State Arrl Official Kicks Florida Midday Traffic Net Out Of League

On August 11th, ARRL South Florida Section Communications Manager (SCM) Woodrow "Woody" Huddleston informed Florida Midday Traffic Net (FMTN) Manager Al Suhr WB4AID that FMTN was no longer a part of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

tn his letter, Huddleston gave no other reason for the revocation of the ARRL section of Florida's largest traffic net other than to say that the "FMTN does not qualify as either a section net or a local net in the ARRL National Traffic System. The net and its management have steadfastly refused to respond to the wishes of the ARRL Administration within this section. Therefore, I cannot justify expending ARRL funds issuing certificates to FMTN members/1 said Huddleston.

This last statement is considered enlightening because most FMTN members are ARRL members.

To summarize, after 22 years of operation, the FMTN was asked by Huddleston to hand over control of the net and the frequency to him last Septem ber. He said that he felt unconv fortable with so many nets oper ating in "his" section. The FMTN members voted 55 to 2 for rejecting Huddteston's demands.

Shortly thereafter, Huddleston was instrumental in establishing a new net just four kHz up in frequency at the same hour Evidently, he was hoping to use his influence and the ARRL's prestige to lure FMTN members away since most FMTN members belong to the League. Most of/icialsexpected this to happen, but, surprisingly enough, the opposite occurred. The new net, called the Combined Florida Net (CFN), created more hard feelings by "clearing" its 7,251 kHz frequency at net time by just opening up on top of stations already in QSO. It seems that Huddleston and CFN! underestimated the strength of those upon whom they tried to trample, because after two rocky ineffective months in which several sessions were cancelled, the CFN was forced to m,ove just to survive.

Despile the move, CFN continued to falter as daytime traffic operators rallied behind FMTN and its democratic stand, FMTN has been the top net of any in Florida for the last 11 months running, based on official statistics in Florida Skip, in messages per session handled. The long anticipated wilting of FMTN was not to be, as many operators became incensed about losing their right to elect their own manager and not have it dictated by Huddleston, CFN went begging for traffic while people waited in line to pass messages on FMTN. A telephone campaign by some Florida ARRL officials to recruit CFN members also was a dismal failure.

When the latest Skip statistics showed FMTN on top again last month, it must have been more than Huddleston could take. After failing to get FMTN cut out of the national nets, he sent the letter expelling FMTN from the ARRL because they wouldn't let him take over.

For the 70 FMTN members, reaction was immediate, Included among the members are several club presidents and officers statewide. Comments ranged from "dumb" to "smacking of a dictatorship" describing Huddleston's action.

The big sting came last December when one member of the then-new CFN net was told by a North Florida ARRL official that he couldn't eat at 5 pm any more because he was needed to make the new system of nets work in conjunction with linking CFN with a later net. A lengthy shouting match occurred on the CFN frequency with the poor soui saying he just wanted to continue eating at 5 o'clock as he had done for the last 25 years. Fortunately, it's all on tape so it can t be denied.

We have no reaction from North Florida ARRL officials on Huddleston's mass ejection, but they have backed him up in the past to the point that some have said that the statewide policies are ail made by Huddleston in Largo and rubber-stamped in the rest of the state. It will be interesting to see if this holds true now.

Meanwhile, Florida Mtdday Traffic Net officials have declared themselves an independent net whose members operate on the legal basis of their FCC licenses and not through the sanction of the ARRL. Meanwhile, the controversy continues about the tactics involved and daytime operators continue to support FMTN in growing numbers.

This may be one case where David rises up and slaps Goliath!

From NOFARS Balanced Modulator, September, 1979

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