Over the last several months (although it feels like years), we have been inundated with political ads and the occasional porch greeting by local candidates. By the time you read this, hopefully our elected leaders are clearly identified and ready to take their respective oaths in the coming months. One thought captures my imagination lately; what if we embraced “keeping the squelch loose” outside our world in the Parker Radio Association?

For students at all levels, educators and parents alike, this year faced tremendous uncertainty on the school year. Planning and preparation has taken on a completely different landscape. As distracting as the last school year ended, it prepared all levels for the unexpected. At the bottom line, the results of these preparations are playing out. What was weird, awkward and messy at the end of last school year is now relatively smooth and for better or worse, this experience has the opportunity to position itself as a new beginning. I know that with one high-schooler left in my house, what was stressful last school year is now loose and met with a level of curiosity in learning methods and adapting to new hybrid models of learning.

For the PRA, we have a lot of adapting to do as well. What we thought was temporary in March, April, and May of this year with the shift from face-to-face meetings to online platforms, we quickly adapted and embraced what was in front of us as an organization. The path of least resistance simply was not an option for the Leadership and Committee Chairs. Instead, it was amazing to watch the increase in activity, curiosity, and learning that has taken place. In 2020, we have increased our membership by over 90%. We could have simply done on-the-air nets and called it good; however, we dug in and leveraged technology to our advantage through live video presentations and recording our monthly business and Elmer Nights to YourTube. Our active curiosity propelled a paradigm shift in our thinking of “how can we possibly make this work?” to “let’s see how we make this work.” Throughout it all, one core belief resonated…we had to “keep the squelch loose.”

As November begins, we are over 80% of way through 2020 and time changes and early darkness is upon us. I urge you to use your time wisely in the coming weeks and months in supporting amateur radio. How you may ask?

First, get involved. Our various committees are VERY active and are great ways to learn something new. For example, don’t know about how repeaters work? Join the repeater committee! You’ll know the difference between a duplexer, and a controller in no time. Maybe you are interested in how to work HF portable? We have our Portable Ops Group that will get you to grab your gear and head to the outdoors. This is only a couple of examples of committees at your service.

Second, get on-the-air. Each and every member of the PRA has been the ‘new ham’ on the block and I can assure you that you will be welcomed with encouragement, enthusiasm, and a warm welcome on any one of our repeaters. Mic-fright is real and I am happy to admit, I had it, too, when I was first licensed. Once I got over mic-fright as a Technician, it came back again when I upgraded to General and jumped on the HF bands. Luckily enough, I was elmered (instructed), by a couple of great hams when I first got into the hobby. They taught me to jump in, make mistakes, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Taking my first couple of nets was frightening, but taught me to slow down, listen intently, and ask clarifying questions for accuracy. No better way to get over mic-fright at 14 years old than to take a net with 67 check-ins on a Tuesday night for a Philadelphia area net.

Third, ask a lot of questions. The members of the PRA absolutely love and embrace questions because we believe that when we can shorten the learning curve, the more rewarding the amateur radio service will be for newly licensed operators.

Forth, join the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). The ARRL is much more than a monthly magazine. It is the only national organization for amateur radio operators that protects our valuable frequency spectrum, while providing a buffet of weekly, monthly and quarterly publications for operators at all levels. The newly released ARRL Learning Network is one of the best learning libraries I have ever seen. As a member of the ARRL, you have full access to not only past sessions, but you can participate in the Live sessions as well. Again, this is but a slight taste of all the ARRL has available for its members. Be sure to check out www.arrl.org

As November and turkey time is upon us, I remain thankful for you, the Parker Radio Association member. This organization belongs to you and we thank you for your trust, support, and participation over the past several months. We hope that throughout our preparation, we have kept a spirit of “keeping the squelch loose” and I am certain that we can carry that kindred spirit in the months and years to come as we improve and promote our amateur radio service.

Dan – N2SRK
Parker Radio Association

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