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ARRL 2017 Annual Report Focuses on Hurricane Response


The ARRL 2017 Annual Report, which highlights the organization’s efforts and activities throughout 2017, is now available. Starting with the cover photo, Amateur Radio’s response to the Atlantic hurricane season figures prominently in the report. Amateur Radio has repeatedly been the only means of communication into or out of an area affected by a natural disaster. Puerto Rico was especially hard hit by Hurricane Maria, and the cover depicts an October 4 message from the Mayor Carlos Mendez of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, calling for an Amateur Radio operator to support communication between his town and the capital city of San Juan.

In his message to ARRL members, President Rick Roderick, K5UR, suggested that a paradigm shift is under way within Amateur Radio.

“The wants and needs of the new generation hams are very different from those of ‘traditional’ hams — of which I consider myself one,” Roderick wrote. “[W]e’ve got to embrace and meet the challenges of new technological developments and the operating trends of the next generation. It’s a different landscape than when I started. ARRL is there to support and promote these new things as outlined in our mission statement — to advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio — and to fight for our spectrum allocations, but the organization does not ‘own’ Amateur Radio. That ownership rests with hams.” Roderick said seeds for change planted in 2017 are starting to sprout, as ARRL also adapts to a changing Amateur Radio environment.

In his report, CEO Barry Shelley, N1VXY, looked back on what he called “a remarkable year” for ARRL — one that first and foremost was defined by change.

“Much of the change could be considered internal to the organization, and not always visible. But the changes that occurred helped create new ways to face and deal with some of the challenges presented throughout the year.”

Shelley said ARRL faced a series of continuing challenges during 2017, but said those challenges “presented opportunities for the organization to show how we can respond and show people, in a very public way, the capabilities of the Amateur Radio Service. One of the biggest challenges we faced in 2017 — and one of the most public — was the response to the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and southeastern part of the United States.”

The Emergency Preparedness Department reported an upward trend in Amateur Radio Emergency Service activity. “An increase in reported activity was noted during the months of August through November, due to Amateur Radio response activity for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; wildfires in the western US, and the total solar eclipse that occurred on August 21,” the report recounted. The narrative tells how additional Ham Aid program equipment was on its way to Puerto Rico by September 9 in response to Hurricane Irma. After Hurricane Maria, more Ham Aid packages were dispatched to Puerto Rico with 22 Red Cross/ARRL volunteers.

“During the 2017 hurricane season, particularly after the damage hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico, ARRL experienced a significant increase in awareness of Amateur Radio and the service that ham radio operators can offer in times of emergency,” the report noted.

The ARRL VEC Department summary pointed out, “Interest in Amateur Radio took an upturn in the second half of the year, due to a heightened awareness of Amateur Radio’s potential role during natural disasters.”

Other highlights:

  • Amateur Radio gained two new bands in 2017, due in significant part to ARRL’s efforts to convince the FCC to allow amateur access to parts of the spectrum below the Standard Broadcast Band.

  • A QST redesign developed during 2017, rolling out with the January 2018 issue which was met with widespread praise. “Keep talking to us,” Ford implored members in an editorial about the redesign. “We’ll keep listening, and making changes as needed.”

  • A generous donation from Dr. Ed Snyder, W1YSM, of Wallingford, Connecticut, has endowed a fund to support the ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative (CARI).

  • From a financial perspective, 2017 was a good year for ARRL. Overall revenues were up and expenses were down, resulting in ARRL producing a $1.4 million gain from operations.

  • The Annual Report includes a comprehensive auditor’s report and financial statements.