DR PHIL: This week, we'll have some ham radio operators on the show, who are apparently obsessed with their hobby. Their family, friends, and jobs take a back seat to their obsession with this hobby. Our first guest is Danny. So Danny, how are you today?
DANNY: Dr Phil, I'm depressed. Turning things off, 3rd time in 24 hours we have had thunderstorms coming thru. I was out taking down the 6 meter quagi, to repair a quad arm, and put it on a retractable fiberglass pole that can be easily rotated from the ground. Its on the ground and unhooked, and here she comes outta here. ar ee beep beep etc.
DR. PHIL: Uhmmm... You're depressed? Why are you depressed?
DANNY: It's like I said Dr. Phil, I'm tired of all these storms coming through. Just let something come up on my ham radio that I need, and a storm will pop up every time. I can't stay on the computer without a storm coming up. I gotta unplug everything to prevent damage to my equipment. And let me tell you, I've had damage before. I'm tired of all these storms. I'm tired of 'em, I'm tired of 'em, I'm tired of 'em. If I could write music, I would write a song about the blues and how tired I am of all these (bleep bleep) storms.
DR. PHIL: [Pauses, cocks his head sideways, and looks at Danny funny for a moment] OKaayyy, you're tired of the storms. Did you not say a few years back that Virginia was suffering from draught? Danny, the world is an orderly place. Not every year has perfect weather. Some years we don't get enough rain, some years we get too much, but it all comes out in the wash. No pun intended... [Laughter from the audience] And what in the world is it with you ham radio operators? You guys seem to center your whole lives around setting in front of a box with knobs and meters. You'll stay up all night trying to talk to some island out in the middle of the ocean that's uninhabitable for humans, and most people don't even know exists.
DANNY: But Dr. Phil, I know we need rain. It's just that storms come up right when it's most inconvenient for me. And they just keep coming, one after the other. As for those little islands, they are very important to us DXers.
DR PHIL: The forces of nature don't cater to any of us. DXers? What are DXers? And why are you hams so obsessed with radio and islands?
DANNY: DXers are hams that communicate to the far corners of the earth. We eat, sleep, and dream of DX. It's the center of our universe.
DR PHIL: Danny, this is really, really, sad. And you aren't alone. I also have on the show a ham from Georgia, two from Kansas, one from California, and another one from Australia. I've talked to them, and their situations are also sad. At least the one from California sees a bit more to life than ham radio. He dresses up funny and chases meaty bees, or yellow jackets as we called them in Texas. And unlike ham stations, you'll get a sure, quick, and electrifying response from those rascals. [Laughter from the audience]
I have a plan for you guys. I'm not sending you to a rehab center. Instead, I'm sending all of you to an uninhabited island in the Pacific. You love islands so much, this should be right up your alley. We've had nice huts set up for you to live in. The fishing is good, but we'll deliver food and drinking water every day. We'll also deliver beer on ice. For each of you, there will be three beautiful women sent in. You will have the good life. Well, it will be good all except for what you value most. You will not have ham radio or computers. If you did they wouldn't work, because you will have no electricity. You will stay on the island for a year. It is very hot and humid there, and it rains almost every day. You will learn to appreciate the rain, because without air conditioning, it's all you will have to cool things off.
We'll break now for a commercial. When we come back, we'll hear from a guy who married his goat.
BOB: Dr. Phil, I had to let the Glorioso Island DXpedition know that 'NA' is not a single place. Zone 3--the West Coast--has entirely different propagation than Zones 4 and 5. And to work them at most times requires taking a polar path, where signals from m Zone 3 have a difficult time competing with EU or Japan or the US/Canada East Coast.
And to please try to work the West Coast at our sunrise (1300-1500 UTC) and sunset (0200-0400 UTC). Signals from Reunion Island can be quite loud at our sunrise. The TO4E Europa expedition was also very loud during our mornings on 30 and 40 meters.
It will be a real shame if--with all the enthusiasm and with our DX club support--we West Coast operators can't work them.
DR. PHIL: First of all Bob, for the life of me, I can't understand why ham radio operators are so obsessed with working some island in the middle of the ocean that most people have never heard of. Just yesterday, we had Danny in here with the same obsession. OK, when did this "expedition" start, and when does it end?
BOB: Well, Dr. Phil, it started on Sep 15 and ends on Oct 8.
DR. PHIL: OK, this is Sep 19, so your "expedition" has been underway four days, and it will continue until Oct 8, which is nineteen days away. You said it all when the first words out of your mouth were, "I know it's early in the expedition." Before the show, I consulted with some experts on radio propagation. They advised me that the earth is divided into hundreds of areas where propagation differs at any given time. So since it is so early on in this "expedition," what makes you think your area of California is more special than other areas of the world?
