Ragchewers quit without saying anything.

Cliff K6KII has been an avid DXer as well as a ragchewer for decades. When I came back on the air in 1980 after 10 years absence, he was one of the very few hams who had been active on the radio. I respected him for his activity and his beautiful fist on CW. The most of my friends had gone QRT or SK by then. Or some of them have changed their calls with the vanity call system in the US. Cliff has moved to Colorado early this year and has not been heard from either on the air or even by e mail.

Several weeks ago, I heard from Jim W6YA about why he won't come back on the radio. He seemed to enjoy outdoor activity there so much that he won't have time for radio. The other reason was that he was disappointed at too much prevalence of 599 QSL style QSOs in radio. I was surprised to hear that at first. He could have been looked on as a real DX chaser. Possibly, he has done everything in DXing. However, it was surprising for me to know how important it had been for him to have enjoyable conversational QSOs. In a few seconds, I fully understood of Cliff.

I often call CQ for ordinary QSO on 40m through 15m. As I have been telling in this blog or the other sites, I seldom get call. Much less often than 10 years ago. Only once in 10 times or less in my impression. I sometimes feel bored with calling CQ because of such few calls to me. Even if I get a call, there is only 30 or 40% of probability that I could enjoy conversation. It is becoming even less than a few years ago. Most of callers would exchange reports and the other routine informations. And then they say good by to me.

Yes, I know I have been repeating the same kind of complaint in this blog or elsewhere. I believe we should consider what is making that trend of shorties on the air. ot there will be more Cliffs on the air. They would quit radio without saying anything to us. It seems to me there is a vicious cycle that the shorties are replacing the oridinary ones.

I wonder how John 9V1VV has been doing. Another big ragchewer I haven't heard of for some time.   


  1. But sometimes we get unexpected surprises. I'm starting to get more active now that the insides of my (storm damaged) station are coming back together again. Called CQ on 40 meters a day or two ago and got a nice strong answer from W6QR. That's an OT call, but I didn't remember working him. He was sending as a moderate 20 WPM, very steady and nice, and so I maintained my 32 WPM speed. Immediately it was clear he was a good CW man, and we both are in the "over 50 years on the air" club, if there is such a thing. We chatted about life and "stuff" for over a half hour, and it reinvigorated my faith in CW activity. Shin, I'll be looking for you, and calling some CQs myself.

    However on a less satisfying basis, I was in my mobile Saturday morning and noted that 40 meters was jammed with the AA contest and one of the innumerable W1AW portables running guys from a Virginia location. Those two things drove me away from 40 and up to 30 meters where I listened to WB6BEE and a friend cruising along with bugs and chattering like two real OTs. After a stop at a Starbucks, I listened and the frequency was clear. Apparently they had QRTed. So on an impulse, I called Don (BEE) blind and was pleased when he called me after a bit. He had been out of the shack and came back in and was perplexed to hear his call sign coming from the earphones on the desk! Cool! We had nice S9 contact on way home. That was a nice way to end my little trip for some errands.

    1. I am glad to know you are coming back on the air now. i admire your guts coming back on the air after such a disatrous event. Bill W6QR is a good friend of mine and is a frequent visitor to this blog. He may leave words to you here later. Don WB6BEE is a guy who seems to have skipped from 1960s to present days. He has been active and positive toward the future of CW. Oh, bot of you have already met in W5 FOC gathering. Together with his delicate and courteous characteristics, he is a vintage ham since '60s hi. Very few such a ham nowadays.

      However, I still feel there are many leaving conversational CW world now. I could boast that there won't be any other hams so active as me for the past 34 years. From my experience since 1980, I am sure the activity is declining. Partly beacause of the contesting and the pile up games. No use complaining of that anyway.

      See you soon. Take care of yourself and of Diana.

    2. Thanks for the compliment Jim, I enjoyed our QSO. On a good day I can get my fist over 25wpm but I'm not as fast on the paddles as I was 10 years ago. CW rag chewing is my hobby. I was happy to hear that I missed the contest racket this weekend, we were visiting our grandkids :-)

      Bill, W6QR

  2. Shin,
    I read this post just this morning after an absence and I have noticed this, even in my very brief life as an amateur. I'm frequently surprised when just a casual CQ will only bring up short 5NN Q's from people. I would expect working another W0 wouldn't be so exciting unless we chatted about a bit more! I can only imagine what any real DX feels like trying to drum up a ragchew when all most people want is a report and a QSL.

    Pardon my rude call earlier on 15M. I happened to see that you were QRV and spun the knob just in time to hear you send NUT, so I had incorrectly assumed that you had finished calling a lonely CQ and had just QRT'd after not receiving any response!

    My intention was to ragchew with you on this very topic! You have inspired me to try harder QRV and ragchew more!


    Joe KC0VKN

    1. Joe,

      You are heading to the right direction. I hope you to carry on your attitude toward ham radio. I am sure you will be a good advocate of real ham radio from now since you are still young.

      I have missed you this morning in our time. Give me a call again. I am pretty active on 15m in our morning hours around 23Z. Looking forward to yakking with you soon.


