ways to do things.

June 25-26, 2011


Where’s the salutation?

According the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 7) the use of the opening salutation “Dear ____” in email messages sets the tone for that relationship and shows respect. The lack of it can seem cold.

We already know that email is dangerous and has a tense and often negative emotion built right into the means of communicating. This is why you see so many :-) and other emoticons. The inclusion of the salutation “Dear ___” is not necessarily because the person is actually dear to us, but aids in overcoming that problem and “remains a standard of intelligent business people.”

We knew that

When the January 26 snowstorm crippled much of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, 9-1-1 communications systems were being criticized by many, including officials with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Various jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, reported that during the height of the storm, thousands of 9-1-1 emergency calls made by cell phones went dead as a result of extremely high call volume and snow damage to actual phone towers and lines. The chief of the FCC public safety and homeland security bureau said that problem may be occurring nationwide. Another expert was quoted as saying, “The system is going to go down if it gets overloaded. That’s just a fact. We should be looking at snowstorms as an opportunity to test and perfect our systems. If we can’t handle a snowstorm, there is a very good likelihood that we can’t handle a terrorist attack, and that’s the problem.” Source:

Another classic demonstration of loss of reliable cell phone and cell phone texting was very evident before and after launch of Space Shuttle STS-133 on 24February2011 in Titusville, FL. Tens of thousands gathered to witness the launch of Shuttle Discovery on the last mission before its retirement. For a period of a couple of hours before and after launch, cell phone users, texters, photo senders, etc. were unable to establish communications links, even though signal strength was at 4 or 5 bars. The throngs of users of cell based devices appeared to have completely overloaded the wireless telecommunications system in the entire area. (Pete Heins, N6ZE)

The Last Word

February has been a very long and difficult month. It started with Egypt and erronious claims of Amateur Radio coordination. Then came one storm after another, after another. Ice mountains and glaciers formed around HQ in Connecticut, but we were far from alone in getting hammered by Ma Nature. The New Zealand earthquake and HR-607 added to the pile of concerns. I am quite glad to see the end of February.

One of the brighter lights on the winter’s gloom has been the ability to now make PR-101 freely downloadable. While ordering the actual disk will still be at cost, this new option gives you the chance to increase your skills and takes away many excuses. But there were questions asked about why I kept the requirement that you still needed to email me for the final exam entry codes. The simple answer is that I want to know what is happening out there. For better or worse, there is an element of personal involvement with ARRL appointed PIOs. I really want them to have success, feel good and enjoy their role. Keeping in 1:1 contact, even if only by emailing out computer codes, helps maintain that bond. I also get notice when someone takes the final exam, how they did and if they passed. That also helps, for at the bottom of it all Amateur Radio is people.

Thanks to all the contributors that aided in this month’s CONTACT! Thanks to Director Brian Mileshosky for his work on the Boy Scout MoU and Director Bob Vallio for his continuing work with the NAB convention. Thanks also to all the PIOs that made the February Media Hits page so very long – lots of really good hits this month. Let’s do it again (without the snow).

Allen w1agp


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