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Saturday, September 5, 2009

My "QSO" with Wayne Green, W2NSD

September 5 marks an anniversary of sorts.

Recently I was cleaning out the shack and came across a bunch of old magazines (Monitoring Times, QST, CQ, SERA Repeater Journal) and found one issue of a magazine I regretted buying; the August 1998 edition of 73 magazine.

I'd seen it at the newsstands and caught an issue or two as I was perusing the magazine racks at Books-A-Million. I'd see them at a radio club gathering sometimes, but otherwise paid it no mind.

I bought this magazine and had it on the kitchen table for a few days, until I finally had some free time and cracked open the magazine that would expose me to the ever-infamous (if not shameless) Wayne Green.

The articles were not that interesting, to be quite honest. How to build a FET probe, updating old linears, and a review of the Kachina 505DSP computer transceiver (on the 133 Mhz Pentium processor) were the big stories. Then, as I was finishing up the magazine I caught the "Never Say Die" editorial (and I use that term lightly) that started on pages 4-5, continued on page 37, then to page 71, and then from pages 80 to 86.

A full 11 pages of commentary. How much of it was about ham radio? The first four paragraphs where he eulogized the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, and he couldn't even complete that section without going into some diatribe about preventing strokes and how Barry would have kicked ass as President (one thing Wayne and I actually agree on).

He then went on to discussing about a "performance" (why can't he just call it a speech?) he was giving in Peoria and how he wanted to talk about a variety of topics. And then he started hocking his literature.

Page after page after page was spent on some of the most unreal subjects one could possibly imagine being in a ham radio magazine. I can understand if someone wanted to put this kind of stuff in After Dark magazine, but in a ham radio publication??? I ended up referring to the magazine as "Seventy-turds".

Here is a copy of that "editorial". He and I had an exchange on that archaic form of communication called snail mail. Even though I was on the internet in 1998, apparently he wasn't. Yahoo, Infoseek and AOL Webcrawler (how's that for old school) yielded no results for pages he might have, and Google? What was that?!?!?!

Even though the internet was relatively young, a lot of businesses were already getting online. 73 wasn't one of them. So I hunkered down and wrote him a letter, which is below. He responded to me in a letter dated 8 days later. It's below my letter.

Just as an FYI: I had only been in ham radio for 5 years that year (callsign KE4HSM before I dropped the "E" through the vanity call system), and Wayne Green was not someone I was familiar with. I brought him up one night soon after on a net and the reaction from the locals was one of "you mean you've never heard of him?" While I was not familiar with him, I had heard of him and knew he was a publisher. That was all I gathered from him. Little did I know...

This would be the only time he and I corresponded. There was no need for anything more after those letters and you'll see why. Basically we spoke our peace and moved on with our lives. You can read the letters here or continue below.

First, my letter to Wayne, dated September 5, 1998:
Dear Mr. Green:
Recently I went into a bookstore to pick up some publications and decided to "test drive" some of the Amateur Radio magazines on the newsstand. I came across the August issue of 73 magazine and bought it along with a couple of others.
I began to read your magazine and found the articles inside somewhat mediocre. I then came across your editorial. Is is of your editorial that I write to you today.
The first think I noted was that your editorial took up a large chunk of the magazine, seeing as to how it was 10 pages long and spread out over 80 plus pages of your magazine. I figured you must have either had a lot on your mind or it was a slow news month.
It started out with a brief remark about the late Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, then a minor blurb about the Dayton Hamvention. Then the rest of the editorial I found to be absolutely ludicrous a total waste of my time reading it [sic].
Mr. Green, your journalistic integrity (or lack thereof) makes me wonder how you maintain any subscribers other than those who use it for a good laugh. What in hell does your "conspiracy theories" about the moon landings, Mozart's music, the educational system, capitalism vs. socialism, refined sugar, Russia's nuclear missiles, and smoking causing impotence (among a host of other ridiculous topics), have to do with the Amateur Radio community or HAM radio in general?
What makes me even more outraged is the fact that you shamelessly promote your "fine line of products" and hock others' as well throughout your "editorial". What do I care about your wife's $15 video of how NASA could have faked the moon landings, and your subsequent $5 booklet on the same asinine topic? What does your $5 book on El NiƱo and volcanoes have to do with HAM radio? Where does HAM radio play into this load of BS? I found that this indeed was not an editorial, but rather a long-winded infomercial in print form.
I read it through in case there was a grander scheme that you might be leading as to how some or all of the aforementioned topics related to HAM radio, but I could not find any. Would someone pick up a copy of an outdoors magazine to find out how to attract aliens from faraway worlds? Would someone read a computer magazine to find out how to clean a gun? I think not, and just as well I would not expect to pick up a HAM radio magazine to read how I could feel better drinking ozone-ated water.
This was not journalism, but rather cheap self-promotion and shameless selling out. I cannot believe I wasted my $4 on this "magazine". You can bet it will not happen again.
Gregory S. Williams
Now granted, I was a tad coarse in my delivery, but I was honestly pissed off. I didn't regret writing it. I wondered if it would appear in a future edition of his magazine (I never found out). Yes I did capitalize HAM back then, only because I believed the story of "station HAM" which looks to be an urban legend. And yes, those topics were all covered in the editorial.

His reply was September 13. It was a Sunday, so I suspect I received it the following Tuesday or Wednesday. Just the letterhead of his reply was practically a letter in and of itself.

Here now, is his reply:
Dr. Wayne Green W2NSD/1, Ph.D., Editor-Publisher
Assoc. Professor of Energy, Institute of Basic Research
And a bunch of other even more impressive credentials which my legendary modesty prohibits me from listing
Gregory .........
My editorials must be an acquired taste. I've been writing long editorials like that about anything I have found interesting for 47 years so far - and in all of the 25 successful magazines I've published. Clearly, I've failed to get you to think, which I regret.
Oh, we tried not running my editorials in 73 for a while - and watched in horror as the circulation dropped in half. The reader feedback cards almost invariably rate my editorials as the best part of the magazine. Are they all out of step, or you? You do come across as a negative person - which, if true, ell substantially shorten your life, plus make life a lot less fun for those around you. You didn't say what business you are in, but I recommend you don't get into publishing.
With amateur radio rapidly dying as a hobby I'm hoping to at least keep what hams we have alive for 30-60 years more than they would if they continued to live as they have. I'm also doing my best to show them how they can make all the money they want by getting off the treadmill.
Most hams seem to have an interest in new ideas, though there are, of course, some who are monomaniacal. QST probably fits their mind-set better.
Oh yes, if you were actually interested in news ideas, what magazine would you buy to find them? Since John Campbell, W2ZGU, the editor of Analog died (he smoked), I don't know of any other than 73 and Nexus (an Australian magazine).
And there you have it. I never got an answer to any of the questions I asked, but instead got a dressing down for being so "close-minded". If I was so negative, who was the one claiming ham radio was a "dying hobby"?

Maybe he should have taken my correspondence a bit more seriously, for 73 abruptly ceased publication 5 years later in October of 2003.

One would think that someone with all those credentials too numerous to mention would have a little money stashed for those times when his multitudes of subscribers and fans don't pay for their subscriptions...

I don't have a problem with his opinions, but his method of ramming those opinions down our throat and taking $4 in the process left a lot to be desired.

Happy Anniversary, Wayne. 73 for now.