Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Uneasy Alliance: Hams & SWL

Recently a Ham said to me, “You know, I don’t think anyone has put Hams and SWL together before; at least not to my knowledge. And you have, with HamFanz.”

Yet it seemed to me (5 years ago), to be a marriage made in heaven and the next logical step in the hobby. I have never understood those that cannot recognize that the two ‘hobbies’ are but different sides of the same coin.

The sentiment that Hams and SWL have no business walking on the same ground has come up many times before. Here are some quotes by Hams you might or might not know that have been posted in recent years at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HamFanz :

11.4.05 Bill Houlne wb6bnq
“There is NO MORAL or LEGAL requirement for ANY Amateur radio operator to provide ANY service of ANY kind to ANY party that is listening in ANY incidental manner of ANY sort. So your position that ANY said Amateur radio operator deserves a lashing or is a BUM is totally without ANY merit. The fact that some people provide receivers listening to Amateur radio frequencies in NO WAY infers ANY liability on the part of the unsuspecting Amateur Radio participants.This seems to be a common attitude of non-participating listeners. For some reason they feel they have a right to be included in an Amateurs pursuit of HIS hobby. Clearly, this is errant behavior on the part of the non-participating listener.If the non-participating listener desires to be included in such activities, then they are welcome to study the relevant material necessary and get their own license. This way they can PARTICIPATE in the hobby in any allowed manner as they so chose.”11.4.05 Bart Baily km6rf
“I agree totally that the participants in an ongoing QSO incur no obligation to parse and explain any QSY movements solely for the benefit of SWLers. I can also understand, and to a degree sympathize with theirfrustration at having their vicarious activities thwarted. Having once been a somewhat high profile rag chewer, as you well know, I can state that frequency changes are more often a matter of accommodating the vagaries of propagation and/or curious technical whimsy, rather than any efforts to cloak and obfuscate the content of the conversation.”

5.27.06 Pete Slagle k6xl
“SWLs can listen whenever they want, but, IMHO, that is unrelated to whatmakes ham radio unique and valuable.”

2.8.06 Carl Richardson kb5fjx
“...Well I have to respond to this one, and I want to make something very clear. Amateur Radio Operators are not on the air to entertain SW Listeners...”

What the above opinions have in common (other than being totally self-serving and niggardly) is that they do not take into account the fact that many Hams not only want to be heard, want an audience, but also want their own fans. Many (certainly not all) Hams found their way into Amateur Radio in because of thwarted, cut short, or fantasized broadcasting careers.

Many SWL’s found the world of Amateur Radio because they WANTED to listen to live productions. They craved the drama, and vicarious living that used to be a part of broadcast radio (talk shows?).

A number of these SWL are elderly, ill, disabled, poor, and perhaps even alone. Exciting or boring, there is nothing like that voice from the radio to help you get through the night.

Then there are the SWL’s who are actually licensed Hams, and just do not have the equipment or circumstances to currently be on air.
What many Hams (like those quoted above) do not realize, is that they too, could easily be in the position of being a SWL by any number of common life circumstances.

As one SWL stated recently in an email; "Do you know of any place online to hear 3840 streaming? Do you know where www.smeter.net was getting it from, the URL or IP number? I think it was some HAM in Ogden, UT. www.smeter.net is down and they usually have it. I have MS and I'm in bed a lot and up all night with pills. It's the highlight of my night to hear that crowd. LOL"

I had to reply that I did not. Since Jim Southwick n7js, has decided he has put enough time, money and effort into his online tuner, it is SWL like the one quoted above that suffer, with no choice except to listen to Art Bell w6obb, Pahrump Receiver (I for one, am grateful to him for streaming the audio of 3.678.)

The thing I do not understand is the uncompleted syllogism of 1) Hams like to talk 2) Hams want listeners 3) (uncompleted) Every frequency (Ham) or group streams their audio to listeners.

As one Ham (requesting anonymity) put it: “It really would be nice if someone just did a dedicated streamer for 3.840 (a fifth grader can figure that out although most hams probably can't unfortunately).”

So where ARE the audio streams for 3.740, 3.840, and other frequencies??? HamFanz is still trying to put Hams and SWL’s together!


k6mit said...

whats this alliance crap ? if swls want a site to listen to, then they should be the ones creating the site. ive never noticed anything in part 97 that says i have to kiss a swls ass and give him some crap to listen to.

Anonymous said...

You missed the point, MIT. Let's turn to this ham for direction:

11.4.05 Bill Houlne wb6bnq
“There is NO MORAL or LEGAL requirement for ANY Amateur radio operator to provide ANY service of ANY kind to ANY party that is listening in ANY incidental manner of ANY sort. So your position that ANY said Amateur radio operator deserves a lashing or is a BUM is totally without ANY merit..."

The point is, if your LEARN some GRAMMAR like this TWIT with his CAPS, ham radio will be SAVED. Now, HIGHLIGHT that TEXT.

Got it?

Anonymous said...



Since the “Radio Act of 1912” and subsequent ACTS, the federal government has recognized and enacted laws governing a radio transmitting station. These laws specifically state that the responsibility of the station operation and content lie wholly within the purview of the station owner if they follow applicable law.

