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November 2011



November 2011

Vol. 9 No. 11

Hams Emergencies and the News Media

How to make friends even if your bird is gone

Get Interest with TIP SHEETS

Pat – “ya dun gud!”

Write for CSM


Grade Your Press Release

ARRL HQ on YouTube

Getting Creative

IS 250

How’s your website?

National Weather Service Honors Hams Dec 3

Leonard Award Nominations Due

New codes have logo options

The Last Word

Hams Emergencies and the News Media

Join us for a Webinar on November 3rd. Space is limited so reserve your Webinar seat now at:

In the tornadoes, fires, hurricane, floods and drought of this past year, radio amateurs did wonderful service for their communities. But how much of it got into the media? How can we best present our community services? With the help of Howard Price and Mark Kraham, two nationally recognized news media leaders, we will explore the question of "What does the media want from hams and how do they want it?" Then we will look at ways we can best provide for those needs.

The Public Relations Committee held a dress rehearsal for this on Oct 19th. If the webinar has even just ½ of the information and enthusiasm that was shared in that rehearsal, then this will be a fantastic event – one that every SM, SEC, PIO and club leader needs to hear.

Hams Emergencies and the News Media

Thursday, November 3, 2011

9:00 PM - 10:30 PM EDT

Note that this is 9 to 10:30 PM EDT.... There are some web pages that have us going for 13 ½ hours... We like to talk, but not that much!

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

How to make friends even if your bird is gone

Allen Pitts, ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager, contacted me after hearing in the national media about a missing Sandhill crane in central Wisconsin. This fledgling bird is part of a flock of cranes migrating south for the winter. It decided to take off on it own and the Operation Migration organization, which monitors the flock's flight south, was desperate to find it. Each of the birds is equipped with a transmitter to keep track of them as they fly along with an ultra-light aircraft.

Since RF was involved we thought that Amateurs, with our experience in Direction Finding (DF) hunts, could help them locate the lost bird. I immediately got on the phone and email to contact them. I received an email thanking me for offering our services but they would not release the frequencies to the public due to previous unfortunate experiences when some hunters used them to track the birds and kill them. I received a phone call from another official and we talked at length about what we Amateurs do for the community, what the ARRL is all about, and techniques we use for DFing. He was very interested to learn more about Doppler technology as that was a mode that looked promising. I sent him sites for the Ramsey kit and other professional DF equipment. I, also, went into the ARRL technical archives and provided information on how-to solder and build kits, recommended equipment to buy, etc. He was impressed with what Amateurs can do and the resources that the ARRL provided.

He recently contacted me to let me know the good news that the bird was visually spotted in a flock of other Sandhill cranes but its transmitter was not working. They were going to attempt to capture the bird and give it a new transmitter. So, it was a happy outcome!

Even though we were not involved in locating the bird this provided an opportunity to show what Amateurs and ARRL can do for others outside of amateur radio, the friendships that can be made, the belief in us to be there if needed. (We are planning on loaning and demonstrating one of our Doppler units to the organization). I hope that you take the time to reach out and help others with our knowledge and services. We do have a lot to offer!


Don Michalski, W9IXG, Wisconsin Section Manager

Get Interest with TIP SHEETS

Tip sheets are always a great handout – even if you are not the originators of the tips themselves.

Computer viruses, trojan programs and other malicious Internet issues are a major concern, so a tip sheet about simple ways to avoid problems is going to be handy. Here’s a whole list of them you can print out and then hand out to the public.

Be sure to put your club/group contact info on them in addition to crediting the National Cyber Security Alliance. Linking ham radio with helping in modern computer issues is a good thing.

Pat – “ya dun gud!”

We received word of Pat McPherson’s retirement after creating and promoting the SATERN program for the Salvation Army. Pat has been a good friend and led the group for 23 years. He’s built it up to about 4,000 members.

I asked him to write a little about himself for this article, but in his usual way McPherson sent back information on SATERN instead....

SATERN, The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network, supports Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services with the provision of tactical communication on the scene of disaster. It additionally provides a high frequency network that interfaces with the rest of amateur radio to assist where needed during catastrophe to establish communications to and from the disaster area and, when needed, to assist with health and welfare support.

The SATERN Network is embraced by The Salvation Army as an official program and has provided a conduit between The Salvation Army and ARRL, ARES, RACES, MARS, REACT and other amateur organizations to effectively engage the help of amateur radio during disaster.

The Salvation Army values its relationship with amateur radio. SATERN doesn’t compete with any organization’s membership, but seeks to take advantage of available help provided by all of amateur radio to best serve those impacted by the advent of disaster.

Pat has always put the welfare of the SATERN program first. Well Pat – not this time!

Once upon a time I learned that when all things are done and over with, the best benediction of all, summarizing one’s life and accomplishments, was to hear the words I share with you now...

“Pat – ya dun gud.”

Write for CSM

Got in itch to write? Know a good story? The Christian Science Monitor is looking for submissions.

This past month there were two places I spotted announcing that they were on the hunt for writers. You can find out more about what they want at .


