I was the editor of our monthly radio club newsletter while in high school. Members supplied me with handwritten “news” items and I would bang these (along with my own commentary) out using a Smith Corona electric typewriter. I worked diligently to avoid mistakes. Typos in those days were a genuine pain, even with the advent of auto-correcting ribbon.
After assembling the typical 4-6 pages, I cranked out a hundred copies using a mimeograph machine. I always made a hundred copies even though there were only about twenty-five people in our club.
I’m not sure whatever became of all those “extras”.
I suppose that’s how I came to love publishing, and though nearly everything about the process has changed, I still enjoy it and it’s the reason I launched CALLING CQ - a weekly letter for ham radio enthusiasts.
(While radio amateurs repeatedly call “CQ” I took the name CALLING CQ because that was the title of a 1941 book about the hobby written by Clinton B. DeSoto. I checked that book out of my school library a hundred times and it was what inspired me to pursue an amateur radio license.)
You can get your hobby news online, there’s more than enough of it available and in a myriad of formats. So much that it can be challenging to keep up with it all. Reading blogs and visiting Web sites is probably not the best way to stay informed about a wide range of topics, unless you have time to read an awful lot of them.
Club newsletters, even those published in Newington, can be excellent sources of news and information, but these tend to have a narrow focus, as well they should.
CALLING CQ is the result of deliberate content curation, a process where the most relevant and interesting details about the hobby are collated and organized. It’s not just a collection of links, I often include a “postscript” where I toss in my own two cents on various topics.
The goal is to produce a letter that informs and entertains. It’s not perfect, the process is iterative, but I’m continually working on it. I try to keep it to just 1,000 words because I want it to be read and not just skimmed - or ignored.
Turns out, throttling a firehose into a pithy stream is quite the chore!
It’s delivered via email because that reduces friction. Operating systems, applications, formats, RSS - these all can make things more complicated than they need to be. The process of installing an application, using a particular browser, or a specific file format all vary depending the operating system being used.
But everyone has email. It’s simple and available to everyone, everywhere.
And believe it or not, the practice has come back into style. We now find ourselves in the era of the personal email newsletter, an almost retro delivery system that blurs borders between the public and the private, and mashes up characteristics of the analog and digital ages.
TinyLetter is the service I use to manage the mailing list and is free for lists with fewer than 5,000 subscribers. It handles the subscription process as well as the distribution of the letter when I hit the big SEND button in the cloud.
Though I have access to a few statistics about each letter sent, I try not to look at it too much. I used to have it set to email me whenever someone subscribed or unsubscribed but I found that created undesirable emotional swings. I was jubilant when 50 people subscribed on Tuesday, and then fretted when 17 subscribers dropped off on Friday. Now, I just ignore the stats and produce the letter.
There is an option to make all of the published letters available for viewing on the Web. I don’t use that because I’d prefer you subscribe. But I do keep a few recent letters in the archive so prospective readers can get some idea of what the letter includes.
It’s available for free, there is absolutely no cost to subscribe.
If you don’t already subscribe then I invite you to sign-up and see what all the fuss is about. It’s simple enough to unsubscribe if you find it’s not your cup of tea. Hopefully, you will find it to be another useful tool in your exploration and adventures in amateur radio.