Northwestern Division Newsletter- January 18, 2021

Well, the year 2020 is finally dead, long live 2021! As this is written
I cannot help but reflect on what a very strange year it’s been. Many
know of, or have been ourselves, victims of either the devastating
wildfires of last year, or by the ravages of COVID-19. Only a few NW
Division hamfests or amateur radio events actually were held in 2020,
and the ones that survived were apparently sparsely attended. The only
two I personally attended were the Salem Hamfest at Rickreall, way back
in February, and the Mike and Key Hamfest in Puyallup, WA in March. As
the pandemic continued to heighten, both the upcoming 2021 editions of
the popular Salem Hamfest, and Mike and Key Hamfest were proactively
canceled. Now, probably to nobody’s amazement, (and much
disappointment), our SEA-PAC is following suit. This, of course, takes
the ARRL Northwestern Division Convention out of the equation at the
same time. When will this all end, and when can we get “back to
normal”? At this point in time, 2022 is looking pretty good, and
that’s a sad thought. For the very latest on 2021 hamfest and event
status, check out Assistant Director Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO’s website

Last March, when it became obvious that pandemic was becoming a real
issue, the NW Division obtained a 100 seat Zoom virtual meeting license
to allow our amateur radio groups to put together virtual meetings for
their members. To say it’s been a success would be an understatement.
So successful, in fact, that later in the year Vice Director Tharp,
KB7HDX, set up a second Division Zoom account to handle meeting
overflow. The ARRL Idaho, Montana, and the Oregon Sections also set up
their own Zoom accounts. The total number of virtual club meetings held
via just the two NW Division accounts was close to 150 for the year.
That’s a lot of meetings, and a lot of clubs able to engage virtually
with their members. These are in addition to the many clubs that set up
their own virtual meeting platforms! The resourceful amateurs within our
Division have adapted to the challenges put before them by this
pandemic, and our Division continues to prosper. Congratulations to all
of you for hanging in there! I know it’s a worn out phrase by now, but
“we will all get through this together”, and you are proving it.

Next, you all have probably seen the latest ARRL bulletin put out
yesterday. For those that may have missed it, I’ll repeat it here:

“For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National
Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of
the science and art of communications, public service, and the
enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history
and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that
“Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their
training, and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have
earned their status as a component of critical communications
infrastructure and as a reliable resource “when all else fails.”

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible
public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service
and its statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes
inconsistent with these values and purposes.”

I’ve received a few phone calls and e-mails wondering what this is all
about. To me, the message itself lacks context, and that is causing
some confusion among members. Here is context related to this bulletin,
as I understand it:

This message is much less a message to ARRL members than a message aimed
at the mass media, who have been reporting on hand-held radios seen hung
on belts and tactical vests being used by some of the US Capitol
rioters, and describing those hand-held radios as “ham radios”.
This implies that there were duly licensed amateurs partaking in the
chaos. Worse, this morning on the ABC show “Good Morning America” a
piece by Martha Raddatz specifically referred to the hand-helds spotted
as “amateur radios”.

This kind of press certainly does not paint amateur radio is a good
light, and is detrimental to the general public’s view of our hobby.
(Especially as we work with Congress to get a new amateur radio HOA
antenna relief bill passed this year!)

As a result of the media activity the FCC posted an Enforcement Advisory
bulletin of its own: DA 21-73. Here is a link to the actual text from
the ARRL website:
. Note that the FCC notice is not only aimed at amateurs, but also
personal radio services, such as FRS, GMRS, and CB. (Which many of the
radios noted by media probably were in the first place.)

So, the bottom line is: The ARRL bulletin is a response to the media and
to the FCC bulletin, and that’s all. It has been reported today that
some of the mass media articles have changed their descriptions of these
radio devices used by rioters to simply “hand-helds”, rather than as
“ham radios”, and that helps.

As this week unfolds please be on the alert. If you note any suspected
illegal activity on your local repeaters, or radio activity you think is
suspicious while on the air, please record what you can, noting
callsigns (if used), and let ARRL Volunteer Monitor Manager, Riley
Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, (, know as soon as possible, or
follow the instructions listed in the FCC Enforcement Advisory.

After two long days of Vice Director Tharp and I sitting for hours on
end and staring at our computer screens, the ARRL January virtual Board
meetings of last weekend are finally over. I would expect the official
minutes to be out fairly quickly, but that will depend on what else ARRL
staff has going on, and if there are any edits to incorporate. The most
exciting thing to come out of the meetings, at least for me, is that I
was honored to have been appointed by President Roderick, K5UR as new
permanent chair of the Programs and Services Committee for this year, (I
was serving since January 1st as an interim chair), as well as being
asked by ARRL CEO Minster, NA2AA, to be the first to serve on the new
Strategic Planning Committee being put together. These will both be
demanding roles, and being on the Strategic Planning Committee will
certainly be exciting as we all work together to chart out the future
path of the League. It has taken a full year since my Board motion to
create this adhoc committee was approved and we now are able to get
things moving. The Board and ARRL staff can begin work to outline
critical objectives and chart tactical plans for the future of the ARRL,
and helping to ensure a bright future for amateur radio itself.