While the world has become a scary place in general, one of the issues which hams have raised among themselves is the question of Electro Magnetic Pulse vulnerability. Some exotic claims have been made. Here’s a simple explanation and solution you may want to know if asked by reporters. It comes from

One simple solution is to use battery-operated equipment which has cords or antennas of only 30 inches or less in length. This short stretch of metal puts the device within the troughs of the nuclear-generated EMP wave and will keep the equipment from getting a damaging concentration of electrons. Provided the equipment isn't operated close to some other metal object (i.e., within 8 feet of a metal girder, telephone line, etc.), it should survive without any other precautions being taken with it.

Another option:

A Faraday box is simply a metal box designed to divert and soak up the EMP. If the object placed in the box is insulated from the inside surface of the box, it will not be effected by the EMP travelling around the outside metal surface of the box. Many containers are suitable for make-shift Faraday boxes: cake boxes, ammunition containers, metal filing cabinets, etc., etc., can all be used. Despite what you may have read or heard, these boxes do NOT have to be airtight due to the long wave length of EMP; boxes can be made of wire screen or other porous metal. The only two requirements for protection with a Faraday box are: (1) the equipment inside the box does NOT touch the metal container (plastic, wadded paper, or cardboard can all be used to insulate it from the metal) and (2) the metal shield is continuous without any gaps between pieces or extra-large holes in it. Grounding a Faraday box is NOT necessary and in some cases actually may be less than ideal. Of course, any antennas or power cords need to be disconnected or contained completely within the faraday cage.

Grade Your Press Release

We get copies of all sorts of press releases. Some are good and some are .... well, to be charitable, they are “not good.” Now you can check your release out and score it in the privacy of your own home before sending it out.

HubSpot's Press Release Grader evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score. This score is based upon basic factors from public relations experts including the language and content of the release, plus advanced factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimization characteristics.

ARRL HQ on YouTube

Did you know that ARRL has its own channel on YouTube ? There’s lots of videos there from laboratory evaluations to promotional videos. There’s even some older historical movies available.

Getting Creative

Creativity, originality, imagination and ingenuity are the hallmarks of a good PR person. Remember, we’re beggars. We set up stories and create interest in others who carry our message for us. But we also have very limited resources to work with. So here are 12 of the best PR “stunts” proving it does not have to be expensive or hard. It just takes good imaginations:

IS 250

"Woody" Woodward K3VSA wrote in:

I don't know how many of you subscribe to the ARES e-newsletter, but the latest edition talked about some of the essential FEMA courses and mentioned one called, "Emergency Support Function (ESF15) External Affairs." The title is somewhat obscure, but I just completed the course, and I found it interestingly relevant for us PIO types.

In addition to defining the organizational structure for distributing information, it discusses arrangements in place to allow support organizations like ourselves to talk directly with media representatives while working exercises and disasters--as long as we confine our statements to our own involvement and not the broader scope.

This gives us a lot of flexibility to educate the public about Amateur Radio, and exactly when our contributions are most relevant. You might want to check it out:

How’s your website?

Google Analytics is rolling out its own real-time dashboards for anyone to use. It’s a freebie and you don’t have to install anything new. When you go there just make sure you are using the “new version” of the Google Analytics website (check for their red link at the top of the page), and look under their “Home” section for the “Real-Time (Beta)” menu on the left. If you don’t have it, you can request it here.

From there you can easily find out:

How many visitors are on my site right now?

How many of my active visitors have been there before?

How many pageviews am I recording each moment?

How many people are on each Web page right now?

What cities or countries are most people visiting from?

How many active readers do I have in a given town?

What websites are sending me traffic right now?

What search keywords are sending me traffic?

The locations page analytics shows a map of the places your current visitors are located.

This can be a major help for clubs and groups that have their own websites.

2011 SKYWARNTM Recognition Day

December 3, 2011, from 0000z to 2400z

National Weather Service Honors Ham Radio Operators Dec 3

Newington, CT -- The National Weather Service’s annual SKYWARN® Recognition event will take place Saturday, December 3. Cosponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the National Weather Service's way of expressing its appreciation to Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to keep communities safe.

Amateur Radio operators (often called “hams”) volunteering as storm spotters are an extremely valuable asset to National Weather Service operations because they are cross-trained in both communications and severe storm recognition. Typical SKYWARN operations during severe weather provide direct communication between mobile spotters and local NWS offices giving critical "ground truth" information for forecasters. Instant spotter reports of events such as hail size, low-level cloud rotation and wind damage, given in real time, greatly assist the weather centers. Their reports can be then be correlated with Doppler radar displays which may not see lower level activity in storms. The results are more accurately worded statements or issuing lifesaving warnings a few precious minutes earlier than would otherwise have been possible.

While, except for Irene, the 2011 hurricane season has been fairly quiet in the US, Amateur Radio’s people are also deeply involved with the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). The HWN, which organized in 1965, began as an informal group of amateurs that has developed into a formal relationship with the

National Hurricane Center in Miami via its Amateur Radio station WX4NHC. Ham radio operators and volunteers at Miami work together when hurricanes threaten, providing real-time weather data and damage reports to the Hurricane Center’s forecasters. Over 100 National Weather Service regional offices will be participating in this year’s event to recognize the community service of ham radio people.


