Friday, 24 August 2012

Elitism In The Hobby

Elitism? In Our Hobby? Surely not?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "Elite" thus:

"noun: a group of people considered to be superior in a particular society or organization: the country’s educated elite"

I prefer The Free Dictionary's definition:

"The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favoured treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources."

I hate elitist attitudes and snobbery of all kinds and it seems it exists in our hobby too. While such attitudes are often considered par for the course in some amateur radio circles, I was surprised to find it tucked away in a little corner of our hobby. Those with common sense will know that there is good and bad in all walks of life, but we are probably all guilty of it to some degree. We're all human and have opinions, but when these have a detrimental effect on the hobby and particularly to newcomers, something needs to be said. We should stand up against bullies and those who feel they are somehow superior to others.

An antipodean DX forum recently made sweeping statements about the SkywavesDX FM forum and its members, pointing some rather unsavoury fingers, accusing the membership of being parochial and making "excessive noise" in forum posts. OK, we have our niche interests and foibles, but, as polite as the tone of the message seemed when first read, it clearly dug deeply into the running of the group and the personalities of some members, leaving a very bitter taste in the mouth.

The person in question (I am unsure if he is a co-owner or moderator) who made this cruel attack, skilfully worded the post so it came across as a well-meaning message, yet it was highly critical of those lesser mortals who struggled to receive anything 'even half-decent' (ooops. snobbery there perhaps?). It also suggested that these barbarians were holding back the real enthusiasts. This is not the first time this person has been highly critical of Skywaves.

We have to ask the question, was SkywavesDX really deserving of this assessment? Well, whether it was or not, it was just plain wrong to have made such a post in the first instance. What right does he have to be so judgmental? He is one of the main faces of this forum, yet he is obviously unable to see the damage he is doing to it. This person has caused such a stir in the world of broadcast DXing lately that he has actually succeeded in deterring newcomers to the hobby and even making those established give it up and sell their equipment it would seem (there is documented evidence of this) and actually forced a member to close down his radio blog. This man has done nothing other than to alienate himself from everybody in our hobby, especially those who are not in the same privileged position as himself. He actually stated that DXers who didn't have high end receivers and towering aerial arrays should not be taken seriously and should leave the hobby.

The same man even suggested starting a European FM DX forum for beginners so they could be kept away from their established superior DX forum.

My feelings about this are so strong that I felt that this matter could not be swept under the carpet. Normally one could laugh off such snobbery, but it became clear that this bickering was having quite a detrimental effect on the hobby and some of its aficionados.

Who am I to speak out? Well, I have always been one of those people who speaks his mind and I admit that I don't always do it tactfully. I don't have the 'gift of the gab', but I will shout loudly if I feel something is unfair. Most of us have hobbies of one form or another. Some of us like to follow our local football team, others follow their favourite TV soaps or pop groups. These are all interests, no matter how big or small, but the fact is that they are almost always more fun when you share them with others. There is nothing to be gained from withholding information and there are huge benefits when you pass on useful and helpful information to others. Sadly, there will always be those highly competitive members who want to keep everything to themselves. Of course, they are perfectly entitled to do so if they wish, but what a shame that is. Personally, I find these people rather greedy and obnoxious.

The great thing about our radio hobby is that we all start off on an equal playing field. A good friend and fellow DXer occasionally reminds me that propagation is simply an act of nature over which we have no control. We are at its mercy and there is no telling what it will do and who it will affect next. It can be very localised or affect large areas. It has predictable and unpredictable qualities and it these are accessible to all of us. The idea of attaching elitism to something so unpredictable is just ridiculous. Compare to fishing for instance: Do you stand a better chance if you have a bigger rod and some prime bait? Of course not. That doesn't tell you where the fish are. Even smaller rods can pull in a bigger catch than that guy with the huge rod. It's just about being in the right place at the right time. Anybody can catch the big one. It's a bit like a game of hide and seek.

One of the greatest gifts in this hobby is the ability to help newcomers and I would urge all those who share our fascinating hobby to do just that: Offer useful tips and guidelines; Share your experiences; Alert others to DX events whenever possible. You can do this individually or in your club or society. Why on earth would anybody in their right mind want to cast certain members of the DX community aside and tell them are not be welcomed if they don't achieve certain minimum distances in their logbooks or they have less than 15 elements on a tower, which must be at a minimum height of 40 metres? (It's true. It's been stated!) There is nothing wrong with trying to raise standards, but don't leave those less fortunate out in the cold.

