This has been a week of ups and downs in the radio station news room. I was saddened by the loss of James McLaughlin, WA2EWE/T6AF, who was killed by an Afghan pilot on Wednesday, 27 April 2011, at the Kabul, Afghanistan Airport. The "ARRL Letter" dated 28 April 2011 has the details. Although I didn't know James, I was familiar with his DX and MARS activities. Many dusty years ago in another liftetime, I grew to appreciate the service MARS operators rendered to the families of service personnel in far-flung areas of the world. My experience in the Air Force actually encouraged me to get my amateur radio license back in 1977, a move I never regreted. I was involved in communications work before that (both in the service and in commercial broadcasting), but my duty tours made me appreciate the efforts of MARS operators in the days before the internet and cell phones. James will be missed. 'Kinda makes you wonder why this country wastes its human and material resources on basket-case nations that are better left alone. I'm familiar with all of the reasons given for our world-wide presence and there is no need to review the mistakes and lapses of judgment committed by leaders worldwide. Just take a look at the nearest gas pump and supermarket shelves to get an idea what our lack of foresight has caused. Suffice to say, I'm dissatisfied with the incompetence and willful neglect of facts that dominate the national scene. In the highly competitive broadcast business, if you don't produce, you don't get paid (I've been in sales, too). That's why I'm saddened by James's death--such as waste in a no-win cause. Based on my past military service and my nearly 3 decades of broadcast experience, this nation hasn't learned a thing from the mistakes from the past. So naive, so trusting, so foolish.
On a more positive note, the performance of amateur radio operators in tornado-ravaged Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina has been superb given the extent of the damage and the loss of life. Amateurs have been called upon to support many towns, many of which were hit heavily by violent weather. And across the Pacific, amateur radio operators are still helping Japan restore communications in areas devastated by the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. All of this should give us pause and question just how prepared we are to serve when the need arises. I'm improving my "go" kit, making sure emergency supplies are available, and keeping the trusty van fully fueled (even at $4.59 a gallon in Hilo). I hope you are prepared when the next disaster, natural or man-made, occurs. Of course, those of us living on an island have few options--there is no place to flee except to higher elevations. And being about 2,100 miles southwest of Los Angeles, it's a long swim for help.
The 48th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival is entering its final two days in Hilo. This is quite an event for Hawaii and for our stations in particular. Our Hawaiian music station (KAPA-FM) is doing a series of remote broadcasts from the main venue at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium, so most of the staff is fully engaged is staging this huge production. With state-wide radio and television coverage, the popularity of this Hawaiian cultural event has grown over the years. Hula troupes (halau) from California to Japan are participating in this week-long festival. At least the event gives me something to work on other than the usual "gloom and doom" of the news cycle.
Following today's shift, I'll try to squeeze some cw into the evening before I rise early Saturday morning to cover the Merrie Monarch Parade. All told, this has been a busy and rewarding week.
Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM
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Like many amateur radio operators, I live on a small lot surrounded by neighbors, utility lines, and civic-minded citizens concerned about ...