This appeared in the Fall 1994 Kanawha ARC (South
Charleston, W.V.) "Kanawha Splatter", Hal Turley-KC8FS,
Editor. It's a helpful article not only for newsletter editors,
but also for those aspiring "authors" in your club.
So you've worked the low bands and you're a regular on the high bands. But have you ever tried the "paper bands"? What's that? You're looking at it, the paper media, where we communicate by writing Strangely, though our hobby involves communication, few of us consider communicating our thoughts and ideas in the form of a written article. Perhaps we don't believe we are good enough to write a story for publication. Yet one shouldn't feel intimidated about telling our stories on paper. Here's why
First, each of us has stories tucked away in the recesses of our mind. It may be a news event, a humorous operating experience, something safety related, or on construction. Whatever, if it's in your memory, it's probably worth telling. In fact, you probably have already related such stories on the air
Second, generating a story for publication is no more difficult than taking on any other construction project. Once the idea gets seeded, we collect the parts for the project, In a story, the parts are the details that go into the finished manuscript
After we've gathered a project's components, we fire up the soldering iron and begin connecting the components into a network that will eventually give us a working prototype. In writing, we fire up our pencils, typewriters, or computers, and begin connecting the details we have gathered together to form an interesting, readable story.
Finally, when we begin a construction project we know that if the completed project doesn't work or needs fine tuning we can call on our "Elmer" or some other expert to help us get it working. Writers, too, have Elmers; they're called "Editors." Not only will your editor help you get your story operational, but more readable
The narrative - There are various types of writings, but we will only consider story telling, writing a narrative. The elements of any narrative involve answering the "five w's": who?, what?, where?, when?, and why? You must answer these essential questions before any story is complete, but you don't have to answer them in any particular order.
Writing a news story - Assuming
your appetite is whetted, let's consider writing a news event
story. Let's say you've chosen to write about your club's Field
Day operation. The next step is to gather the parts (details).
To do this, jot down the answers to the five w's. This ensures
that you include every detail necessary for a complete story.
Who: club members who participated
What: the Field Day contest
Where: wherever the operating site was
Why: It's a tradition, and members enjoy
Next connect the details together to produce a workable story. For our example: "The K. A. R. C. members participated in the 1994 A.R.R.L. Field Day exercise held at Cal Basham's South Hills property during the weekend of June 25, 1994. (That's who, what, where, and when.) Next connect the details together to produce a workable story. For our example: "The K. A. R. C. members participated in the 1994 A.R.R.L. Field Day exercise held at Cal Basham's South Hills property during the weekend of June 25, 1994. (That's who, what, where, and when.)
Field Day participation by the members is an annual event that has been a club tradition since the 1950's. (That's the why.) Although this example is a bare-bones report, it does answer all the "five w's. Now we can make our report more interesting by adding more details: "The weather was perfect during the weekend, when the gang fired up their portable rigs for the contest. For the first time in weeks, not a drop of rain tell, making the site dry enough to negotiate the hilly terrain. But rain or shine, every year the members enjoy pitting their operating skills against thousands of others throughout the country."
The embellished version helps the reader to picture the actual Field Day location and indicate the competitiveness of the members. Of course, infinite versions of the story are possible, but all must include the "five w's." You must consider two other elements when writing a story: tense and the person. Most news stories relate events that have already occurred, so past tense if appropriate. That is, "The weather was perfect ." not, "The weather is perfect...."
The person is the point of view of the subject in the story, and the pronoun gives it away. First person indicates the writer's own experience, so it uses I or we throughout. Second person uses you. Third person indicates another person or thing and it uses he, she, it, they, etc. News story most commonly use third the Field Day not I or we. Point of view must stay the same in any short story.
A personal experience story -The personal experience story also must answer all the "five w's." But unlike a news story, the personal experience normally is in first person, the I or we point of view. For example: "It was my first Field Day, and I must admit, unlike the more seasoned members, my stomach had butterflies." (That's the Who and What). "I arrived at the site just in time to help string up the low-band dipoles." (That's the where and when)" Soon the contest got underway, and I found myself nervously hunched over my operating position trying to score contacts. To my surprise, the butterflies went away and I found myself in sync with the other operators each of us doing what we came to do, making contacts and enjoying every minute of it. (That's the why).
In this example, the personal experience centered on getting over first-time anxiety. Other aspects of participation might have been equally interesting.
