This "The National QSO* Page"
editorial from the December 1938 issue of Radio News magazine really
took me by surprise. Evidently there was a rift with amateur radio operators
over whether Radio News was attempting to overthrow the American Radio
Relay League's (ARRL) dominance in the Ham realm. At the time, the
ARRL had only been in existence for 24 years. There had been some previous
criticism of the ARRL for not sufficiently (in Radio News' opinion)
defending access to dedicated Ham spectrum and legal transmit power levels, and
also for the ARRL counting among its membership anyone who subscribed to the
organization's QST magazine. The former point is arguable, but the
latter seems rather petty since likely the percentage of subscribers who were
not ARRL members, too, is probably very small. Interestingly, Radio News
accused the ARRL of being weak lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for fear of losing
their tax-exempt status if they riled the politicians too aggressively. Maybe
they had a point there, too.
*QSO is a contact made via wireless, and the oft-seen QSO cards are
personalized proofs of contact sent between Hams.
Although only somewhat related, it occurred to me the other day regarding the
"CQ" transmitted at the beginning of transmitting session. It is the equivalent
of saying, "Hello, is anybody listenting?," or a "Break" / "Breaker" at the
beginning of a citizens band (CB) transmission. I might have read it somewhere,
but do not recall doing so. Speaking "CQ" is nearly the same as "seek you,"
which is what you're doing when broadcasting "CQ." A Web search did turn up
examples of CQ = seek you, so my epiphany turned out to be old news, but then
you probably already knew that. Here's a good synopsis on the
= seek you topic.
The National QSO Page
In spite of our repeated statements to the contrary, rumors continue to be circularized
that we and our publication are seeking the overthrow of the American Radio Relay
League. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only are the Editor and the
Managing Editor of Radio News members of the A.R.R.L.; but we believe that they
are more interested in the continuance of the League than are those members who
are either sitting by doing nothing at all, or are using up valuable energy throwing
brickbats at anyone who is trying to accomplish anything in what will surely become
a very serious situation by 1942.
We agree that it is easy - very easy - to find fault. It is harder to give a
constructive suggestion. And it is hardest of all to stick to one's guns in the
face of abject apathy or a barrage of vituperative expletives.
In order that there may be no mistake, we once again reiterate our stand, and
what we hope to accomplish.
First, and foremost we are for the League! We urge all to join it! We do not
believe that a second League is indicated at this time, nor should there be a second
league until such a time that the A.R.R.L. conclusively shows that it is unable
to carry on the work of the American ham, or that it becomes too involved with the
publication of its radio magazine, QST.
We do believe, and we think that there is justification for our contention that
the League is too loosely run, that the ham's problems are not handled as well as
they might be, and that little if anything is being done to improve the American
We indicated last month and the month before that that the subscription to QST,
automatically made the subscriber a member of the League. That is wrong, and it
should be remedied. We know of a very fine Medical Society whose weekly magazine
has a circulation of over 25,000 while the membership of that Society is less than
5,000. Anyone can subscribe to their magazine. They would accept the money from
any person, or in any name ... but membership in their Society, ah, that's different.
Here they have solidly founded qualifications, and the member must meet not only
the qualifications of being a reputable doctor, but his private life must be morally
above reproach. We do not advocate that the League adopt the same measures to the
extent of requiring the careful survey of membership being made as does the Medical
Society, but we do say that at the minimum A.R.R.L. membership should be limited
to those who apply for it as such, and who are able to qualify under the statement
that appears on the flyleaf of every QST, and is stated in the League Constitution.
We recall that when we applied for membership in the League, that we were sent
an application blank to fill out requesting sufficient information which would have
prevented any dog such as Terry Law (See Radio News, November, 1938) or any infant
like Joel Davis (See Radio News, October, 1938) from becoming a member. If the League
is able to use that system in handling membership applications, why can't it use
the same technique in handling plain subscriptions. It could mail the would-be subscriber
an application blank for membership, unless the subscriber-to-be requests membership
at the same time that he sends in the subscription? Is this asking too much. We
think not. And give a thought to the natural results.
When making a statement concerning the membership in the League, the force of
knowing that for every member there was at least an application on file, would strengthen
the A.R.R.L. We believe that to be almost elementary.
Next we are in favor of a greater publicity campaign for the ham to be conducted
by the League. Not only in the papers, but in the state and Federal Government Legislature.