So far, I have avoided mentioning names and I really do not wish to 'out' the culprits, but I will mention names if this gross unfairness continues.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tropo > Spain, Brittany, Holland & Belgium Continues

The Hepburn forecast predicted that conditions would move towards Scandinavia in the morning but that didn't happen. Instead, conditions continued into Brittany, although they weren't as good as on the 18th, yet Lierganes was heard briefly and with a very weak signal on 105.0 just after midnight.

I hope it's not too long before I see a return to Breton tropo as this part of France has been lacking here on the east coast. Even Spanish tropo has been more frequent here!

107.6 0946 BEL Hit FM, Bornem/Fort (vlg-ant)  Jingle ID ands pops  353 km

 87.6 0951  F  RMC, Le Havre/Harfleur (76)  Phone correspondent, as web  406 km **

107.1 0959  F  France Bleu 107.1, Paris/Tour Eiffel (75)  Phone in, as web  497 km

107.4 1039  G  Leisure FM, Coggeshall/Pattiswick (EN-ESX)  OM and oldies, as web stream  142 km

** Personal Skegness 'First'

Tropo > Spain, Brittany, Holland & Belgium

Before moving to the east coast I had expected Spain would be a rarity here, if it was ever going to be received at all. After all, this is the east coast and the sea path goes off in the wrong direction completely.  How wrong I was in my assumption!

Today's tropo opening just produced Lierganes on 102.9 & 105.0 - probably the two easiest frequencies. Signals almost peaked noise-free for a time.

Brittany also put in a appearance and even gave results from low powered stations. Here is the full log:

105.0 0840  E  RNE R.5 TN, Liérganes/Peña Cabarga (CNT-S)  Phone-in, as web stream  1128 km

 87.9 0848  F  France Culture, Parthenay/les Chateliers (79)  OM, as web stream  712 km

 89.2 0851  F  France Culture, Cherbourg-Octeville/Digosville (50)  OM as 89.0  413 km

 90.6 0852  F  France Inter, Nantes/Haute-Goulaine (44)  Serious OM, as web stream  675 km

 91.0 0853  F  France Musique, Alençon/Mont d'Amain (61)  Classical music, as 88.7  498 km

 91.4 0854  F  France Culture, Angers/Rochefort-sur-Loire (49)  OM interview, as web  650 km

 92.1 0855  F  France Musique, Laval-Evron/Mont Rochard (53)  Clasical music, as 92.0  550 km

 92.2 0855  F  France Musique, Tours/Chissay [41] (37)  Clasical music, as 92.0  646 km

 93.2 0856  F  France Inter, Angers/Rochefort-sur-Loire (49)  Same serious OM, as others  650 km

 93.8 0856  F  France Musique, Sens/Gisy-les-Nobles (89)  Clasical music, as 92.0  577 km

 94.2 0857  F  France Culture, Nantes/Haute-Goulaine (44)  OMs discussion, as 98.0  675 km

 94.6 0857  F  France Inter, Chartres/Montlandon (28)  Same serious OM, as others  531 km

 94.9 0858  G  BBC London 94.9, London/Crystal Palace (EN-GTL)  Talk, as web  194 km

 95.1 0900  F  France Inter, Laval-Evron/Mont Rochard (53)  ID and news  550 km

 98.1 0907  F  France Culture, Chartres/Montlandon (28)  OM, as 98.0  531 km

102.9 0909  E  RNE R.3, Liérganes/Peña Cabarga (CNT-S)  Almost noise free  1128 km

100.7 0915  F  France Bleu Cotentin, Cherbourg-Octeville/Digosville (50) BLEU.COT RDS on XDR! 413 km

 87.8 0927  F  Radio Courtoisie, Cherbourg-Octeville (50)  OM talking, as web stream  414 km

 93.7 0930  F  Contact, Montreuil/le Bois-de-Sel 2 (62)  Dance music, as web stream  302 km

102.6 0934  F  France Bleu Basse Normandie, Caen/Mont Pinçon (14)  BLEU.B.N Solid 3 bars!  469 km

101.6 0947  F  NRJ, Flers/la Chapelle-Biche (61)  Pops and jingle ID  498 km **

 99.9 0950  F  France Inter, Tours/Chissay [41] (37)  YL and OM, as web stream  646 km

105.0 0952  F  France Bleu Touraine, Tours/Chissay [41] (37)  OM, as web stream  646 km