The "five w's" help you focus
The "five w's" can help you focus in on a particular topic. For example, they can help you brainstorm the topic of "Field Day." Here are more examples of various Field Day articles that answering the "five w's" revealed:
There I was at 14,110 feet above sea level without a parachute. It was 1960 at the Pikes Peak (or Bust) Auto Hill Climb...an annual event which attracts the best of championship and stock car race drivers. The likes of the Unser family, Andretti, Moss and Hill would never miss this event. After the Indianapolis 500, the drivers prepare their championship cars for the 12 miles of terror on the mountain. They come with supercharged championship racers and finely tuned stock cars and sports cars. In November 1806, Lt. Zebulon Pike couldn't get to the summit when he discovered the mountain, and now we race to the top --at almost 60 miles per hour. (Pike didn't know that he was promoted to Captain, three months earlier, in August). A couple of days before the race I tore down the carburetor of my 1955 Pontiac Star Chief and installed high altitude jets as I had in previous years. Even though living in Security, Colorado at 6,200 ft above MSL, I still needed to change the jets for the run up to the "Peak". Don't get the wrong impression- I didn't plan on competing. I was part of a group of hams of the Pikes Peak Amateur Radio Club providing a safety and timing radio net for the NASCAR sponsored race each year on the 4th of July. Those of us providing our mobile rigs had to get on the mountain before the general public was admitted. Therefore, at 6 a.m. I attacked the course, passing the starting line at 85 mph after getting a go ahead from W8ESP/0 (Bill Sheaves), the base radio station, that the road was clear. I had left the blacktop and was on dirt and gravel. Within a 1/2 mile I was at the first switchback doing 35 mph. For the rest of the run, I never got up to more than 40 or 45 mph. The engine was gasping for air and there was little of that above 10,000 ft. There is only so much the high altitude jets can do... I needed a supercharger. In any case, I beat the time of the pace car driven by the president of NASCAR later that day. Of course, he probably stopped at the 1/2 way house at Devils Corner for a hamburger. The race course is 12.4 miles (20-km) and runs from the 7 mile post to the summit, a climb of 4,711 feet from and elevation of 9,399 ft to 14,110 ft. It is an old race, first run in 1916 making it second oldest with the Indy 500 being the oldest US auto race. For his 4th win on the hill, Bob Unser did the 12.4mi in 12 min. and 56.7 sec (12' 56.7"). in a championship car (like an Indy racer). Uncle Lou Unser in a Chevrolet stock car timed at 15' 6 ". The previous year, Lou was first in a Pontiac stock car at 15' 36.6", Bob Unser took first in a Pontiac sport car at 13' 28.5" and brother Al was 2nd in the championship class. There were 10 mobile ham stations setup along the course with me at station 10, the finish line on the peak. That meant I got the most gas and oil coupons from Mobil, the sponsor of the race. 40 gallons of premium gas and 5 quarts of oil with the other stations receiving less. It could get quite hectic at the finish line trying to pass timing information between the start and finish line in addition to safety communications. Spectators sometime decide to cross the road to get a better view of the race and present a hazard. Rock slides, animals, jokesters etc., create problems. Fortunately, we managed to maintain good radio discipline, but the frequency was crowded and since all stations could not hear all the other stations, we had a few that stepped on our timing transmissions. All communications were on 75 meters at 3.885 mhz, it being our local rag chew frequency. It would have been nice to have the race timing on a separate band, so W8ESP/0 and I spent several hours working into the the night before trying to get a couple of AN/TRC-7 2 meter radios to work on the same frequency. Quite frustrating. Late into the night I suggested we open the crystal holders to check on what we had. As luck would have it, one of the holders was EMPTY. Very embarrassing for Bill as he then remembered having pulled and ground the crystal to an new frequency for some other use. We never did get to use 2 meters for the timing. I used an SCR 694 on 75 meters with a Mobile Master base loaded antenna. A dynamotor from an ancient ARC-1 provided B+. The SCR 694 was the WW-II predecessor to the AN/GRC-9 of the Korean era. Timing info couldn't be handled on land lines because there weren't any. All attempts to run hardwire lines for phones and power from the base of Pikes Peak to the top failed. All the way up the mountain you could see the remains of power and phone lines on the ground which appeared to have sections burned up. Lightning and severe static charges on the mountain destroy the wires. During my first race on the peak I had my initial experience with static charge interference. While listening to a transmission I detected a slight hiss that began to build up. It increased to a roar during which nothing came thru. Hair on my arms and neck stood up. There would be a loud crackling sound on the radio and bam, the mountain would discharge and communications would be back to normal -- for a little while. The next year I drove a copper rod into the ground next to the car and bonded it to the bumper. Little good that did. The whole mountain was charged and we couldn't hear anything when the static charge built up. The actual race starts at 10 am. However, all of the drivers spent the previous week on the mountain running