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A 20-Year Lookback


*Email: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com


– 73, Rich W2VU

As mentioned here last month, this issue marks my 20th anniversary as Editor of CQ. It’s hard to imagine that so much time has gone by so quickly, but that’s a topic for another day. Working with a great team of authors, columnists, contest directors, award managers, and CQ staff members has made it all seem easy, and I thank you all for your ongoing support.

I narcissistically thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the November 1999 issue to see what has and hasn’t changed in the past 20 years. To start, the world has changed dramatically since 1999. Back then, September 11th was just another day on the calendar. Air travel was relatively easy. And the technology community was tying itself into knots over what might happen to the world’s electronics when the calendar flipped from 1999 to 2000 and all the two-digit year counters would think it was 1900 again. Amateur radio was at the beginning of a sea change in technology.

America’s 677,000 hams (vs. 760,000 today) were waiting for the FCC to release its decision on license restructuring. A Morse code exam was still required for all license classes above Technician. We didn’t have a 60-meter band yet, let alone 630 or 2200 meters. In terms of technology, we were at the dawn of the digital signal processing (DSP) era, the World Wide Web was just coming into its own, and the first internetaccessed remote HF station — W7DXX — had just come on the air. Digital voice modes were in their infancy and K1JT was still working on the first release of his WSJT software that would revolutionize moonbounce, meteor scatter and, with the advent of FT8, HF DXing.

One thing that has not changed is the basic nature of ham radio, or of individual hams. We still come from all walks of life, are linked by a shared interest in radio communication, are dedicated to helping our fellow hams and our communities, and are happy to share our knowledge with each other. As always, CQ continues to rely on our readers to also be our writers, sharing their knowledge to help us all get more out of amateur radio. And it doesn’t hurt that many of our readers are highly experienced experts in their fields. For example, in this issue, Ray Vincent, W6PUX, who wrote “Tracking Down Radio Noise at My QTH (A Work in Progress),” is a leading expert on radio noise, having researched its causes and cures for decades (see “Behind the Bylines” on page 78). And it’s comforting for the rest of us to know that even an expert can’t always come up with a quick solution!

What about CQ itself? How has this magazine changed and not changed in the past 20 years?

Looking at the masthead for the November 1999 issue, only one Contributing Editor —Irwin Math, WA2NDM —is still writing his monthly column. Most of the others have either retired or, sadly, become Silent Keys. A couple of them are still here, but have changed hats. John Dorr, K1AR, was Contesting Editor in 1999, and is now CQ World Wide DX Contest Director; and Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, switched from being WPX Contest Director in 1999 to WPX Award Manager today. Both have been consistent sources of good counsel over the past two decades, regardless of title. We have also gone from having 11 columns in 1999 —all monthly —to 22 in 2019, some of which appear bi-monthly or quarterly, to cover a greater range of interests and share a greater number of voices.

We have had much greater longevity among our full-time staff. Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA; Associate Publisher / Advertising and Production Director Dottie Kehrwieder, Art Director Liz Ryan, and Production Manager Emily Leary all were on the masthead in 1999 and are still there today.

In 1999, CQ Communications published six magazines, all available only in print. Due to changes in the marketplace and economic necessities over the past two decades, two of those titles were sold and three others were merged into CQ. Changes in technology led to our introduction of a digital edition in 2011. The net result is a bigger magazine covering a broader spectrum of the communications hobby, accessible in both print and digital formats.

Our areas of regular coverage have evolved as well. We have added columns on emergency communications, kitbuilding (celebrating its 10th anniversary this month), low and medium frequency operating, microcontrollers, amateur radio direction-finding, and more. Our content evolves with the hobby, following our readers’ interests and, in many cases, providing leadership in promoting various aspects of ham radio. This has been a constant for the past 75 years. Some other things that have not changed: Our dedication to sharing ham radio’s central appeal of working DX and making friends around the world, to improving our operating skills through friendly competition, to increasing our technical skills through greater understanding of basic concepts and practical projects, and to promoting the magic of ham radio to each succeeding generation of young amateurs. And while we keep hearing that young people are no longer interested in ham radio, we keep meeting those who are, such as up-andcoming contester VE7DZO, who graces this issue’s cover (see his story on page 47).

Happy Thanksgiving! As always, we wish our U.S. readers a very Happy

Thanksgiving and note (along with Contesting Editor K3ZJ) that this year, the CW weekend of the CQ World Wide DX Contest does not fall on Thanksgiving weekend. So have fun in the contest (remember, the CQWW makes its own propagation!) and then celebrate with a nice Thanksgiving dinner a few days later.

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