In addition to the above, I am still on the Board’s HF Bandplanning
committee, although I can’t predict how active it will be this year.
Vice Director Tharp remains as the chair of the Amateur Radio aboard the
International Space Station (ARISS) Committee, and remains a member of
the Emergency Management committee.

While I cannot report on actions that occurred in the Board meeting
until the official minutes are released, a couple of motions I thought
would be tackled by the ARRL Board didn’t make it on the final agenda.
The topics were: A plan to sunset the two formal PSC advisory committees
for contesting and DXCC, replacing them with a more agile “pool of
vetted experts”, and the second was the creation of a third standing
committee devoted to EmComm.

The latter was a matter of timing; the Directors working on the project
to add a new EmComm standing committee just couldn’t get the motion
prepared in time, as there’s a lot of governance documentation to
update as a part of the process. The former was a withdrawal
recommendation that I made to the PSC when it became obvious in
discussions with other Directors prior to the Board meeting that the
motion would either fail, or be at best a close vote. I don’t believe
a close vote in favor would have been a real victory in this case. ARRL
members deserve better. As a result of Board and member inputs there
were a lot of useful suggestions brought forth on how to improve the
PSC’s interactions with the existing two advisory committees without
fully gutting what exists at present. As the new committee chair, I
would rather, if needed, bring something back to the full Board that
will receive a unanimous vote.

Please, everyone continue to “stay safe”.


Mike Ritz, W7VO
ARRL NW Division Director

Now, Vice Director Mark Tharp, KB7HDX, provides us a recap of 2020, as
submitted as part of our “2020 Northwestern Division Report” to the

ARRL Board:

Northwestern Division Vice Director report

Below is a summary of events I attended, events canceled I had planned
to attend, committee activity, and division statistics for the period
January through December, 2020.

It continues to be my honor to serve as Vice Director in the
Northwestern Division.

Attended events:
Mike and Key in Puyallup, WA
Salem Hamfair in Rickreall, OR
N7YRC group swap, Union Gap, WA

Cancelled events I planned to attend however were canceled due to

River Radio Campout /Swap in Pateros WA. Digital Summer Gathering,
Valley Camp, WA
Yakima Hamfest, Yakima, WA Wenatchee Hamfest, Dryden, WA
SEA-PAC, Seaside, OR Tri-cities Swapmeet, Richland, WA
PNW DX Convention, Portland, OR PNWVHF convention, Bend, OR
Washington State Convention and Hamfest, Spokane, WA

Committee activity:

I serve on the following committees
EMDSC-member LDaC-member
PSEWG-member ARISS- Chair

Emergency Management Director search committee: I was appointed to serve
on this committee in April as a voting member by President Rodrick. The
committee met almost weekly via ZOOM with each other as well as
conducting interviews. After much appreciated work by all the committee
members, Mr. Paul Gilbert was hired and the committee continues to
operate as an advisory body for his position.

Public service enhancement working group (PSEWG): The board members on
this committee were also serving on the Emcom Director search committee
and as that took priority over other activities, the PSEWG was not very
active during the year and it is my understanding it will be sunset at
the January BOD meeting, replaced by a new standing committee yet to be

Legal defense and assistance committee: This committee worked on a
motion to change to its charter to allow a broader range of involvement
in the amateur community. We also were involved in financial assistance
for on ongoing case in Pennsylvania.

ARISS committee: The ARISS committee continues to provide assistance
with support in news reports and coordinating staff assistance with
various items. The committee worked on revising banner ads for use in
QST and other publications as printing space allows.

Board of director meeting: I attended the January annual meeting in
Connecticut as well as the first ever “virtual meeting” in July.

With Covid closing down just about everything you can think of during
the year remote meetings were very much needed and about the only way
for clubs to continue operating. Director Ritz and myself both obtained
a licensed account for ZOOM and have been assisting clubs and groups to
hold virtual meetings, participating when time allows. On the upside of
this pandemic, the forced move to web-based meetings has provided the
opportunity to join in on meetings that we would have otherwise not been
able to attend. I have also assisted non-Amateur groups for ZOOM
meetings and used that opportunity to talk with them about Amateur
radio. (win win)

Division stats:

The Northwestern Division continues to show a positive number of new
members each month however the number of new members in relation to
total number of licensees is down slightly from prior years. In
discussing this with a few VE teams, the consensus is that people are
getting licensed strictly for personal emergency communications and are
not interested in joining the league, or clubs.

For the period ending December 31st 2020, the Northwestern Division had
72,837 licensed Amateur radio operators, that number is up 1,356 from

  1. Of that number, 12,690 are ARRL members, approximately 17.4%. We
    showed an increase in members of 1.6% since December 2019.

ARRL total membership ending December 2020 was 158,494 and the total
number of US licensees was approximately 771,938. The Northwestern
division is below the national average of licensee to member by roughly

New licenses issued within the Northwestern Division in 2020:

January 110 April 49 July 196 October 302
February 343 May 128 August 290 November 186
March 234 June 273 September 244 December 244

TOTAL: 2694

We have seen an uptick in people asking about testing, and communication
from the public about license classes. It seems being stuck at home is
enough of a trigger to get those that have thought about getting a
license off the fence and starting to study. I would expect the next few
months to see a continued increase in new licenses and now it falls on
us to retain them, as well as convince them to join the ARRL.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX – Vice Director, NW Division

ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO

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