RSGB & RAC

If you want to know what the issues are at the heart of the problems at Radio Amateurs of Canada then all you have to do is listen to this podcast interview with RSGB President Dave Wilson, M0OBW.

I’ll warn you now: This is an hour and half long podcast.

Produced by the Southgate Amateur Radio News the podcast started off with Dave reading a statement he insisted on having included before the podcast interview.

(For background: The current RSGB controversy came to a head with the Nov. 2011 RSGB RadCom article called “A Stark Choice” which laid out the issues  facing the Society and started a firestorm of critical comments.

An extraordinary general meeting of the RSGB is scheduled to take place on Nov. 15 where a series of recommendations created by a special interim board will be discussed and voted upon by the general membership. There are an estimated 21,000 members of RSGB and they are losing two per cent per year and have been for some time.)

In the statement that Dave read he criticized the podcaster and whined about how he was treated. He nitpicked on phrases and is annoying in his defensiveness. He complained about the way the interview was setup.

Great start Dave. Certainly set a tone!

Then Dave squandered the opportunity to motivate and fire up the membership by launching into more defensiveness comments and says “we’re never going to get it right regardless”.

More damning is Dave’s assessment of the RSGB’s new vision statement (Gee we’re we supposed to have one of these too?) where he concluded and I paraphrase here: it’s all very well and good but there are no resources in people, time or money to realize any of the goals.

As to questions (even I raised them here) about the age of the interim board Dave goes defensive again arguing that the members shouldn’t be concerned.

That’s a nice thought but the reality appears to be that the members are concerned and the issues won’t go away by wishing them away with magic thinking.

RSGB faces insolvency as soon as next year and this has to be scaring the heck out of the membership. Dave sounds like he understands the issue but appears to have no idea how to solve this overarching issue. (For example, the organization’s HQs costs 60,000 pounds annually to maintain.)

He appeals for support by using the threat that if members don’t support the interim board then it’s likely that the RSGB will be a far less effective organization in the future. Hardly a stirring argument and not one designed to win friends and influence people.)

Unfortunately, after the 20-minute statement, it didn’t get any better in the open interview session.

Here’s a short list of issues. See if any of this sounds familiar to our Canadian experience:

  • Reports viewed by the board and rejected were withheld from the membership despite calls for all the information discussed be released to the membership. This decision creates a mystery where none actually existed.
  • The major issue according to Dave surrounds the governance of the RSGB which he says has to change. (Now this sounds like home.)
  • Transparency in communications appears to be a big issue with members but Dave admits he hasn’t a clue about new technologies like Twitter and can’t see what the point is all about. Same for Facebook which he concludes that RSGB should consider. (How do you think young people will hear this admission?)
  • Dave said the society must become more visible but says the board members may need to be dragged into it. (Bet that’s not going to happen.)
  • More damning was the complaint by members that no annual report for 2009 or 2010 were published on the RSGB website. Dave admits they “taken their eye off the ball” and offers the reassurance that there is nothing to be concerned about and it was just an oversight. (Oh dear.)
  •  “There’s got to be more openness,” said Dave who then went on to say that anyone who wanted to participate in the extraordinary annual meeting had to be registered so as to avoid off-topic comments.
  • Dave then points out some members just take and don’t give back. (This isn’t going to help.) And then he whines about being “kicked in the teeth”. (Oh!)
This is just a sample and I can appreciate that many may not have read this far but it’s insightful to realize that the RSGB issues are almost identical to the issues facing RAC.
Real-world issues  facing both organizations likely could be fixed a small working group taking some action (like RAC’s stirling efforts around Bill 118). Both organizations need to attract or recruit new members and both have ignored implementing action plans.
Both organizations seem to have the same problems:
  • Both have failed to engage their membership in meaningful and personal ways
  • Both have solvency issues (and I dare say as a result of the point above)
  • Both have governance models that are based on command-and-control styles
  • Both have tendencies to be secreative
  • Both have failed to implement membership drives
  • Both are baffled about how to recruit young people (Talking about Betamax and VHS video tapes isn’t going to help Dave! And thanks for listing all the reasons why young people can’t find the time to get their tickets.)
  • Neither has created a positive vision for their futures

I noticed that like RAC, the RSGB has closed of communications with its members thus driving comments into the hands of the critics who are blogging, Twittering and offering withering critical comments on Facebook.

This is something the technical thinkers at RAC simply couldn’t grasp and thus they gutted their own blog site rendering it impotent and useless and throwing the burden of commentary into the hands of their critics.

Here’s a link to comments that resulted from the podcast.

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This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Peter West. Bookmark the permalink.

About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

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