If you’ve found your way here, you probably already know that it is Southeastern Division Election time again. This time, W4OZK and I are the only two candidates.
I’m working on a couple of posts that will recap the last three years and update the ARRL membership statistics. You can use the link at the right side of the page to get notifications when new posts are published.
In the mean time, please visit my campaign website, www.k4ac.com.
Thanks & 73,
Congratulations to W4OZK, who was re-elected as Southeastern Division Director, and to KG4IUM who was elected as Southeastern Division Vice Director.
During the ARRL Forum at the Stone Mountain, GA Hamfest Saturday (11/6/2010), Greg Sarratt (W4OZK), the incumbent Southeastern Division Director, made a statement to the effect that ARRL Membership numbers were experiencing healthy growth. I pointed out that we have nearly 5,000 fewer members than we did in 2001 while there are 11,000 more licensed amateurs. I also pointed out that the “growth” in membership from 1/1/2010 to 7/31/2010 was a total of one member!
ARRL Chief Development Officer Mary Hobart (K1MMH) who had spoken earlier stood up to respond—she questioned my numbers for ARRL membership. I told her that the numbers came straight out of the ARRL Annual Reports that are posted on the League’s website, except for the 7/31/2010 figure that came directly from an email inquiry to the ARRL CEO’s Executive Assistant. She then said she would like to see that email; I told her that I’d send it to her that afternoon. She went on to say that she doesn’t believe that that my information is correct and that the ARRL is growing.
I forwarded the email to Ms. Hobart a couple of hours after the forum. 48+ hours later, I have not heard anything from her.
It is impossible to fix that which you refuse to admit is broken. There are two possible scenarios:
A) ARRL executives are blissfully unaware of membership trends.
B) ARRL executives are aware of the membership trends, but choose to misrepresent them to the membership.
Either scenario is just plain bad…
One thing was very clear Saturday, neither League executive (W40zk and K1MMH) had FACTS to back their assertions about membership growth.
Read my post titled “The Numbers That Aren’t in QST…” for the truth about membership growth—apparently neither W4OZK or K1MMH did…
What are your thoughts?
The most important role of this election is yours!
As ARRL members, your role is to choose the best candidate for Director and Vice Director and return your ballot. The only thing this will cost you is a little time to review the candidates and a postage stamp.
If you agree with me that it is time to return the League to being a responsive membership driven organization with Directors that actually communicate with you, after voting for me, I ask you to take on an even more important role: educate your friends and fellow club members about my candidacy and ensure that they vote.
You might be thinking that it’s too late to do that, but a quick look at the last Southeastern Division election shows that to not be true. There were only 4,773 ballots cast in the 2007 election-only about one third of the number of members in the Division. That means that about 9,000 ballots were not returned—enough to completely alter the results!
Let’s work to get a 50%+ response this year by encouraging other members to vote and reminding them until they do.
I want to make the ARRL a better organization, but I can’t do it without your help!
What are your thoughts?
I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people around our Division about why the ARRL membership numbers have stagnated. I have come to believe that it is due in large part to general lack of excitement about the League.
While I don’t expect my Division Director to visit our club, as the President of an ARRL Affiliated Club with about 85 members, I do expect communicate with him. I’ve been President for three years and have never been asked my opinion on anything. I vaguely recall receiving a couple of emails from our Director over these three years, but they were general announcements of one kind or another.
At the Melbourne Hamfest a couple of weeks ago, ARRL COO Harold Kramer, WJ1B, gave an interesting and informative presentation. During the discussion, Harold said that the ARRL sends several mailings to newly licensed amateurs. I believe he said that they had about an 11% rate of people signing up for membership.
Given that ARRL membership grew by only one person from 1/1/2010-7/31/2010 while about 11% of new licensees joined, it appears that the ARRL is losing about 11% of existing members.
So why aren’t existing members staying and a greater percentage of new licensees joining?
Some people say it is the economy. I have no doubt that there have been some people that have dropped out because they cannot afford it, but I don’t think this accounts for a very large number. At about 11 cents per day or 75 cents per week, League membership is not lavishly expensive.
More likely, there is a lack of perceived benefit. Many people feel that if you’re not interested in receiving QST, why join.