BOB: Like I said, my DX club helped fund this expedition. So that should be taken into consideration when these guys call CQ.
DR. PHIL: Oh, I get it. It's all about money. That means if I get a ham license, get on the air, and send the next expedition $100,000, then I should get first crack at working them.
BOB: I didn't say that Dr. Phil.
DR. PHIL: Well, that's what it sounded like to me. Now tell me this. Why did you fly in here today to be on my show, when this expedition is on the air. Aren't you missing a chance of working them if they are calling your area as we speak?
BOB: Yeah, I know Dr. Phil. I do lots of other things when expeditions are on the air. It's just I think they should be there for me when I sit down at the radio.
DR. PHIL: Yeah, I know. Me, Me, Me. This is the ME generation. Get out of here. Here's your plane ticket for the next flight to California. We'll break for a commercial and hear from another obsessed ham, Robert from Ontario, when we return.
ROBERT FROM ONTARIO: Dr. Phil, I sent the Glorioso Island DXpedition two messages in their guest book. The first was to teach them how to operate. I let them know that the operation needs some sort of control. A set frequency plus or minus qrm,a daily schedule for operating times. The amount of bandwidth for spread is totally ridiculous. There could be times set aside for zones for NA/SA propagation appears to be best around 18:00 UTC to 23:00 UTC plus.EU, Asia, Middle East can make almost all of the time. I see stations getting frustrated at the pace thus qrming on the operators frequency. It is up to both the DXepedition operator and those trying to work it to show some self control. Stupid, ignorant comments, deliberate jamming, swearing, not listening are ruining what very slim chance many us have to work the expedition. Even if you make contact there's no guarantee after hours of work you'll get in the log. We all have to work harder to make the DXpedition a success. Step one sensible listening spread! The second message was in response to not appearing in their long after working them.
DR. PHIL: Robert, I had already read the note you sent to the "DXpedition," as you call it. I also read the note you sent complaining about not appearing in their radio log.
ROBERT: That's right Dr. Phil, I called for four hours and three minutes, they acknowledged my call sign, and I still didn't appear in the log.
DR. PHIL: Robert, I also spoke to the Chief of Police for the Cluster and Amateur Radio bands. He advised me that you were constantly calling on the wrong frequency when the "DXpedition" was working split, or listening on a different frequency. And here you are giving the guys on the "DXpedition" advise on how to operate?
ROBERT: That's right Dr. Phil. He got on my case about that and I got my act together. I'm just glad I got off with a warning. But someone needs to tell those guys how to operate. I figured since I just got a tongue wagging from the Chief of Police, I had fresh knowledge of how things are suppose to be done.
DR. PHIL: I'll remember that if I get a speeding ticket. I'll stand on the side of road with a sign telling everyone to slow down. Besides, I'm the one who knows better. [Laughter from the audience] OK, now you say you worked them on Sep 17, at 2303 GMT? (For those of you who don't know, hams log their contacts in Greenwich Mean Time)
ROBERT: That's correct Dr. Phil.
DR. PHIL: OK, I went on the internet and looked at their logs this morning. It very plainly states that their last log entry was on Sep 17, at 0204 GMT. So if you worked them twenty one hours after they updated their logs, so how in the world do you expect your contact to show in their logs?
ROBERT: Duh... I didn't think about that Dr. Phil.
DR. PHIL: Here's your plane ticket. Get out of here and go back to Canada. I've had it with all you hams who have nothing better to do than whine when you don't get your way anytime you want it. We'll break for another commercial and come back with something more sensible than ham radio operators. We have a guy on who sleeps with his pig. And I'm talking about the barnyard type.
DR. PHIL: OH NO... Not another ham radio operator. I specifically told my producers not to bring any more of you guys on the show this week. I'll deal with them later. But since you are here, I'll try to help. So Steven, what is your problem?
STEVEN FROM CALIFORNIA; Dr. Phil, people don't appreciate me. I put cluster spots on the internet to help them out. Rather than
show their appreciation, they say bad things about me.
DR. PHIL: (With a puzzled look on his face) Hmmmmm... I've heard of a cluster ...., well you know, oh never mind, I can't say that on the air. But what in blazes is a cluster spot?
STEVEN: Well, Dr. Phil, cluster spots are something ham radio operators place on the internet to let other hams know what stations are on the air, and what frequency they are on.
DR. PHIL: Now exactly what are you putting on these cluster spots that are ticking people off?
STEVEN: I don't know Dr. Phil. I try to help people out. If a station is calling for Europe, I'll put it on the cluster so people in the states will know. If I work a station, I put it on the cluster.