time trials to determine who would get the pole position. The fastest in the trial runs, gets to be the first to race up to the peak. That is important, because the first to run the course is usually the winner. How so? Well, having been on the Pikes Peak 6 times (3 times for the races) I observed that the first car crosses the finish line clean without mud, dust or dirt. The rest of the cars cross muddy or dusty or both. It seems that it starts to rain at lower elevation after the first car passes through or is close to the finish. Invariably, the 2nd and subsequent cars get hit with the rain. And that isn't all. After the rain, the sun will shine for a few minutes followed by snow, which can be followed by sunshine or rain again. Here it is, July 4th, and one minute we are in T-shirts and the next we are in sweaters and windbreakers. The cars come barreling around the final turn in a skid with the right rear wheel perilously close to the edge of the dirt track. I forgot to mention that the road to "peak" is black top up to the start point at mile 7, where it turns to dirt and gravel. Nothing like going into a hairpin turn on dirt and suddenly sensing the rear wheels let go and you're in a skid toward a precipice at over 10,000 feet altitude. As I was at the finish line I had racing officials seated in my car responsible for calculating the elapsed times. The racers are started at 3 minute intervals and any variations in start time would be transmitted to me by Bill in the base station at the start line. When a vehicle crossed the finish line the finish time would be logged in and passed into the back of my car to the timing officials. They would calculate and record the elapsed time. The race drivers would come and try to get their time before the officials were ready to release the times officially. I guess they are now using lap-top computers to do the job. One family has laid claim to Pikes Peak over the years. It seems that the Unser family has won the climb many times. Bobby, Al, Al Jr, Uncle Frank and Louis and a host of other Unsers have run the gamut.
Getting up the mountain is exciting, however, getting down can be a trying experience. My car had conventional brake drums and shoes and an automatic transmission. I had to lead the pack on the way down after the race since all the race cars would line up behind my car upon completion of the race. With those crazy race drivers pushing me from behind I over extended my car's capabilities and in the middle of the descent my brakes started to fade. Talk about panic. Well, I made it. The Pike Peak Amateur Radio Club of Colorado Springs, CO provided this service each year. In additional, the club provided emergency communications when severe snow storms knocked out local telephone lines of the police and airport. The club also engaged in searches for tourists and hunters lost in the mountains and backwoods, many times on horse back using old World War II walkie-talkies. But that's another story. Thanks Jack for a very good article. The Editor
There's not too much news to report this month. We are now starting to hear, again, that Plt 5 will be closed this year. This rumor has been around for some years, and we never know if it will come true. But, if they get serious, we have to make some efforts to find another home for our station. I'll be keeping a close eye on this one.
They have begun constructing a new batch of Senior homes across from Plt 1 where I still work. I hear that the property hasn't been sold to them yet, but they have permission from the Company to start work. I guess they are anxious to make their millions.
We also have to extend our sympathies to Kate, AE2Z, over the loss of her husband, Saul. Please give her your condolences if you speak to her on the radio.
Frank, KA2DCT, is quite sick. He is in the hospital on a respirator, and having kidney problems as well. Let's hope he can shake this off, and return soon to his family.
The Radio Central Club is having their HamExpo affair on February 28th. This is one of the better Ham flea markets around. It'll be in Melville at the hotel on 110 on that Sunday. I mention this because Limarc is having a flea market in February also, and there is liable to be some confusion.
At our February meeting (the 17th ), there are 2 programs scheduled. First, Marty (NN2C) is going to try to get us a video tape of a recent Dxpedition to a rare island. I usually find these tapes fascinating, and I've seen dozens of them.
After the tape, we have a guest speaker, George Tranos, the ARRL Section Manager. He can't get here much before 5:45 PM, so he will speak to us for about 15 minutes upon his arrival. I hope you will all remain present until he has completed his brief talk to the Club.
As for me, I'll be in Florida, so I will not be able to make the meeting. One of the other Officers will preside over the chaos in my absence. Please give him the same respect you always show me.
We continue to make updates to the Club web site (qsl.net/wa2lqo ) when we can. I am still behind on some tasks. I had asked for updates to the Radio pictures, and I received about a half dozen emails. Some of the corrections were made, but as of this writing, I still have a few more to do. When I get some free lunch hours, I'll finish that job up. Of course, if you have any ideas for things that the Club should show on the web site, we can do that. I'd also like to invite you to send a picture of your shack, or your tower, etc., to be shown on the web site for a month. We can have a "guest corner" for such pictures. You can scan them into JPEGs and email them to me if you like.
-Pat KE2LJ email@example.com