I suspect that to a large degree the stagnating membership numbers are due to what is happening at our local clubs, training classes, and VE sessions. The ARRL does not get brought up that often and when it does, it is often in a negative context. A sizable percentage of the League membership is apathetic at best. If someone who is considering whether to join or renew hears nothing positive or nothing at all about the ARRL, they are less likely to want to belong.
Rather than spending the money to send out multiple mailings to new licensees, the League needs to repair and renew its relationship with the Affiliated Clubs, trainers, and VE’s—this are the people that can best increase League membership. Every new licensee must, at a minimum, encounter three VEs. If you can get these groups excited about the ARRL and what it is accomplishing, they will be far more likely to praise it and recommend others join it.So how do we do that—the $60,000 question…
It has to start with the clubs, trainers, and VE’s being communicated with by their Director. Not just an email a year, but regular communication that includes keeping them informed of what’s happening, asking for their input on issues, and seeking their ideas. Only when the members feel like they are members, not just QST subscribers, will any improvement be possible.
The ARRL is supposed to be a member driven organization—things are supposed to be driven from the bottom to the top. Membership growth too needs to be driven from the local level.
What are your thoughts?
All three candidates for Southeastern Division Director will either attend or have a representative at the Candidate Forum. (K4AC & W4STB confirmed attending; W4OZR or a representative attending) Vice Director WA4AW will either attend or have a representative attending as well.
Here’s your chance to meet the candidates. Each candidate/representative will be given a few minutes to introduce themselves and then the audience will have the rest of the time to ask questions.
For more information about the hamfest, go to www.pcars.org and click on the “Hamfest 2010″ link on the left side.
The ballots for the Southeastern Division were mailed out as bulk mail on Monday, 7/28.
We are facing ever increasing threats to our spectrum—at the same time, the percentage of Amateurs belonging to the ARRL is in a steady decline. (The Numbers That Aren’t in QST…)
Before casting your vote, please take a few minutes to learn about all of the candidates for each position. While there will be 300 word statements from each candidate included with the ballots, to really get to know the candidates, visit their websites.
The websites, ordered by office sought and callsign, are:
K4AC www.k4ac.com (campaign website) www.k4ac.net (this blog)
For Vice Director:
As you look at each website, look to see how much information each candidate gives you about:
- Problems with the ARRL
- Solutions for the ARRL’s Problems
- Ideas to Improve Member Benefits and Retain Members
- Ideas to Grow ARRL Membership
For the incumbent Director, W4OZK, look for actual accomplishments during the 3 years that he has been in office. Serving on a committee, or even chairing it, is not an accomplishment—championing issues, whether ultimately successful or not, is. Aside from holding the office while the ARRL has been in decline, what accomplishments are reflected in his campaign material? If you believe as I do that the ARRL is in need of significant reform, has the incumbent Director done anything to demonstrate that he is part of the solution rather than part of the problem?
While my opponents appear to believe that holding ARRL Field Appointments or office as a Section Manager is requisite precursor for being a Director, I submit to you that having experience successfully running businesses and organizations is far more important. The culture of the ARRL power elite can be seen from the outside; it is this culture that needs to be changed. We need Directors that understand business processes, Directors that can scrutinize a budget to determine the best uses of limited funds. Significantly, we need Directors that think outside the box, that are innovators—not career League politicians!
Please don’t take any of this to denigrate the thankless, selfless, and outstanding work performed by the Section Managers and Field Appointees—they are not career League politicians which I am referencing.
It is important to understand that the position of Section Manager is entirely different from that of a Director. The Section Managers do not report to the Division Director- Director is not the next step in some imagined ARRL “career path”.
“Recruits, appoints, and supervises section-level staff to administer the Field Organization’s principal areas of responsibility in the section. These areas are emergency communications, message traffic relay, technical activity / problem solving, volunteer monitoring, government relations, public relations in the general community, information services for amateurs, and cooperation with affiliated clubs.” (Source: ARRL Website)
“ARRL’s structure divides the United States into 15 ARRL Divisions. Every three years the ARRL full members in each of these Divisions elect a Director and a Vice Director to represent them on the League’s Board of Directors. The Board determines the policies of the League, which are carried out by the Headquarters staff. A Director’s function is principally policymaking at the highest level. Each division’s Director and Vice Director represent their Division on ARRL policy matters.” (Source: ARRL Website)
If you haven’t already read the blog post “Thoughts On Choosing A Vice Director“, take a look at it before choosing a candidate.