For full information see:

Frequently Asked Questions about SKYWARN Recognition Day

What is SKYWARN Recognition Day?

SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world. Information regarding SRD is updated at

Why are the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League

cosponsoring the event?

The NWS and the ARRL both recognize the importance that amateur radio provides during severe weather. Many NWS offices acquire real time weather information from amateur radio operators in the field. These operators, for example, may report the position of a tornado, the height of flood waters, or damaging wind speeds during hurricanes. All of this information is critical to the mission of the NWS which is to preserve life and property. The special event celebrates this special contribution by amateur radio operators.

When is SKYWARN Recognition Day?

This year SKYWARN Recognition Day begins at 0000 UTC on December 3, 2011.

It will last 24 hours.

How many NWS stations are participating in the event?

It is estimated that around 100 NWS stations will participate this year.

Is this a contest or what?

No, this is not a contest, so no scoring will be computed. This is simply a group of stations transmitting from NWS offices during the same time. Similar event occurs every year on the amateur radio calendar. For example, hams operate from lighthouses across the world during one weekend and from naval ships/submarines during another.

We would like to publicize the event in the media. Can we do it?

You bet.

Leonard Award Nominations Due


Did you spot a good, ham radio Media Hit in the newspaper? Maybe it was on TV or on the radio. Perhaps it was even on one of the commercial Internet websites. Amateur Radio has been promoted in all of these ways in 2011 thanks to clubs, individuals and national press releases. Now it is time to say “Thank You!” to the professional media people and reporters who made it happen. The way to do that is to nominate them for the Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award.

This is a national level, annual award that honors three professional journalists whose outstanding work in audio, video and print formats best reflect the enjoyment, importance and public service value of the Amateur Radio Service.

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

a. Audio formats

b. Visual formats

c. 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 2012. 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 receiving nominations is 5pm on December 9, 2011.

The award was created as a tribute to the late CBS News President Bill Leonard, W2SKE, an avid Amateur Radio operator. Full information, rules and entry forms are at . Recipients must be professional journalists 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. We’re looking for media pieces that are truthful, clear and accurate, and reflect high journalistic standards. The award will be granted to the works deemed the best reflection of the enjoyment, importance and public service value of Amateur Radio.

If your group got a good news hit or article, what better way to respond than to nominate the person who publicized it? Media professionals can submit their own work, but it is best when hams themselves show their thanks, action and consideration. Amateur Radio emergency services, educational stories, space stories and ham technology – all of these topics could be winners. If a reporter covered your activity well, nominate them!

Audio format:

Submit CD with audio file(s) in mp3 format with name of candidate written on each disk.

Visual format:

Submit CD with mp4 file or DVD of the work with name of candidate written 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. (Photocopies are fine)

All entry forms and supporting disks and documentation must be received by 5pm on December 9, 2011.

Mail the packets to:

Manager of Media Relations

American Radio Relay League

225 Main Street

Newington, CT 06111

Each of the award winners will receive a plaque and a donation in their name of $250 will go to a recognized non-profit organization of the recipient’s choosing.

For more information about the award, full rules and to obtain a nomination form, go to

Or contact ARRL's Media & Public Relations Department,, 860-594-0328.


Yes, you can with new codes

Those new code boxes are showing up in more and more places. By scanning the graphics with your cell phone or similar devices, you can get print, pictures, be taken to web sites or a host of other things. I expect they will continue to find new uses over time.

But this past month I learned that most of the actual “code” is in the peripheral areas – the centers may be nothing at all. So playing about, and with a little help from web pages, I found a way to put the ARRL logo into the center of a code which will go to the ARRL’s website. Cut, paste, scan and have fun with it.

QR Code with Logo

The Last Word

I had other things written for this closing section, but I deleted them. Things changed here in Connecticut this past weekend as we got hurt badly by a major Nor’easter. It’s far too early in the season for ice and snow, but God didn’t look at the calendar I guess. Trees down, antennas down, power out in over half the state, no banks, no gas and we’re just one of several states that got hit. No one expected this for October, but it happened. Hams were in the EOC’s, shelters and Skywarn® was very active. The Connecticut SET drill, scheduled long ago for this weekend, took on a whole new meaning.

Between cleaning up the snow, ice and tree limbs, I reminded myself that it is the unusual and unexpected things that cause the most troubles. Perhaps that is why I see the Webinar on Nov 3rd with different eyes this morning. With hundreds of thousands of people without power or heat, there’s no TV, Internet or cable for them. Cell phone coverage is spotty and no way to recharge the phones. Public information is best passed by plain old AM radio – in this state it is WTIC .

As their announcer Ray Dunaway said on Sunday, Oct. 30th - the pretty boys of media are gone and it is the older, reliable, veteran systems that are still up and working. Tweet that if you can.

-Allen, W1AGP


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