  3. Hi Shin
    I am catching up with your blog after coming home a few days ago. It seems Autumn is in full swing. I do hope the bad weather does not cause any damage.

    I have spent two evenings on the radio since I came back. I had three very brief chats with some VK, ZL and one G4 . I tend not to call CQ anymore now because 9V is always spotted on the clusters and I am expected to send 599 TU all night, which I do not enjoy. When spotted I generally work a few and go QRT.

    Most of what I hear on the radio now are contesters and DX-ers, but part of that is because of location. If I lived in the States or Europe it would be easier to find a good rag chew.

    I had lunch with James 9V1YC a couple of months ago and he mentioned that Cliff has gone QRT for good. Nobody knows why. But I suspect he may have become bored with the way CW exchanges are conducted these days. In any case I hope he will come back.

    I hear T30D working a pileup on 40m now, very strong, but I don’t think he would want to ragchew. It’s been a few hours of 599 for him. For us it seems an odd existence but each to his own. Last weekend was 599 and a number followed by TU. Some contest or other. The WARC bands were very quiet.

    It is easy to get depressed. The best thing is to walk away as I do and get into something else for a while. I am still struggling with Gardiner’s book. I have had it 4 weeks now but I can’t absorb more than ten pages at a time. His analysis seems aimed at professional conductors and singers rather than the simple layman like me !

    See you on the air soon

    1. John,

      Welcome back home! Knowing that you should be back home by now, I wondered how you had been doing.

      I fully understand that you have been annoyed by piles of callers to you once you called CQ. DK2SC, when he was in 9X land, used to make discipline to those breaking in his ragchewing. You might not want to be involved with those ettiquette less callers.

      I have been calling CQ just below that T30D for a while. Again, no callers to me. This paucity or raqrity of ordinary QSOs might be related with DXing and contesting, I believe. They pursue only such a thrill they could have in those competitions, or exactly, rat races. Coversational QSOs are ignored. More and more are losing will and capability to converse on CW. Newbies are not able to do the ordinary QSO. Oh, that is enough. I would try not to be too pessimistic for this. Let it go. It would go as it does. No room for me to do with this issue.

      I have given up that Gardiner's book at present. Carmel Impresarios by D.J Gordon, describing the history of Carmel Bach Festival, is the book I am going on reading every evening. A bit easier for me to read. And intersting as well. A good friend of mine, Bob W6CYX, a repeating attendee to the festival, recommended me to read it. After finishing this, I would challenge Gardiner later. Dave, K6XG, told me to read it, referring to the source of the music whevener certain piece is discussed in the book. I agree Gardiner has thought of some professional musician for the reader.

      Recently, I knew Piazzolla has been taught composition by Boulanger in Paris when he was young. He has got an important suggestion to compose music with his own background of Tango. Piazzolla has been my favorite these days. Oh, he is long after the age of Bach...

      See you soon. I am looking forward anothe enjoyable chat. Take good rest at home, even though you might work ashore again.


    2. PS;I mentioned of Boulanger because I knew from his book that Gardiner used to learn composition from here as well.

      What a messy sentences! It is the time for me to hit the sack!

    3. Hello OM Shin,

      It was really good to hear you on today. It's been a while since I've had a good ragchew and that is what we had. I looked on QRZ and found the link to your blog and see this topic and how timely.

      I had to take a hiatus from the radio back between 95 and 02, I would get on with QRP intermittently between 02 & 05 but my on the air hamming took that long break and when I got back on, I found the 599 73 QSO was the more common experience. Being a DXer I always like the DX but now-a-days DX means there is a pileup waiting to be unleashed as soon as a contact is completed. I see it like grains of sand at the isthmus of an hour glass, each having to wait for the longest time and then the momentary rush and its over. Not my idea of fun but it appeals to many.

      I remember when I first got my license, 40M was the band to go to and you had the battle of the broadcast stations and the (then to me) high speed CW ops who would not slow down to a novice's speed. Still, 40M was a great ragchew band and my favorite for that purpose.

      It was genuinely good to chat with you today. My location is not good any more and it is full of QRM from many sources but mostly from the electrical arcing and switching systems less than 100 feet from my antenna, the noise level makes it difficult at times to hold a ragchew and tonight was unfortunately one of those.

      And to that, our first QSO was Feb 14, 1987 on 40M and we exchanged QSL cards. I believe I was in Louisiana at the time. It was my pleasure then and it is my pleasure today to QSO with you. I look forward to many more.

      73 Shin San,

      Gary KA1J

    4. Gary,

      It was a pleasure for me to meet you after some interval. I am sorry the condition was dropping in some time and the noise at your QTH has prevented us from enjoying ragchewing longer. I hope to catchi you again soon.

      Have you returned there to care for your parents? The photo in QRZ.com looks so nice. Both you and your father look very happy. It has made me touched to hear that. I used to live with my parents here. Both of them have gone away now. I often recall them thinking I should have done more for them.

      Your observation is right that much less are enjoying ragchewing. Now contest style QSOs are prevailing. No use complaining of this. All we could do is just to enjoy it as we have done. Some people may know how pleasant it is to have ragchews and may follow us.

      See you soon.