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WeatherBrains 210: Amateur Radio

WeatherBrains Episode 210 is now online (Feb. 1, 2010). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

WeatherBrains - February 1, 2010

Our guest panelist for this show is Thom Benson, Communications Manager at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. The Aquarium is presenting an exhibition called the “Wild Side of Weather” spotlighting their animals and their inclusion in Signal Corps Director W.B. Hazen’s 1883 book that collected weather proverbs from American citizens. Thom was the morning meteorologist at WRCB-TV (NBC affiliate) in Chattanooga for just over 12 years before coming to the Aquarium. Prior to that he was on-air met at KTXS-TV (ABC affiliate) in Abilene, TX, and weekend weather/reporter at WSIL-TV (ABC affiliate) in Harrisburg, IL. He even worked behind the scenes at CNN in Atlanta and at WIFR-TV (CBS affiliate) in Rockford, Illiniois. Thom graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in Communications. He later completed the Broadcast Meteorology Program through Mississippi State University and his NWA seal is currently inactive plus he continues to keep his membership current to support the organization.

This week the illustrious gang of weather geeks at WeatherBrains looks at amateur radio. James Spann, Brian Peters, and Bill Murray are all licensed amateur radio operators. Amateur radio has provided a great service over the years in the area of storm spotting. But like any thing, changes occur. So in this episode we talk with Allen Pitts and Rob Macedo.

Allen PittsAllen Pitts, W1AGP, is an Amateur Extra class licensee who lives in New Britain, Connecticut, and works as Media and Public Relations Manager for the ARRL, American Radio Relay League. Pitts came to the ARRL in September, 2004, and as he sees it, he arrived at the League at a critical juncture for Amateur Radio as BPL issues and Hurricane Katrina operations soon challenged the ARRL. Pitts emphasizes that while he takes his public relations role most seriously, he also wants it understood that he’s an active radio amateur and “not just a PR person.” Pitts came to the ARRL after a three-year stint as executive director of The Box Project Inc–a national, member-based charity that matches volunteers with families needing help. For eight years prior to that, he directed a multi-program human services agency that, among other things, was responsible for emergency shelters, transitional living, a court alternative sanctions program, emergency food services and an AIDS respite program. He also has many years experience as a senior therapist in hospital psychiatry settings. A radio amateur since 1999, he’s no stranger to the ARRL Field Organization, having served as an ARES District Emergency Coordinator and later as Connecticut’s Section Emergency Coordinator and an ARRL Assistant Section Manager. Pitts holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (he served congregations in Kansas and Connecticut in the 1970s and 1980s) and plays a 12-string electric guitar (badly, but joyfully). He and his wife, Donna, have three grown children and six grandchildren. Pitts is active on HF, VHF and UHF. Although primarily a phone operator, he says he tries to keep up at a “basic level” on CW whenever he can. He claims his most creative ideas come in the middle of the night as he talks things over with his friend, Bear.

Rob Macedo, KD1CYRob Macedo, KD1CY, has always had an interest in weather spotting and reporting. Rob has been the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton Massachusetts since 1996 and the Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator since 2005. The NWS Taunton Office receives over 90% of its damage reports through the efforts of Amateur Radio Operators with one-half to two-thirds of rainfall and snowfall reports coming from Amateur Radio Operators as well. Professionally, Rob is a Principle Engineer/Senior Manager at EMC Corporation where he has worked since 1995 having received an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • lots of wild weather
  • major snow events west and south
  • I-40 a skating rink from Oklahoma to North Carolina
  • power outages across a large section of Oklahoma
  • some cold Januarys for locations in Kentucky
  • flash flooding in South Florida
  • and more!
  • Kevin reaches into the old mail bag and pulls out a bunch of mail. Glenn Miller comments roll along, too.

    From The Weather Center:

    WeatherBrains 101: Communicating weather information is a critical element in keeping people safe from the harm that weather can do. But do we understand all of the various terminology that weather folks throw at us? Probably not, so this week at the 101 desk we take a look at the terminology weather alerts – advisory, watch, and warning.

    TWIWH: Bill Murray takes the opportunity to take a poke at some weather humor.

    Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

    Web Sites from Episode 210:

    ARRL, the American Radio Relay League

    Getting into Amateur Radio amateur radio site

    Echo Link

    Blue Skies and Blue Water, Thom Benson’s Blog

    Tennessee Aquarium

    Wild Side of Weather Exhibit at Tennessee Aquarium

    Eastern Massachusetts ARES & SKYWARN

    Citizen Weather Observing Program

    Picks of the Week:

    No picks this week – we listed our favorite folklore sayings.

    The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like JB Elliott, Kevin Selle, Dr. Tim Coleman, Bill Murray, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather.

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