 89.9 1017  F  France Musique, Rennes/Saint-Pern (35)  Jazz, as web stream  564 km

 97.4 1022  F  France Musique, Angers/Rochefort-sur-Loire (49)  French OM, as web stream  650 km

 97.8 1024  F  France Culture, Tours/Chissay [41] (37)  Definitely Tours. As 8.0  646 km **

106.0 1039  G  106 Jack FM, Chillerton Down (EN-IOW)  Jacks World Of Sport  300 km

101.6 1118  F  France Bleu Haute Normandie, Neufchâtel-en-Bray/Croixdalle (76)  YL, as web  381 km

 88.0 1520  G  Real Radio, Wrexham-Rhos (WA-WRE)  Pops, as web stream. Scatter  225 km

100.9 1523 IRL Today FM, Kippure (wic)  Irish sports commentary  443 km

 91.3 1538 IRL RTÉ 2 FM, Kippure (wic)  Stay with 2FM  443 km

 91.8 1539 IRL RTÉ 2 FM, Mount Leinster (car)  90 to 92, 2FM ID  480 km

 91.2 1542  F  Contact, Abbeville/Behen Blockhaus (80)  Dance music, as web stream  358 km

107.4 1915  F  Europe 1, Granville/château d'eau (50)  Football commentary, as web stream  505 km **

107.0 1916  F  Skyrock, Granville/château d'eau (50)  Ads and ID  505 km **

 87.7 2029  F  RCF, Dieppe/la Côte Enragée (76)  Choral chants, as web stream  364 km **

 87.8 2031  F  Décibel, Dinan/Barrière (22)  Sombre French song, as web stream  550 km **

 91.8 2038  F  Fun Radio, Saint-Malo/Dinard (35)  Club beats, as web stream  531 km **

 92.6 2044  G  Radio Verulam, Saint Albans (EN-HTS)  ID and song by Starbuck  162 km

 90.6 2130  F  France Inter, Nantes/Haute-Goulaine (44)  Clanking pots and pans, as web  675 km

 89.8 2214  F  France Musique, Abbeville/Limeux (80)  Strange music, as web stream  364 km

 96.7 2219  G  Heart Hampshire and West Sussex, Crabwood Farm (EN-HPS)  Pops, as others  259 km

 97.5 2220  G  Heart Hampshire and West Sussex, Fort Widley (EN-HPS)  Pops, as others  272 km

101.8 2221  F  France Bleu Loire Océan, Nantes/Haute-Goulaine (44)  Oldies, as web  675 km

 87.9 2224  G  Ramadan FM, Milton Keynes  Prayers, as web stream

 95.0 2311  F  MFM Radio, Dinan/le Clos Gastel (22)  Jennifer Lopez track, as web stream  550 km **

 97.5 2314  G  Conscious FM, London pirate  Jamaican promos & ID **

 99.0 2322  F  Radio Bonheur, Lannion/Park Crec'h (22)  Vocal ID in promo  557 km **

100.6 2327  F  France Bleu Picardie, Abbeville/Limeux (80)  Euro disco, as web stream  364 km

101.0 2329  F  Tendance Ouest, Saint-Lô/les Romains (50)  Disco tune, as web stream  456 km **

103.4 2334  F  Fun Radio, Nantes/Haute-Goulaine (44)  Banging techno, as web stream  675 km **

107.0 2339  G  Heart - South West, Redruth (EN-CNW)  Heart Club Classics  503 km

107.3 2343  F  BFM Business, Brest/Lescaouidic (29)  Business talk, as web  629 km **

107.9 2349  F  RMC, Audierne/Plouhinec (29)  OMs talking and laughing, as web stream  665 km **

** Personal Skegness 'First'

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Welcome To My Blog!

My blog begins on the hottest day of the year so far - Saturday 18th August 2012. It's 32 degrees in the shade and I am trying to keep cool (as opposed to "be cool", which I am almost certainly not).

I am new to the Blogosphere (what an awful word), despite having had the occasional play with Blogger over the last few years. I decided it was time to make a start and capture my life-long hobby in the Blogger time-capsule for all posterity. (Anyway, I'm fed up paying through the nose for having this information hosted elsewhere!)

Some pages will appear before this entry as I will add a few older bits and pieces of radio related information.

While radio is the main concern here I know that other off-topic aspects of people's daily lives tend to appear in their own blogs, so I am sure I will be no different, however, I plan to concentrate mostly on radio matters.

Comments will always be welcome.

Happy reading!