Why don’t we have a Spanish-language QSO party?

January 31, 2013 Mike K5MGR

I think that this is an idea whose time has come. What do we need to do to get this started?……Dan

Several days ago I ran the idea of an annual Spanish language QSO party by the PR reflector. An ARRL Spanish language annual QSO party brings many benefits to Amateur Radio, to the League, and to those of us who look for PR opportunities for Amateur Radio.

Let’s look at the benefits!
For the League to reach out by incorporating Spanish would, in my observation —

  • further globalize US Amateur Radio,
  • make US hams more useful and valuable when events like hurricanes, typhoons, and earthquakes hit Spanish speaking areas,
  • demonstrate by action that we are truly an international community of communicators,
  • bring more Spanish speaking DX into US sub-bands, making stations in many countries easier for US Amateurs to talk with,
  • strengthen Amateur Radio in Spanish speaking countries, which gives Amateur Radio better standing at the ITU when frequency allocations are handed out,
  • and be an electronic person-to-person ambassadorship that’s priceless for making friends and building relationships people-to-people, culture-to-culture, and nation-to-nation.

Hispanics are the fastest growing components of our American population.  According to the US census, the U.S. Hispanic population surged 43%, rising to 50.5 million in 2010 from 35.3 million in 2000. Latinos now constitute 16% of the nation’s total population of 308.7 million

A Spanish QSO party would be a great annual PR event, tied in with either cinco de mayo (although that’s an American-adopted Mexican holiday) or tied in with national Hispanic Heritage Month which takes place every year from September 15 to October 15.

My experience in broadcasting shows well that Spanish language TV station intensely serve their core markets – a great PR opportunity for PIO/PIC’s to spread Amateur Radio’s story to a part of our population that is both growing in number and gaining political strength every day. I guarantee great Spanish language and local TV coverage of a Spanish QSO party that also incorporates some field-day-like operation from public spaces (parks, malls, etc.)

The League could publish a handbook of Spanish Amateur Radio phrases that would help us all work Spanish speaking DX.  Exchanges during a Spanish language QSO party could be in Spanish, Spanglish, mixed Spanish and English, or in EnglishMultipliers would be given based on the number – or percent – or whatever – of conversations conducted at least partly in Spanish.

As some of us dust off or begin to practice our beginning Spanish language vocabulary, I expect Spanish speaking foreign stations will begin to spend more time in the US Phone Band Segments of our HF allocations, making them easier for the casual DXer to work!

Particularly for those of us in border states and other states with burgeoning Hispanic populations, an annual Spanish QSO party is the perfect PR, public-serving, new-ham-generating, all-inclusive event promoting the growth of Amateur Radio.

Listen for a few minutes to the Citizen’s Band along our southern border and in many other places.  Many of the truckers’ conversations are now in Spanish.  We’ve benefited by bring a number of CB operators through the years into Amateur Radio’s “Big Tent.”  Let’s keep up the momentum!

If you’ll give it a moment’s thoughts, I’m sure you’ll come up with additional benefits for Amateur Radio, for the League, and for our PIO/PRC participants. I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface. I hope this Spanish language annual QSO party idea will catch hold, and will be a real “plus” for Amateur Radio and for being one more step in making the world of Spanish and English speakers together.

A short bit of personal background
Here in New Mexico, the “border state” where I live  we have two official languages.  You can speak only Spanish and participate in state court proceedings, follow legislative initiatives, vote, read bus schedules, subscribe to city and council notices of meetings and their contents, and choose from several Spanish over-the-air TV channels and many Spanish language radio stations.

Nearly a third of our state’s residents speak Spanish (although perhaps not exclusively) at home.

My QSL card says, on its front, “New Mexico – where the sun shines on three cultures, two official languages, and the greatest scenic beauty in the southwest.”

My first job at age 19 in commercial radio engineering was at a “bilingue” radio station.  Every weekday night, movie tickets and other prizes were given away to listeners who could answer “Preguntas de la noche.”  I usually had no problem knowing the answer – but I had no idea what the question was.  Once a week or so one of the non-English speaking announcers (Jesus Buenrostro) and I would go to lunch, determined to talk with each other.  I learned some Spanish; he learned some English.  We’d end up scribbling on napkins and gesturing to each other, and frequently would attract the attention of folks at nearby lunch tables who spoke Spanish and English – and we’d all end up in roundtable conversation with smiles and grins at each other’s attempts to use a language we were just beginning to learn!

Our daughter, Susan (bear in mind that my wife and I are purely of northern European descent) teaches English as a Second Language to high school students from predominantly Spanish speaking households in Albuquerque’s most centrally downtown located high school in the mornings, and is a certified legal interpreter English/Spanish – Spanish English in the State and Municipal Courts in the afternoons. Not bad for a German-Irish gringa (young white woman)!

Yes, Spanish is an integral part of our community, and of our family’s lives.  And more and more, it’s becoming an integral part of yours!  Language shouldn’t be a barrier between neighbors.  And I hope the League will commit to spearheading a thrust to make Amateur Radio here in the US even more inclusive than it is today!

It would be great if the answer to the question “Can we (hams) talk” would be both a resounding  “Yes!” and ¡Si!

I would love to be part of whatever group forms to spearhead an exchange with Board members of the League and with League headquarters staff to create an annual Spanish language QSO party, with all the improvements that I expect you can and will offer.  It will be a big plus for Amateur Radio!

Let’s carry this message, to all interested parties!  We can make it happen for the good of Amateur Radio!

Siete tres a todos
73, everyone!

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