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League’s Centennial “the Most Extraordinary Event” for ARRL President

01/01/2015

As the ARRL’s Centennial drew to a close, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, reflected that the year-long celebration helped to rejuvenate Amateur Radio by including as many people as possible, providing lots of on-the-air fun, and promoting learning and doing. She also believes that the spirit of the Centennial will live on going forward, as Amateur Radio enters its second century.

“The ARRL Centennial has been the most extraordinary event in my Amateur Radio life,” President Craigie remarked. “How fortunate I am to have been a ham in this anniversary year, let alone to have been President of the ARRL.”

President Craigie said that Centennial activities, such as the Centennial QSO Party and the W1AW portable operations in all 50 US states and some territories, were aimed at giving members a chance to learn, to feel, and to do, and in the process generating positive feelings about being a part of Amateur Radio and of the ARRL. “We wanted members to have fun participating in activities, both in person — at the national and regional conventions — and on the air,” she recounted. “We wanted the events and experiences to be inclusive — something all members could participate in, if they wanted to.”

So, every member was given a point value in the Centennial QSO Party. And, recognizing that not everyone could come to the National Centennial Convention in Hartford, the League designated several major ham radio gatherings around the US as regional centennial conventions, so everyone would have an opportunity to participate. Convention forums as well as information and articles in QST and in electronic media provided something every member could learn from and enjoy, she said.

“I recall suggesting that we could move W1AW around the country,” she said. I was just thinking about the call areas, but the staff exploded that into every state and several territories.”

“Because of the good work done by the ARRL Headquarters staff and a huge number of enthusiastic volunteers all over the country, the Centennial successfully achieved those goals beyond what we were able to imagine,” President Craigie said. “Thousands of ARRL members chased W1AW and worked each other across the bands and modes, having tremendous fun doing it. In QSOs and on their QSL cards, members told me how much they appreciate what the ARRL does for Amateur Radio.”

President Craigie pointed out that not only was the greater Amateur Radio community enjoying itself on the air, but that some people who had been inactive for years got back on to be part of the Centennial. As the most dramatic example, she pointed to an anecdote that Northern Arizona DX Association President Bob Wertz, NF7E, related on the back of his QSL card to her. Wertz reported having worked an operator who had been off the air for 45 years but told him he “just had to get back on for the Centennial QSO Party.”

“I was his first QSO after those 45 years,” Wertz observed. “We ragchewed, and I welcomed him back!” The Centennial QSO Party was “such a positive event for the League,” he told President Craigie.

“I’ve heard about other people who had been inactive for 20 or 25 years,” the League President continued. “I also had contacts with a number of brand-new hams, for whom the Centennial year was ‘Year One’ in their ham radio lives. For a few of them, I was their first QSO on HF. They got to chase W1AW and to work the QSO Party as part of their introduction to Amateur Radio. Lucky them!”

President Craigie said she contacted operators who told her they had qualified for WAS because of the Centennial operating events. “I feel good that our operating events had something for experienced operators, newbies, and even people who had lost interest in ham radio,” she said.

President Craigie said that as the Centennial year played out, people were stopping by on her frequency just to say how much fun they’d had helping the League to celebrate its 100th anniversary. “One member said he had not been on HF for 20 years, sticking to VHF, but got back on HF for the Centennial. Another member said he thought the events have been a huge shot in the arm for Amateur Radio.”

“It really is all about the people and the fun,” she observed.

At the end of the year, President Craigie reported, she had logged some 16,000 contacts during 2014, most of them from calling “CQ Centennial.”

“For the first time in my life I was the most popular kid in school,” she quipped. “I won’t forget the rush of that feeling when I’m back to being just another signal from Virginia.

President Craigie said some have been asking what the ARRL will do next. She said that while the League doesn’t want to wear out the exuberance and goodwill the Centennial events engendered, “it’s clear that operating challenges outside of the traditional menu of contests and awards have a great appeal.” She expressed the hope that, in the months and years ahead, all hams will seek out other operating challenges sponsored by all sorts of ham radio groups and keep the bands alive with signals.

“To everybody: Thanks for coming to the birthday party!” she concluded. “Happy New Year!



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