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Are you aware that your club is hosting the 2018 SARL AGM?

Dear members

I have organized two AGM's and one convention in the past thus I can lay claim to know what to do and what not to do.

Some of you are aware that I will be relocating to Cape Town in January next year thus I will not be around to assist but I do wish to leave some thoughts with you on how to have a successful convention - and please, not a boring AGM!


Tjerk ZS6P, ZS1J

To Convene or not to Convene?

Do all Radio Amateurs share the same interests? What is their make-up?

1. Organizers/Politicians

2. Socializers

3. DX’ers

4. Constructors

5. Experimenters

Although there are indeed a few that underwrite more than one facet of the hobby, the majority only show interest in their field of choice, and thus we can conclude that few of groups 2 to 5 could be swayed to attend the actual AGM meeting. After all, who would be so dumb as to travel at great expense to an AGM to argue with like-minded people for a couple of hours in a meeting when there are so many other interesting things in life to do. It is my confirmed belief that AGM meetings, per se, hold no attraction for the majority of Amateurs.

Are you planning an AGM or a Convention? If it is the latter then sell it as such and in future leave out the word AGM. This will allow you to clearly focus on the job of what a Convention is all about and on how to round up a captive audience. Just that, and nothing, but nothing else.

The recipe:

The organizing of the AGM meeting must be left to the League’s secretary. It is not “the reason to be” for the Convention. By all means hold it on the same date and at the same venue, but, the timing of that meeting may not interfere with, or influence events that are held to pull the crowds. Why? You are holding a Convention of which the AGM meeting forms part and not the other way round. Even though I was chairman of Pretoria when we hosted “Amateur Radio Africa 93” we appointed an AGM delegate so that I could spend time ensuring that our visitors were having a good time as this was of uppermost importance.

You will require visionaries, planners and doers on your convention committee; it also requires a couple of months of free and work time to bring your master plan to fruition.

The program has to be well thought out to make sure that it will cater for the various interest groups. Do not overdo it. This happened to us when even our most enthusiastic visitors could no longer keep up the pace - there just was too much to do.

Proven crowd pullers are:


Flea market




Non-amateur related groups such as radio flyers (static display) etc. could also participate.

The choice of the venue is very important as this can make or break any convention. It should ideally be close to where the majority of Amateurs live. If not, you will have to work twice as hard to lure them (some).

Your venue should allow outside catering. Casual visitors do their nut for boerewors rolls, hamburgers, curry and rice etc. They want to eat on demand and are definitely not interested in the rigors of hotel catering. By all means do the catering yourself as it will be very beneficial to the club’s kitty, Yet, the concession could be sold (money) to interested parties such as the Vroue Vroeterasie. Both QST and CQ magazines rate conventions and flea markets by the quality and availability of food and refreshments.

Advertise! Hit the Sunday bulletins and shower the editor of Radio ZS with ready to publish copy for our magazine. Personal invitations have to be sent to all clubs.

Going to have an Awards dinner on Saturday night? Relative cheap day/overnight facilities have to be provided for those coming from afar. Rustenburg it is too far, even for JHB and Pretoria; for visitors to shoot back in the afternoon to fetch their dinner date and then go back at midnight after an enjoyable evening of eating and imbibing is a big no-no. Take heed if you want more than just delegates to attend the dinner.

Pretoria leads the way.

“ARA93” was such a roaring success that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate. During the Award dinner Hans AKV proclaimed “ARA93” as the greatest Amateur happening to date (Africa). Wow, as Hans is not often given to praise, we must have done exceptionally well! What makes us so smart? We made use of the right people and all the opportunities that came our way.

Our venue was the new conference center of the University of Pretoria with the use of the adjacent lecture halls. I must admit that it does no harm to have the Vice-Rector as a club member.

The fact that we had JUST UNDER A THOUSAND VISITORS was in no small measure due to advertising on the National Bulletin and in Radio ZS as well as the local press (free).

I made sure that the required planners and doers served on my committee. The visionary act was attended to by Hans ZS5AKV, with whom I had many a session whenever work took him to Pretoria. I literary brain-drained him with my many questions that I expected him to provide answers to. Hans was one of the major players along with the late Tinus ZS6TL who was my constant motivator, nagger and behind the scene organizer.

Our program had everything we could think of, and at that, even a bit too much. We made lavish use of firm favourites such as Tony Voorveldt and Ivo to name but a few. Imagine, we even got Leon Foot to come up from the Free Sate to do a DX presentation! Indoor shows, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitors and on the air stations vied with the outdoor exhibitors such as Hamnet, Pretoria Club’s Rally equipment and the food/flea market stalls.

The floor space that I sold to exhibitors brought in a small fortune and consequently we were able to offer many freebies such as Friday evening’s drinks for delegates, no entrance fees and subsidized dinner prices. We ran the entire show without once digging into the club’s AGM fund, but the cherry on top was that I had more than a thousand Rand left over that I used to wine and dine my team, along with their partners, to say thank you!

It is not my intention to criticize past organizers and the two examples below are only there for you to study so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Durban’s Convention had out of town members outnumbering locals!  Wrong program? Lack of promotion? Or were there just too many causalities amongst the Durbanites after the Friday night gig?.  The cafeteria catering was not up to scratch as half of the allotted time for lunch was spent queuing for food and/or drink.  The Awards dinner also saw few locals.

During the year at Sentech members/delegates were joined by only one lonely exhibitor. What a ghastly flop. Was this actually intended to have been a gathering of Radio Amateurs? The reason for this failure was zero effort coupled to zero program! Once again cafeteria catering but at least West Rand had the foresight to smuggle in a trailer load of ice-cold beer. The Awards dinner, in sharp contrast, was well attended.


Boetie, julle sal moet vinger trek!


Tjerk ZS6P, ZS1J

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