While I was in high school, I was the editor of our monthly radio club newsletter. Members supplied me with handwritten “news” items and I would bang these out using a Smith Corona electric typewriter. Typos in those days were a genuine pain, even with the advent of auto-correcting ribbon, making it a tedious process.
After assembling the typical four to six pages, I cranked out a hundred copies using a smelly 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 although nearly everything about the process has changed, I still enjoy it and it’s why I launched CALLING CQ - a weekly letter for ham radio enthusiasts.
(While radio amateurs frequently and 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 fairly narrow focus, as well they should.
CALLING CQ is the result of deliberate content curation, a process where the most relevant and interesting news and information across a wide spectrum of the hobby is collected and organized. It’s not just a collection of links to other places, each letter includes a “postscript” where I toss in my own two cents on various topics.
My goal is to craft a letter that keeps readers on top of important items without the need for exhaustive search. It’s not perfect, the improvement process is iterative and I’m continually tweaking it.
I want to try to do that in just 1,000 words because I want it to be read, not just skimmed. And in that quest I’ve discovered that throttling a firehose into a pithy stream is quite the chore!
It’s delivered via email because I want to reduce friction. Requiring a specific application, format, or even RSS subscription all produce some amount of friction. The process of installing an application, using a particular browser, or a specific file format all vary depending on the operating system being used.
But everyone has email. It’s simple and available to everyone, everywhere.
Besides, the practice has come back into style and 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 it’s 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 those too much. At one point, I had it set to email me whenever someone subscribed or unsubscribed but that created undesirable results for me. I was jubilant when 50 people subscribed on a Tuesday, and then fretted when 17 subscribers dropped off on a Friday.
These days, 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 fee to subscribe.
I’ve had inquiries from a few vendors who would like to advertise in CALLING CQ and I’m currently working on a way to accommodate those requests, probably in the form of a single advertisement from a weekly sponsor – but there are no plans to ever charge a subscription fee for the letter.
If you don’t already subscribe then I invite you to sign-up and see for yourself. 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.