One sunny day last October, I found myself standing outside, steadying a ladder as my brother-in-law climbed up to the roof of his house. Once up there, he spent four or five cheerful hours tinkering around with a complicated antenna system, orienting it by degrees. Eventually he climbed down, having successfully caught the signal of frequency channels 2-36, meaning he could watch the major networks and local channels. Later, in his office, he showed me pages on an online forum filled with TV-signal enthusiasts offering advice and sharing their own difficulties and successes.
For those who spend any time discussing their collections online on forums like Delphi and stampcommunity.org, you probably know where I am going with this. Before, I saw my brother-in-law’s enthusiasm for connecting to far-off TV signals as a slightly dangerous means to watch a wider variety of channels. Now, seeing how many other enthusiasts were gathering online, an important switch was flipped in my brain - it’s his hobby!
With this change in perspective I suddenly understood him far better. (And I said a silent “thank you” that stamp collecting, at least, doesn’t require people to climb on their roofs.) I went online to search for more information and stumbled across a name - DXers, meaning TV and FM signal enthusiasts - and an organization, the Worldwide TV-FM Associations.
Inspired, I emailed the secretary of the association and arranged a gift membership (only $10 for a year), timed to appear in my brother-in-law’s email inbox on Christmas Day. A few months later, my brother-in-law called me to tell me that he had received a personal shout out by name in the January 2021 issue of The VHF-UHF Digest, the official publication of the organization (he sounded excited, just like I was when I received my first issue of the AP as an official member of the APS and saw my name listed in the Membership Report).
I won’t quote the digest directly, but the editor’s column struck a chord. The editor lamented the pandemic, spoke of growth on the website, and welcomed the members to the new year. Are the challenges, woes and conversations happening today in the world of DX-ing the same as we face in philately? Clearly, there are similarities. But the most important similarity, I think, is that all-important one. We have a passion, and we want to share it with others.
This is the true meaning of organized philately - not the services that the APS provides to members, nor the magazine you’re reading now. We are spurred to connect with others. As the Worldwide TV-FM Association website says, “DXing is a hobby that one can do by himself, but many of us like to share our logs and catches with others, and this is where the WTFDA comes in.”
And that is where the APS comes in. If you are new to organized philately, welcome! If you’ve been collecting on your own, no longer.
An excerpt from the January 2021 issue of The VHF-UHF Digest.