If you had a magic wand

What would you like to see in your national amateur radio organization?

That’s a question being kicked around the RAC executive thanks to an initiative by John, HK3OZ, a former RAC director and VP of PR currently living in Colombia (thanks John for the correction). So how would you improve (notice I didn’t say fix!) your national organization? How would your RAC look in let’s say 2015?

Here’s a few of my thoughts to get the conversation started:

  • There have been some complaints about RAC being an “old boys” club. That impression isn’t incorrect. RAC is run by seven regional directors who are the only people who can vote on issues that come up at the board level. When I look at the photos of the board that appear in The Canadian Amateur on page 4 they all look like elder statesmen to me….okay so some of them are younger than I am but you get my point. The other 11 folks on page 4 are on the RAC executive and cast no vote. Only one is a woman and there are no visible minorities. Surely there are some licensed amateurs who don’t fit the profile? So would I change this? You bet. How should it change? I don’t know! So let’s move on to point two;
  • Anytime there’s a perception of an “old boys”club part of that perception has to come from fact that some people are in the club and most are outside of it. So how can we bring everybody to the table? I believe that it’s blogs like this one and others written by RAC members that can be part of the solution. There is no great mystery here nor an conspiracy. RAC is a national organization run by volunteers from across Canada. It’s a miracle that we exist at all :) let alone work so well together;
  • Now one of the other complaints I’ve heard is RAC is too secretive.  I don’t disagree however it’s not secrecy that’s the issue but our collective inability to find a means to create a national discussion. Heck we have problems getting everyone connected on a national teleconference (last night was nightmare. Thank goodness for cellphones and Skype.) once a month. But how about this: We create a national President’s Council that meets by teleconference or email reflector directly with RAC’s president every 90 or 180 days. Maybe the discussion takes place on a Saturday morning and goes for a couple of hours? It’s a thought. Anybody interested?
  • What else can we do? We can easily grow our membership. It might even be possible that someday every Canadian ham was automatically enrolled as a member of RAC. This idea is going to take some work. To that end, I’d suggest we should have a vice-president of membership. We don’t have one and I can’t for the life of me think of why not!
  • Speaking of membership we need to work with Industry Canada to clean up the list of licensed amateur radio operators. Estimates suggest the current list has 60,000 names on it but we know that some hams hold two or more licenses. My guess is the actual number is much,much lower and that RAC with 5,000 current members is capturing at least half of the active amateur radio community;
  • RAC has some administrative issues to address but these are small potato issues and just require some time and effort to fix and I’m not going to worry about them here;
  • What’s of greater need is more volunteer assistant directors in every province. I don’t think there’s a limit to the number of assistant directors and in places like southern Ontario and all of Quebec we need many more assistant directors to help grow our national organization. Contact your regional director to volunteer.

There’s a ton of other wonderful stuff we should be talking about. The Youth Educational Program comes to mind. All of us need to be involved in encouraging young people to get their amateur radio tickets. The experience of the ARRL shows it can be done and just wait until Amateur Radio is actively promoted in China when the world amateur radio population will take a great leap forward. ARES and the NTS are legacy programs of great value that don’t get enough attention. We (and I’m talking about you and me here) could do more to promote DXing and contesting and satellite operation and the list goes on. What’s need most to make this dream come true is people just like you to come forward and volunteer some your time, talent and maybe even your treasure (there are ways to financially support RAC and our national programs).

RAC would certainly benefit from a national public relations initiative headed locally (all news is local) by the assistant directors. To that end I’ve added a new page that includes a complete public information officers’ kit. If you’d like a pretty version I can send you a PDF. Just email me at ve3hg@rac.ca

4 Responses to “If you had a magic wand”

  • There’s also a lot of Silent Keys listed on the Callsign Database.

  • Okay, here are a couple items to consider for improvements. Now don’t shoot me for this…..

    I would like to see an improvement in the membership database. My wife and I are both members, under the family category. That is, two memberships and one magazine for $75. A good deal. The problem is, the database shows me as a member, but my wife is not a member. I can’t tell you how upset she was to find this out. You know what they say about a woman’s scorn. Don’t go there.

    Another related item; wouldn’t it be nice to have a membership card issued to you? Just a small piece of cardboard to carry in your wallet (or purse for the ladies). I know, mailing costs are high, but still…….wouldn’t it be nice?

  • The President’s Council is a good idea. It ought to include persons who are or will be RAC clientele.

    An analogy is the advisory panel that we used at a university where I taught. The panel’s members were extracted from the enterprises that hired our students. The panel’s input guided, not determined, what we taught and how many students were admitted to each programme. It worked: over 95% of our students found employment.

  • One of the key missing pieces in Canada/RAC is an equivalent to the ARRL Divisional system, the administrative structure with its separate but inter-related Regional Director and Section Manager councils that connect the “grass roots” to the national structure. Without this structure too much is left to too few at the top, and surprise, surprise they are overwhelmed. Our club discussed this at length and proposed a sub-regional council system to our Director. That proposal remains valid today and can be found at:

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