The stories in this section of KC2D's home page are based on the characters and writing style developed by Hugh Cassidy, WA6AUD, the editor of the West Coast DX Bulletin from 1968 until 1979. I have never met Hugh Cassidy in person, but we have spoken a number of times on the telephone and exchanged numerous letters. In November 1996, Hugh sent me his entire collection of WCDXB files, all original copies totalling about 550 issues. For that, I am eternally grateful and I thank WA6AUD for allowing me to be the custodian of over a decade of his contributions to DXing and amateur radio.
I have learned a lot about DXing, DXers and human nature by reading Cass's work. A few years ago, one of the local DXers here in VE1 land marked his 50th birthday. So, I decided to write him a WA6AUD style story and pop it on the local packet cluster, VE1DXC. It is included on this page entitled "The Old Timer's Birthday." While I'm no Hugh Cassidy, I found it easy to copy the writing style and use the characters he'd invented in the WCDXB to get my message across. Now and then, an interesting, controversial, or just plain funny topic would surface in the DX world. If I had the time and inclination, I'd write about it and put it on the cluster message base.
Then came the internet and the DX Reflector mailing list, maintained by Lyndon Nerenberg, VE7TCP. As with the local cluster, VE1DXC, I began posting the occasional WA6AUD style story if the DX topic of the day provided the inspiration. Mike D'Alto, K2CD (EX:N3KFN), asked me if he could publish these stories on his web page. Son of a Gun! I was flattered to say the least. I've always maintained that anything I'd written in this style was in the public domain and free for anyone to reproduce in any form they feel fit. Mike also asked me to write this introduction giving a brief history of how I'd got started and the history of the writing style. Well, enough on me. Here's a brief history of the characters I used and where they came from.
Hugh Cassidy, or "Cass" as he was commonly referred to, began the West Coast DX Bulletin 1968. It has been reported that he did this, in part, as an effort to explain Don Miller, W9WNV, to the DX community. While this may be partially true, Hugh tells me "Our arrival on the scene was more coincident than an attempt to jump into the Don Miller dispute." Nonetheless, Hugh was a straight shooter on that topic. In the late sixties, the WCDXB reported the Miller saga in a neutral manner. Unlike other publications of the day, Hugh made no attempt to editorialize the issue or give it any spin. In later years, he did make his feelings known on W9WNV in true Cass style. Mike and I have included a couple of stories on this topic by the master himself, entitled "I Remember Don" and "How Don Miller Did It", that he wrote for the Northern California DX Club's Newsletter THE DXER a few years ago.
WA6AUD published the WCDXB for 11 years, every week, without missing one . . . and he and his XYL Virginia did it alone! That's right, a two person publishing team who used the cover "The Marin County DX Group." At its peak, the WCDXB had a circulation of 3200 . . . 2600 in the US, Canada and Mexico and 600 overseas. This was all done by hand by these two people! Their equipment in the shack consisted of a MULTILITH 1250 offset printing press, a big camera and a processor for making the paper printing plates.
The WCDXB had the usual DXpedition information and propagation forecasts, etc. However, what made it unique was Cass's editorial every week where he put a humorous spin on the DX events of the day. He did this by inventing a unique writing style, along with a number of fictitious characters that argued about DXing, DXpeditions and almost anything else that was controversial at the time. In the limelight were the Local QRPers. They were not QRP operators in the true sense . . . in fact many of them had respectable linears and a few even had monobanders to go with the extra power. They were deemed to be DXers with country totals somewhere between 100 and 150. They had enough experience to ask the right questions, but never really understanding the answers. The Locals had the interest, energy and motivation. They wanted to know everything about DXing, and they were the ones who were always seeking the true meaning of DX IS, trying to understand the Mysteries of the Ages, the Inevitable Truths and the Eternal Enigmas of DXing.
The Old Timer knew everything about DX and DXing. He had everything worked, and had grown up with amateur radio. It was rumored he was there when the first DXCC QSO was made in 1945. He never tired of DXing and was always ready for the next new one. The Old Timer had all the answers, but it was difficult to get him to share them with the QRPers. The Old Timer was both patient and impatient at the same time, realizing that in many cases if you had to ask the question, you wouldn't understand the answer! Sunspot Louie watched the solar flux and the Ap index. His cousin, Red-Eyed Louie, was forever spending long days and nights tuning the bands . . . he always knew where the DX was, when it was on, etc. His legendary red eyes came from scanning the dials looking for DX to report, and, more recently, from watching packet cluster screens. There was the Legion of Handwringers, the malcontents who were forever finding something to worry and complain about. The Hero of Mafeking, a relative of Baden Powell, was always around prior to DXpeditions warning the Deserving DXers to "Be prepared!"
The Palos Verdes Sundancers were the ones who brought on the solar cycles . . . they first appeared near the bottom of Cycle 20 when QST was reporting the possibility of another Maunder Minimum. There was historical evidence that there was a time some hundreds of years ago when there were no sunspots for a period of about seventy years. This fact was discovered by someone named Maunder, hence the name. In order to prevent such a dire reoccurrence, the Palos Verdes Sundancers got out their grass skirts and the big bass bongo, Big DX, and danced up the sunspots every 11 years or so. The problem with the Sundancers was that after they got the flux up, they lost interest and stopped dancing! This plunged us into another cycle minimum and they had to be coaxed into doing it all over again.
Terms such as The Great Days of DXing, Only The Deserving, Be a Believer, and of course DX IS! all came from the wit and wisdom of Hugh Cassidy and the WCDXB. We still hear these phrases today being used by seasoned DXers and newcomers alike, some perhaps not even aware of their origin. Nevertheless, they have become part of the DX experience, jargon exchanged by true-blue DXers in their quest for just one more new one!
In 1979, Hugh Cassidy decided to cease publication of the WCDXB. In his own words, "In simple truth, the bulletin was taking all our time every day of the week. There were times when I would work until two or three in the morning on the bulletin and then go right back to work when we arose in the morning." When Hugh ceased publication, there were other editors who claimed they were the successor to Cass. This is not entirely true. Again, in Hugh Cassidy's own words: "On the WCDXB, I was the only editor. I ran its course and knocked it on the head when I got to the point where I had to end it. If some say they are the successor, it is not quite true. One group wanted to buy the mailing list, I sold that. I never did sell the bulletin."
Finally, I will mention that, to my knowledge, WA6AUD is the only person ever elected to the CQ Magazine DX Hall of Fame who was not a DXpeditioner. He was so honored because of his literary contributions to DXing. And this honor was well deserved. Absolutely.
We miss the WCDXB, Hugh, but your legacy lives on in the minds of the Deserving True-Blue DXers, who, for the most part, have come to understand the true meaning of DX IS! You made us laugh at ourselves. You made us think about DXers and DXing! You showed us our strengths and weaknesses, and most of all, you made us better DXers.
73 Paul, VE1DX
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