The Sacred Shack Steward Election Speech
(Yes, hams are a weird bunch of people)

Here's my acceptance speech from when I became Shack Steward of the Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club (W4AQL) in November 1993. Hope you enjoy it! :-)


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for cleanliness in the history of our radio club.

Fivescore days ago, A great Amateur, in whose symbolic skip zone we stand today, signed the Pizza-Hut Rule. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of food to millions of Ham Operators who had been seared in the flames of FCC justice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of non-propriety.

But one hundred days later, the Ham is still not free, one hundred days later, the life of the Ham is still sadly crippled by the manacles of clutter and the chains of tangled coax; one hundred days later, the Ham lives in a lonely shack of empty pizza boxes in the midst of a vast ocean of QSL cards; one hundred days later, the Ham is still languished in the corners of Amateur society and finds himself in exile in his own shack.

So we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we've come to our club's shack to clean a wreck. When the architects of the FCC wrote the magnificent words of Part 97 and the Declaration of Pizza ordering, they were signing a promissory note to which every club member was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all Hams, yes, Codeless Technicians as well as Extras, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of radio, food, and the pursuit of a clean shack.

It is obvious today that W4AQL has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as its members are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, W4AQL has given its Hams a bad mess; a mess which has come back in increasing severity. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient hands in the great vaults of opportunity of this club. And so we've come to clean this shack, a shack that will give us upon demand the riches of radio and the freedom from garbage.

We also have come to this hallowed spot to remind W4AQL of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of slacking off or to take the tranquilizing drug of procrastination. Now is the time to make real the promises of QSL cards; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of QRM to the sunlit path of tropo ducting; now is the time to lift our antennas from the quicksands of nonresonance to the solid rock of yagis; now is the time to make Field day a reality for all God's children. It would be fatal for the club to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering hellhole of the Ham's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of cleanup and good signal quality.

Nineteen ninety-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the repeater needed to blow off steam and will now transmit, will have a rude awakening if the club returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in the shack until the operators clean it up right. The whirlwinds of recycling will continue to shake the foundations of our club until the bright sparkle of the Kenwood emerges.

But there is something which I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of RF. In the process of working our DX we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

Let us seek to satisfy our thirst for QSOs by drinking from the cup of multipliers and high power. We must forever conduct our struggle on the ground plane of propagation and sunspots. We must not allow our creative circuits to degenerate into physical impossibilities. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting QRM with the notch filter.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Amateur community must not lead to a distrust of all Codeless Technicians, for many of our Codeless brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their privileges are inextricably bound to our privileges. This offense we share mounted to storm the battlements of CBers must be carried forth by an FCC-tested army. We cannot QSO alone.

And as we QSO, we must make the pledge that we shall always plan ahead. We cannot reflect power back. There are those who are asking the devotees of CW, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Ham is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of key clicks.

We can never be satisfied as long as our fingers, heavy with the fatigue of tuning, cannot gain contact with the far and distant cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Amateur's basic mobility is from a small repeater to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our amplifiers are stripped of their power and robbed of their usefulness by salesmen saying "that tube is no longer produced." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Ham in Mississippi cannot get a reply to his QSL and a Ham in New York believes he has nothing to reply to. No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until sunspots roll down like waters and propagation like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of excessive RF radiation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow radio shelves. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for DX has left you deaf from the screech of QRM and splattered by the whims of overdeviation. You have been the victims of creative transmitting. Continue to work 'em with the faith that unheard multipliers are elusive.

Go back to W4AQL; go back to the car; go back to Georgia Tech; go back to the shacks and antennas of the northern perimeter, knowing that somehow this situation can, and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of radio disrepair.

So I say to you, my friends, that even though we must face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Amateur's dream that one day this club will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed -- that we hold these operators to be self-cleaning, that all messes are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia Tech, sons of former hams and sons of former Techies will be able to sit down together at a clean table of Kenwoods.

I have a dream that one day, even the club shack, a shack bulging with the trash of contests, bursting with the junk of donations, will be transformed into an oasis of cleanliness and comfort.

I have a dream that our four big antennas will one day stand above a station where they will not be judged by the number of elements but by the content of the logbooks. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Athens, with its vicious ringworm, with its graduates having their lips dripping with the words of illegal transmissions and CB operations, that one day, right there at UGA, little red-and-black girls and red-and-black boys will join hands with little gold-and-white boys and gold-and-white girls, and get the living crap beat out of them. Go Jackets.. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, every yagi shall be exalted, every tower and mag-mount shall be made high, the rough signals shall be made plain, and the lids shall be made straight and the glory of the QSO will be revealed and all flesh shall hear it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the shack with.

With this faith we will be able to hear out of the receiver and prepare for a season of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the tangled cords of our station into a beautiful assembly of power supplies.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to tune together, to scribble together, to go to field day together, to stand up against jammers together, knowing that we will be clean someday. This will be the day when all of W4AQL's members will be able to sing with new meaning -- "my station 'tis of thee; sweet shack of liberty; of thee I sing; land where my headsets died, land of the sweepstake's pride; from every mountainside, let our rigs ring" -- and if W4AQL is to be a great station, this must become true.

So let W4AQL ring to the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let W4AQL ring to the mighty dipoles of New York.
Let W4AQL ring to the heightening quads of Pennsylvania.
Let W4AQL ring to the snow-capped yagis in Colorado.
Let W4AQL ring to the repeater-filled slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let W4AQL ring to Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let W4AQL ring to Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let W4AQL ring to every hill and molehill of Australia, from every mountainside, let W4AQL ring.

And when we get W4AQL clean, when we get it clean in every nook and cranny, in every file and cabinet, we will be able to speed up that day when all of the FCC's children -- Extras and Novice, students and faculty, coded and non-coded -- will be able to have QSOs and speak in the words of the old Ham spiritual, "Clean at last, clean at last; thank God Almighty, we are clean at last."


Written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ripped off by Mike "Gator" Whaley KD4UGI
for the Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club W4AQL
November 25, 1993

©1994 Michael Whaley. All rights reserved. May be reprinted for NON-profit purposes provided it remains intact and properly credited. Other purposes permitted by written permission from the author.

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