Congress has enacted and published the “LAW” as the “United States Code” (USC for short). Title 47 of the USC covers “Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs” and chapter 5 (cite 47USC5) covers “Wire or Radio Communication.” Chapter 5 gives the authority for the creation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Subchapter III, titled “Special Provisions Relating to Radio,” specifically deals with Amateur radio.

The WEB link to the government site for 47USC5 Subchapter III and its parts :


All government regulatory agencies create regulations derived from the “LAW” contained in the USC. The regulations are entered into the “Federal Register” and published as the “Code of Federal Regulations” (CFR). The Federal Communications Commission regulations are contained in Title 47 of the CFR. The section of Title 47 pertaining to Amateur radio is section 97 (cite 47CFR97). These regulations define and control how Amateur radio is to be.

For those who are not familiar with those regulations, they should take the time to read and try to comprehend them. No where does the term SWL exist in 47CFR97. No where in any CFR or, for that matter, in any USC element does the term SWL exist. Therefore, the term SWL is unrecognized and clearly there is no intent that an SWL has any function or purpose as related to the “LAW.”

The WEB link to the government site for 47CFR97 and all of its parts :


Evvy, you are not the first person to put, as you say, “Hams and SWLs” together. Nor is Art Bell able to claim that either. Many major receiver manufacturers made such comments in their advertizing gigs going back to the 1920's or 1930's. In recent times one of the most popular providers of kits, yes, the Heathkit Company, has used such commentary in their advertizing as well.

What these companies did not do, was to make the arrogant premise that these VOYEURS, in the United States of America, had any right other then to listen, freely, to the radio spectrum. The US constitution and the Bill of Rights, except as recently amended by the “Communications Act,” guarantee this.

Likewise, the Amateur radio operator and the Federal Government, except the cellular provision, have no control over what an individual listens to with their radio apparatus. However, the FCC does NOT allow the Amateur radio operator broadcast a one way communication to the public. Thus, any transmissions made to SWL’s would be prohibited. Unfortunately, this has occurred and is being encouraged by people like Art Bell (W6OBB), Stan (WG6K) and others by advertising their phone numbers for the purpose of “phone patching.” The reason the FCC has not acted on this point is that it has not risen to the level that warrants spending what little enforcement money is available.

While individuals may listen to shortwave radio content, they have no right to expect or even demand a connection to any shortwave transmitting station’s operation, Amateur or otherwise. NO, the two hobbies (Amateur/SWL) are not two sides of the same coin, they are distinctly different. The typical “real” SWL listener is a person who listens to the whole spectrum. This includes overseas Broadcast stations, ship to shore, utility stations, government stations, HF aircraft stations, RTTY stations, and Amateur stations among other signals.

The fact that you and some others listen ONLY to Amateurs and most specifically listen for ART BELL does not put you all into the same class as an SWL. Those who are true SWLs most likely would take offense to your use of the term.

Your use of the term “niggardly” is telling. The term means “lacking in quantity or quality.” Those quoted not only told the “whole” truth but “all” of the facts as well. So I do not see how that is lacking in quantity or quality.

You are incorrect that Amateur’s, in whole, got into Ham radio because they wanted broadcast careers besides wanting to be heard, wanting an audience and fans. Boy, are you wrong except for one thing. Yes they want to be heard but only by another Amateur !

Yes, a few Amateurs crave attention of the masses and have misguided efforts in Amateur radio. Some of them even deliberately violate the rules based on their misgivings. Fortunately just a few are in that category and I am not referring to those who are jamming.

As for the Internet receivers, why do all those who are complaining and claiming it is so easy not do their own ? It is easy to talk when you do not have to produce.

Finally, it is a shame, Evvy, that you have turned to JUNK journalism. Writing deliberate trash to draw readers speaks poorly of yourself, not others.



evvy garrett said...

Bill wb6bnq wrote:

>>>Your use of the term “niggardly” is telling. The term means “lacking in quantity or quality.”

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright© 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.:

nig·gard·ly (nĭgərd-lē)

1. Grudging and petty in giving or spending.

2. Meanly small; scanty or meager: left the waiter a niggardly tip.

Which is EXACTLY what I meant, and the responses to this article only reinforces the appropiate use of the word 'nigardly'.

Russ E. Bedsprings said...

"...Writing deliberate trash to draw readers speaks poorly of yourself, not others..."

Mr. Houlne, are you a pontiff? Or just a chatroom monitor? Either way, this is called FREE SPEECH, and it DOES have value, even if you don't like the content.

And, isn't it ANNOYING to CHANGE CASE all the time, like YOU DO? How's the CODE PRACTICE coming along, OLD timer?

Anonymous said...


Russ my man,

Gee did you just finish a civics class ?

Besides, I never said I did not like the content, after all I was quoted first you will notice. Also, the fact that I consider it junk journalism has nothing to with free speech. Clearly you did not pay attention in class. In case you are not able to read too well, you will notice that I did not say Evvy couldn't write and post her stuff.

Code practice ? Your comment makes no sense, particularly as it does not apply to me. If you mean it is you jamming with the code, oh well. Whatever floats your boat!



Palomar Jack said...

Here's a thought, evvy (Your capitalization and grammar, not mine). Why don't you stop being so nig·gard·ly (nĭgərd-lē) and put up your own HF streaming server. After all, you have said in the past you're too smart to get your own Amateur Radio license, it should be a walk in the park.

"All comments must be approved by the blog author."

I guess we'll see if my reply gets "authorized", yeah?


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