Your opinion may not have been solicited in the last three years, however, you now have an opportunity to make your voice heard loudly in Newington—it is your duty as members of the ARRL to thoughtfully consider each candidate and vote for the person you determine will best represent you and our Division. Please complete your ballot, follow the directions carefully, and return it as soon as you receive it. Encourage every other League member to do the same.
The two greatest tragedies in an election are the casting of an uninformed vote and not casting a vote at all…
What are your thoughts?
The good news is that the growth in amateur radio licensees more than doubled from 2008 to 2009. The bad news is that the percentage of amateurs belonging to the ARRL is actually declining.
The ARRL membership data was extracted from the ARRL Annual Reports posted on the League’s website, except for the 7/31/2010 membership number that came from a direct inquiry to HQ. The data for US amateur licensees was extracted from www.ah0a.org.
Despite an ever increasing need to protect our spectrum from commercial interests and despite an increasing number of amateur licensees, the ARRL’s membership numbers are stagnant!
By the way, the gain of “1″ in the membership as of 7/31/2010 is not a typo…
The charts and data are clear and convincing evidence that we must reform the ARRL immediately through new ideas and approaches. We need leaders with actual experience operating businesses, not career League politicians.
If you’ve read my other blog postings and my campaign website (www.k4ac.com), you already know of my business experience, professional accomplishments, and plans for fixing the ARRL’s problems. If you haven’t, please take a few minutes to look them over.
Together we can change the ARRL and safeguard our hobby. I need your vote, input, and support to make it happen- please spread the word.
What are your thoughts?
My father is a retired career Army officer, so I spent my childhood moving around the US every two to three years. He was born in New York City and grew up there. My mother was born and raised in Griffin, GA; her family goes back more than 150 years in that area. Almost all of my mother’s side of the family live southwest of Atlanta, including my parents and my sister and her family.
So how did I become an amateur?
In 1975 my father was stationed at Fort Monmouth, NJ and we lived on post. During the summer of 1975, the US Army Signal School (which has since moved) offered the Common Basic Electronics Training (COBET) class to dependents (military speak for Army Brats…). The class taught electronics theory, soldering, troubleshooting, and repair.
Antenna Farm circa 1977
At the end of the course, we made a field trip to the MARS station, where we watched as a soldier ran phone patches with Germany- I was hooked. I started hanging out at the MARS station; the soldiers there taught me to operate the Collins KWM-2A and S-Line equipment, to operate the R390 receivers and T368 transmitter for RTTY, to handle traffic on voice and RTTY, to run phone patches, and to run MARS nets as the NCS.
Phone Patch Studio circa 1977
I studied for the Technician license which consisted of the General class written examination and a 5wpm code test. In early January 1977, one of the soldiers from the MARS station drove me to the Philadelphia FCC office to take my test. I’ve forgotten whether the written test or the code test was given first, but I certainly remember the code test. The FCC examiner tried to get me to take the 13wpm test, but I knew I couldn’t pass it. I copied the 5wpm text and anxiously awaited the results. The examiner called me up to the large desk in the front and told me I had passed the receive portion; it was now time to take the sending test…
I nervously took the straight key and began to send the text from the printed sheet. I had only sent a few words when the examiner stopped me. Thoughts raced through my head that I had passed the written exam and the Morse receiving test, only to fail the sending test – the easiest part. To my relief, the examiner told me that I passed and proceeded to teach me the proper way to hold the key and send.
A little while later, all of the soldiers at the MARS station were reassigned and the station was turned over to the post recreation administrator. I was 15 years old and given the key to the station. I ran it after school and during breaks; I would often run dozens of phone patches in the afternoon with MARS stations in Germany.
My father retired and we moved to Fort Wayne, IN where he had a position in international marketing for a military radio manufacturer. For Christmas of 1977, I received a brand new Kenwood TS-520S; subsequent birthdays and Christmases would bring all of the accessories. I saved money from odd jobs and earned enough to buy a base and four sections of TV tower. I also bought a Radio Shack 3 element CB beam and converted it to 10 meters; later I bought a second and made a wide-spaced 5 element 10 meter beam on a 30′ boom. Needless to say, I was very active on 10 meters and in collecting 10-10 certificates.
After getting my code speed up to 13wpm, I took the test when the FCC visited Fort Wayne and upgraded to General. I added wire antennas for the rest of the bands, including 160. By happenstance, I met a couple of amateurs in Michigan that were also in High School on 160 and we had a regular sked for several years.
