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Kirk Pickering, K4RO, Named 14th Editor of NCJ


Kirk Pickering, K4RO, of Pegram, Tennessee, has been named Editor of the National Contest Journal (NCJ). His first issue as Editor will be the January/February 2012 issue. Pickering takes over from Al Dewey, K0AD, of Plymouth, Minnesota, who has served as NCJ Editor since 2008.

“In the fall of 2003, I ran into Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, at W0DXCC convention in Minneapolis,” Dewey told the ARRL. “At the time, Carl was the NCJ Editor. I had not seen Carl in almost 40 years when we were both new hams in Northwest Indiana. Carl surprised me by asking if I would be interested in taking over as NCJ Editor when he was ready to give it up. I thought about it a lot and decided I was. Several years later, we agreed that the time to do this would be with the January/February 2008 issue. Since 1973, the role of Editor has changed hands 13 times. One reason I believe that NCJ has survived all these years is that editorial responsibility has changed frequently. This allows for new ideas and perspectives to be constantly injected into the publication. After some soul-searching earlier this year, I concluded that it was time for me to pass the baton.”

Pickering, who has been licensed since 1976, began writing the “Contesting 101” column in NCJ in 2008. “I’ve been chasing DX since 1986, and in 1994, I began entering contests. My current interests are mostly contesting and DXing. I tend to enjoy CW contesting the most, but I do RTTY and phone contests, too. I also like to tinker in the workshop and learn about how this magic medium of radio works.”

Dewey said that Pickering’s “clear, easy-to-understand style has helped to make radiosport a little less intimidating for the new contester. Kirk and I had a long talk at Dayton this year and I am convinced that he is the person for the job.” As NCJ Editor, Pickering will be responsible for soliciting and finding articles for each issue, determining content for each issue, pre-editing all submissions, writing an editorial, determining the content for each issue’s cover, organizing and delivering content to ARRL Headquarters for each issue, managing the existing columnists and finding new ones when necessary, and proofreading each issue before it goes to print.

“When I came on board as NCJ Editor, I was nervous about two things,” Dewey recalled. “First, would I be able to come up with content every month? Secondly, since I was still working full time -- what would happen if I got real busy at work at the same time NCJ was due to go to press? I knew that delaying the issue was not an option. My first fears were generally unfounded, as most authors were willing to work with the deadlines. As for my second concern, I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms at night (while travelling for work), working on the next issue of NCJ on my laptop.”

Pickering said that his concerns parallel somewhat with Dewey’s: “I’m concerned that I won’t be able to find sufficient content for each issue, and that deadlines will come too fast. I’m also concerned that I won’t be operating as much, because I’m writing about it more!”

But Dewey said that Pickering shouldn’t have anything to worry about. “My favorite part of being NCJ Editor was meeting so many people in the contesting community,” he said. “Not only the regular NCJ columnists and authors, but also all the contesters I met at Dayton and Visalia. I especially liked working with NCJ Managing Editor Rick Lindquist, WW3DE. It was great to work with Production Supervisor Shelly Bloom, WB1ENT (who did the layout work for each issue), Graphic Design Supervisor Sue Fagan, KB1OKW (who designed NCJ’s creative and artistic covers), Production Coordinator Maty Weinberg, KA1EIB (who managed the production of each issue), and Production Department Manager Steve Ford, WB8IMY, at ARRL Headquarters. Words of encouragement by readers were also much appreciated. It was also a kick when I would be working someone in a contest and they would say something like ‘nice job.’”

NCJ was founded by Tod Olson, K0TO, of Long Lake, Minnesota. In his editorial for the very first issue of NCJ (January/February 1973), Olson described the motivational purpose of the publication: “We believe that a genuine desire exists for more information about Radio Contests. Most of us have an interest in learning about other stations, operators, etc that we find in competition with us.” Olson said he used reports gleaned from the National Traffic System to gather claimed scores from various contests. This enabled him to print the likely winners of each contest in NCJ months before the contest sponsors published the official results.

Publication for the first three years was done with typewriters and offset printing. Each issue was 16 pages in 5”×7.5” format. After printing, issues were assembled at Olson’s home and mailed from a local post office. Now NCJ boast 44-48 pages in an 8.5”×11” format, and each issue is professionally printed.

NCJ is published bimonthly. The subscription rate (6 issues) in the US is $20. For First Class US delivery, it’s $28; in Canada and internationally by airmail, it’s $32. Subscribe to NCJ today.



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