The benefits of such a move would be to have laws passed in favor of the ham, and
not resort to the interpretation of the laws by the executive body, the Federal
Too few, since directly after the World War, have been the attempts by our League
to have favorable legislation passed. And too extreme has been our unction towards
the executive branch of the government which cannot of itself make any laws. The
A.R.R.L. has pursued the line of least resistance in hewing to the F.C.C. in an
attempt to have the ham situation strengthened, when it should have devoted itself
to Congress and the Senate. It is these who make our laws as the representatives
of the people, not the Commission whose sole purpose is to enforce and interpret
them. It is to them that our messages should be addressed.
Until we as members can and do put the League on a tax-paying basis and thereby
clear the decks for the employment of honest lobbyists, to promote our interests
with the law-makers, and not the law-enforcers, we must of necessity come out a
bad second to each and every commercial or non-amateur interest, which has long,
long ago learned that valuable lesson.
And so we advocate that the A.R.R.L. amend its ways, pay its just taxes and place
itself in a position of equality with the other interests who are at this very time
pounding the Congressmen and Senators for more, and more, and more of what is now
We have excellent information from a good source, that a move will be made in
Congress, to outlaw all power for the hams which exceeds a quarter kilowatt to the
final stage of transmitter. What are we going to do about it? Will the FCC be able
to help us? The answer must be NO, since if the LAW says that a quarter kilowatt
is all that shall be legal, then the FCC MUST enforce that provision, regardless
of our puny cries to them for assistance and relief from that enactment. What if
anything has the League done about this?
Finally we have been accused of trying to run a circulation campaign at the expense
of the League and also the ham. This cannot be true since we do not need the circulation
as we have the largest for our type magazine, right at the very time that you are
We are tied up into a great industry. That industry flourishes on the foundation
and basis that the ham will survive indefinitely. If he is "liquidated" in 1942,
the industry must fail with him. With that failure comes the end not only to the
League as, it is presently constituted, but also QST and, Radio News as it is made
up today. True, we can switch over to servicemen (who already spend more than 20
times a year what the ham does) but with that switch we will lose our identity as
a leading ham publication. So we feel that we can see as well as read the writing
on the wall, and can foresee that if there is not any aroused ham opinion BEFORE
1942, there will not be much of any hams after 1942.
To that end, we are striving hard and earnestly to awaken the amateur to the
fact that his only salvation lies in making his League get down to brass tacks.
Stop all this quibbling, this eternal and wanton waste of time and energy. This
situation will not and is not getting any better for the ham, it is getting worse.
While to some the year 1942 is far, far away, we know that three years is almost
too little time to accomplish what we MUST to survive as hams. That is our point
and our stand. We urge all serious minded hams to think on it, and see if there
is not a modicum of logical reasoning behind it all.
More Concerning the Plan
The plan which was noticed in the last issue, is still being worked on. It has
turned out to be a gigantic task, and one which will deserve the attention of every
licensed amateur in the country. As soon as the work is completed, and that should
be in a month or six weeks, we will be happy to print it for your comments. It will
be a plan envisaging the correction of some of the faults which are holding back
the amateur from acquiring the firm place he should have in the run of things.
It Can Happen Here!
From some sources has come a criticism of the method which we are using to attract
the attention of the hams to their plight. It is argued that a more subdued type
of editorial would suffice to put the story over. If the ham were anything but what
he is this would be true. Unfortunately the amateur is beset with many problems
at home, and in his business: He takes his hobby seriously, but with - for the most
part - a sort of lackadaisy as to just what is going on. He surrounds himself with
a hard shell of disinterest in the future of his hobby, and his League, and sings,
"We'll let George do it." These sort of tactics can only be met with blasts, with
dynamite, and with the strong type of editorials which we have been featuring. The
points could as well be made in quiet, unassuming words, but would the ham read
them ... would he take them to heart, would he even give it a moments thought? He
would not! So we hope that by hitting hard we can rouse the American Amateur that
he must fight, that he must not fail asleep at the switch, and that his end in 1942
is too close at hand for comfort.
There are others who flatly refuse to believe that "It can happen here" and that
the ham can be legislated out of existence. Well he can. Hams are now prohibited
in Greece, in Palestine, and are heavily curtailed in Germany, Spain, Morocco, Russia,
Italy, and wherever the government is opposed to the free thinking of its people.
It can certainly happen here, and it will but take the stroke of a pen in the hand
of the President to wipe out - with one fell swoop - each and every ham now on the
air. Think it over, and don't be a radiostritch. Let's get to our guns - The Editors.
Posted December 16, 2020