In 1980 the company my father was working for moved to Tampa, FL, so our family moved to Palm Harbor. I began college that fall at the University of Florida. At the first meeting of the Gator Amateur Radio Club (GARC – W4DFU), a new electrical engineering grad student, WA9YNE (now K9VA) was elected President, AA4FL, a dental student, was elected either Secretary or Treasurer, and I was elected Vice President. AA4FL, who has his dental practice located outside of Gainesville, and I became life long friends from our years at UF; Jay now serves as the Faculty Advisor for GARC.
At that time, W4DFU was located in the Electrical Engineering Building which was located adjacent to the Communications School with the studios for WRUF. WA9YNE and I decided to enter the 1980 Phone Sweepstakes contest as a multi op, single radio. As it turned out, WRUF’s mixing console picked up our signal on 15 meters rather well, resulting in our being given an edict of radio silence. Shortly after that, we were told that we had to move out of the EE building as they needed the space; coincidence I’m sure.
AA4FL found a nice room on the top floor of the Dental School tower that only had some telephone and electrical wiring in it. If you’re familiar with the Shands complex at UF, the Dental School is in the 11 story tower on the west end. Somehow, Jay managed to convince the administration and the building maintenance personnel to let us move the station there and put our antennas on the roof. They let us drill holes in the walls of the elevator houses on the roof, one at each end about 200′ apart, to mount a forty foot HF tower on one end and a 30′ VHF tower on the other. Looking back, I can’t believe they let us do it!
We had a TH6DXX on the 40′ tower, putting it about 160′ AGL. The VHF tower had VHF and UHF circularly polarized antennas for satellite work (remember the Russian robots?) and a six meter beam. A Hustler 5BTV and a fan dipole for 80/75 rounded out the antennas. (We may have had a 160 dipole, but I can’t recall for certain.)
We operated a lot of contests from the new station (no more RFI to WRUF) and did a lot of DXing. W4DFU is still in that same location, getting ready to celebrate 30 years there.
While at UF, I upgraded to Advanced class and also worked part time repairing radios at Radio Telephone Company of Gainesville. During my Sophomore year, I served as the GARC Secretary/Treasurer; during my junior year, I served as President.
After deciding to enter law enforcement, I changed my major to Criminal Justice. I did my senior year at the University of South Florida in Tampa; UF didn’t have a Criminal Justice program at that time.
Knowledge and skills learned through amateur radio would be the foundation upon which my law enforcement career was built- a specialization in electronic surveillance and high tech investigations.
While the Vice Director attends the Board of Director meetings held twice a year, they do not have a vote at the meeting unless the Director is unable to attend.
The only other duty spelled out for the Vice Director is to replace the Director if the Director dies, resigns, or is removed from office. It is for this reason that it is important to consider carefully which candidate you believe could best represent the Division if they became the Director.
Since the Director and Vice Director are separate races, the members choose the Vice Director, not the Director. The relationship between the Director and the Vice Director can be anything from a closely working team to two complete strangers.
I’m going to insert a disclaimer at this point that much of the information below comes from conversations with numerous people. There is little documentation available to members. If any of the information is incorrect, I will immediately correct it when presented with documentation.
The Vice Director does not receive a budget, so they must rely on the Director for travel reimbursement. The Director has autonomy over their budget to decide whether the Vice Director will be be reimbursed or not. Where a good working relationship does not exist, a Vice Director might be forced to absorb any travel costs incurred in representing the ARRL at meetings and hamfests/conventions. (The Director’s and the Vice Director’s travel to Board meetings is paid out of headquarters funds.)
At the Board meetings, the Directors sit in the inner circle while the Vice Directors sit behind them, seperated by tables.
The Vice Director position has the potential to be a truly exasperating experience if there is not a good working relationship with the Director. As an elected League official, the members see the Vice Director as a representative of the ARRL, yet the Vice Director’s input to the organization is controlled by how the Director works with them.
As Division Director, I will work with your choice of Vice Director to provide the best possible representation to you. Together with the Assistant Directors, we will form a team to keep you informed and to receive your input.
Please give every bit as much attention to selecting your Vice Director as to selecting your Director. Evaluate the candidates with the same measure you use for the candidates for Director. After all, if anything happens to the Director, the Vice Director is automatically promoted.
What are your thoughts?