A site of endless curiosity

On being Bob Sullivan W0YVA: amateur radio at the margins of society

The Public Image of Amateur Radio in the Popular Media.

writerWhat is the public image of Amateur Radio?  It seems that the media (television and print) has done a number on Amateur Radio.  Stereotypes become compelling and believable to the extent that they contain an element of truth that can be validated by ordinary people in ordinary experience.

What is the popular media’s understanding of Amateur Radio?  Amateur Radio folk have been stereotyped and portrayed on Television in an almost consistent way.

For example, in the popular media as represented by television characters are also Amateur Radio operators are portrayed in a common way.

Here is a sampling… Herman Munster, Drew Carey, On the Simpson the two unmarried and unattractive sisters of Marge, Ross in the Patty Duke show, Dilbert is a Amateur Radio operator, and our favorite talking horse – Mr. Ed – took up Amateur radio when Wilbur would not talk to him and Ed became lonely.

TIME Magazine

What about the print media.  Here is an entry from an Amateur Radio discussion group

Amateurs Demand Apology By TIME Magazine: Amateurs around the U.S.A., and in other nations as well, have been writing to TIME Magazine. They are demanding an apology from TIME for failing to edit out a slur against Amateur radio in TIME’s December 31, 2004 issue. That edition featured an article by Lev Grossman about Internet blogging. At one point, Mr. Grossman wrote this:

“Before this year, blogs were a curiosity, a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby on the order of Amateur radio and stamp collecting.”

Amateur Radio as a “faintly embarrassing hobby”?

What is the commonality?  Television consistently portrays Amateur Radio in a negative light with such characters as Herman Munster, Marges sisters, Dew Carey and the like.  At least the writer, and editors of TIME that let the copy get into print, perhaps assumed the common understanding that “stamp collecting” was odd as was Amateur Radio – and embarrassing to boot!

standarddistrubutionThe Bell Curve of Normality

The Bell Curve shows the probability distribution of a population.  Two standard deviations captures 95% of the population.  What if you are not within two standard deviations from the mean?  Read more on Standard Deviation and read more on the book The Bell Curve about class structure.

And on this side fo the Curve…

Herman Munster is far from the center of the Bell Curve of normalcy if the center of the Bell Curve represent the common average citizen.  Herman Munster is at least a couple standard deviations away from the center.  A couple of standard deviations of behavior away from the center makes you exceptional.

Exceptional can be interpreted in a good way or a bad way.  In the case of Herman Munster in general, and Herman Munster the Amateur Radio operator, he’s a couple of Standard Deviates on, what most folks would conclude, the “wrong side” of the curve.

… and on the other side we have….

On Being Bob Sullivan W0YVA

There are plenty of negative images of Amateur Radio.  How about an image of Amateur radio that is at the opposite end of the common representation of Amateur Radio?  That is, someone you can find by leaving Herman Munster, crossong the mean of “average”, and cross a couple of standard deviations on the “other side”.

We stumbled across Bob Sullivan’s (W0YVA) personal Web page.  We are going to nominate Bob as the new image of Amateur Radio.  Take a look at his web site

Auctioning your Life on ebay

In the recent past, someone auctioned off his life on ebay.  The auction included his job, car, house, and possessions.  Not sure if a divorce was included making the wife available as well – perhaps that was open to negotiation.

If Bob Sullivan W0YVA auctioned off his life – I wonder how many Amateurs would make a bid.


If Bob’s web site disappears – we snagged a few pages


Good for you, Bob !

On the margins – WA6MHZ

Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life
Summary from the Wikipedia is here

Will the Bob Sullivan please stand up – from his “real life” web site


Robert will provide your audience with the information required to determine if they have what it takes to start a small business. He’ll also explain what steps to take to ensure success.

Robert can discuss a variety of topics, including selecting a business structure, choosing partners, planning, marketing, protection, and computer technology, including use of the Internet. He also offers many “real life” vignettes and easy-to-remember “truisms,” both of which serve to drive home important lessons.

Author of The Small Business Start-Up Guide, and United States Government – New Customer!, Robert heads a Washington, DC area firm which he founded in 1990 and whose mission, in part, is to assist and advise individuals who are considering starting a small business. He frequently lectures on starting small businesses and entrepreneurialship in forums including colleges, out-placement organizations, SCORE and appears on CNBC and National Public Radio (NPR) as a small business expert. He is also on the Panel of Experts of Bottom Line Business magazine.

Robert has spent some of his career in the corporate world and part in government, but his first love remains being involved in activities that assist and energize the new entrepreneur. He also spent many years with the legendary Admiral Hyman Rickover and culminated his government career as a special assistant for information technology to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research & Acquisition.

When he’s not in front of a computer you’ll find him playing with his favorite toys – a Harley-Davidson Road King or Ferrari 512TR. (Bob’s personal pages)


Written by frrl

November 4, 2008 at 4:57 am

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