DR. PHIL: OK Steven, I just had an email handed to me that came from my nephew, who is a ham radio operator. He says you are a cluster cop, you put your log book on the cluster, and that you use the cluster to make radio contacts. He says, in other words, that you use the cluster to get the other station's attention if you can't contact them over the air. And that you use the cluster to fill in information, such as your call sign, if the other station didn't get it over the air. OH MY GAWD! The second page, and all the other pages have every spot
you sent in 2009. What in the world were you doing? There's more spots here than Carter has liver pills.
STEVEN: Dr Phil, I put spots on the cluster to announce all my contacts, because I'm proud of them. I don't believe I'm a cluster cop, I just want to make sure the US is not transmitting when the DX calls for Europe. I try to call the DX stations with my radio. But there's thousands of other stations calling at the same time. Sometimes, I need the cluster to get the DX station's attention. And it's bad not to get in the log, so I sometimes put information on the cluster to make sure the DX got my call
DR. PHIL: [Leans back and takes a deep breath] Now Steven, first of all, what information do you get from DX stations alerting you that they are working Europe?
STEVEN: Well, they say so on the air.
DR. PHIL: So if you get it on the air, doesn't every other station that's listening to them?
STEVEN: Well, yes they do Dr. Phil. But they don't pay attention, so I put it on the cluster.
DR. PHIL: (Almost laughing) So in other words, other stations don't pay attention to the DX operators instructions, but they will if you spot it on the cluster. Hmmm... I'm now starting to get the picture. And why do you spot everything you work just to let the whole world know you worked it? When you add in the remarks section that you worked them, or simply say "tu or tnx," that's only to let the whole world know about your "great achievement." Sure, it's OK to thank them for a contact, but that is better said over the air. Besides, I'll bet you most of those guys you are supposedly thanking on the cluster will never see it. And I'll also bet you don't really care, because it's the rest of the world you're trying to impress.
STEVEN: It's like I said Dr. Phil, I'm proud of my contacts.
DR. PHIL: Steven, read my lips. No one cares what you work. I don't care, the man sitting next to you doesn't care, no one in the audience cares, and no other ham radio operator cares. [Pause] Who is the lady raising her hand you are pointing to in the audience?
STEVEN: She's my mother, and she cares what I work.
DR. Phil: Oh well, maybe your mother, but no one else... Wait a minute, what did you say ma'am? You don't care either? So there you have it Steven, your own mother doesn't care. What you do on the radio is a personal achievement, and no one else cares. Now here you are using the internet as a crutch to work something that is suppose to be a radio contact. Isn't that cheating? Think about it this way. When I played college football in Oklahoma, I was a middle linebacker. What if the opposing halfback had the ball, and I had my sights on him about to make a tackle. Suddenly a helicopter came over the field, threw down a life line, lifted him over me, and he scored a touchdown.
STEVEN: That wouldn't work. Flags would be going up, the referees would be jumping up and down making all kinds of waving motions, and it wouldn't count.
DR. PHIL: Thank you. Now you get the point and acknowledge that cheating is not fair and shouldn't count. We have referees to keep everything legal on the field, but you guys are on your own. What you are doing on the air is only a personal accomplishment. Personally, I wouldn't get any satisfaction out of radio if I had to depend on the internet to get a foreign station's attention or to give them information that should have been sent over the air. But whatever floats your boat. If you broadcast everything you do on the cluster, you're bound to get the world's attention. So don't come crying to me if you get flak from those who read the cluster.
STEVEN: You're just like the rest of them Dr. Phil, you're against me. What I'm doing is right and those who don't agree are wrong.
DR. PHIL: OK Steven, have a safe trip back to California. I was about to make arrangements for some therapy near your town in California, but you won't be needing any. That would be like sending a blind man to an optometrist.
When we come back, we'll meet George. Did you think it was weird when you saw the guy who married his goat, or the guy who sleeps with his pig? Well, wait until you meet George, who is also from California. George's sexual fantasy is to make love to Nancy Pelosi.
DR PHIL: I'm sorry, but George chose not to appear on the show. He just told us he was too embarrassed to sit on this stage and admit he fantasizes about Nancy Polosi. Oh well, can't say I blame him. [Audience roars] Anyway, there will be no more ham radio operators on the show this week. In closing, I'm pleased to announce that Dr. Mike Zooloo, my esteemed colleague in Topeka, specializes in ham radio operator disorders, especially those relevant to cluster usage. If anyone needs his contact information, go to DrPhil.com. In an email to me, he put special emphasis on cluster bragging. He said the medical term for this is Narcisstemic Clusteritis Bingosis or NCB. He went on to say that after posting something on the cluster and you find your erection won't go down after 4 hours, stop using the cluster and consult a doctor. Other symptoms may include incessant need to post more on the cluster which can lead to an addiction, excited voice, constipation, and tingling in the fingers prohibiting radio tuning. If you or someone you know has exhibited any of these signs, they should seek his help immediately. So I would advise anyone with NCB to contact Dr. Zooloo immediately.