(This is an UNEDITED article from the Potomac Valley Radio Club Historical documents. It is contained in the Club's 25th - Silver Anniversary - Commemorative Handbook) by Buddy W4YZC at the time and W4YE now.
PVRC membership means many things to many people ... winning SS and DX Contests, participating in CD parties, Field Day, Contests of all types, BIG signals, super operators, involvement, participating in organizational and regulatory matters relative to amateur radio, pride, fellowship and on and on. Most of all, PVRCers are dedicated to the task at hand ... be it winning the contests, assisting each other, and maintaining friendships over the years that binds us all together.
The concept of an amateur radio club specializing in DX and contests is not new; two dominant forces known for years as archrivals are the Frankford Radio Club (established in 1931) and the Potomac Valley Radio Club. Clubs come and go but PVRC steadfastly remains interested and active in many aspects of amateur radio. "Once a PVRCer., always a PVRCer!"
Immediately following World War II and the resumption of amateur operation, a small group of interested amateurs in the Washington area geared up for post-war operation with emphasis on contests and the pursuit of DX. Several hams at the Pentagon Army Signal Center actively sought to form a new type of club ... one which would be dedicated to excellence in operating technique and winning contests. This idea grew, and by the end of July in 1947 several men gathered at the home of W4KFT in Arlington, Virginia to form a new club known as the Aurora Hills Amateur Radio Club. The following objectives were established for the club: "the promotion of interest in amateur radio communications and experimentation within the club; the maintenance of fraternalism and a high standard of conduct among members; the fostering of participation in amateur activities." The name Aurora Hills Amateur Radio Club lasted only a few months and upon the suggestion of W9NWX/4 (now WODX) the name, Potomac Valley Radio Club emerged. This new name has come to be known and respected in amateur radio circles around the globe.
Records indicate that the charter membership included: W4KFT, W4KFC,.W3JTC (now W4AAV), W3MTQ, W4KXN (now W3GRF), W9NWX/4, W4jUY (now W7YS), W4LRI, W4RQR, W4MKM, W4BFO, W4CC, and W4LA.
September of 1947 saw the election of the first slate of officers. This pioneer group consisted of: President M. C. Richardson, W4KFT; Vice-President V. C. Clark, W4KFC; Activities Manager R. Mitchell., W4RQR; Treasurer L. Chertok, W3GRF, and Secretary C. E. Van Pelt, W4LRI. Under vigorous leadership these early members began the PVRC tradition: W4CC, W4bfo, W4FF, W4LA, W3RSJ, W4EMJ, W4WI, W4QY, WLMV, W3KZQ, W4KVM, W4WO, W3EIV, W3EIS, W4VE, W4LAP, and W4LUE.
The 1947 gang showed its competitive spirit by challenging the larger Washington Radio Club in the SS. The challenge was accepted and PVRC won with a total of 1.15 million points. Under the agreement a gavel was presented by WRC and this same gavel is used by today's PVRC President. In our first year of SS competition we placed third in the nation in the club listings. Not satisfied with this first taste of victory, PVRC challenged WRC in the 48 VHF SS, and.... lost! Despite this setback, PVRC in Its first two years of existence established a winning tradition in contest activities on the HF bands. A later page will show the track record of the PVRC to date.
Unlike most amateur radio clubs PVRC, has not owned a clubhouse or even held a club call. Meetings were held initially at members homes such as W4KFT, W4KFC, W3JTC, W9NWX/4 and other station 1948-1950 saw the meeting place shifted to the WAR transmitter building at Battery Cove in Alexandria. The Korean War necessitated vacating the WAR facilities and for a brief spell members homes were utilized once again. Sometime in 1951 and until December of 1952 the PVRC gathering place was the Printcraft Building in Washington. Through the efforts of W4WBC the club moved to the Arlington Red Cross Building and remained there until December of 1972. Presently, the club meeting places alternate between schools in Fairfax, Virginia and Clinton, Maryland. Almost without exception, meetings are held the first and third Mondays of each month with summer meetings held monthly at members homes.
Speaking of meetings, what is a PVRC meeting like? Formal and highly structured meetings have never been the order at our club. While 8 PM is the appointed hour, ragchews usually delay the banging of the President's gavel until 8:15. Attendance has varied over the years from about 20 to over 70 on occasion. Meetings concentrate on the most important order of the day ... an upcoming contest or a postmortem of the same. Tips on antennas, rigs, receivers, operating practices, visits by USA and foreign amateurs, special projects and general involvement in legislative and political ends of amateur radio are the usual topics considered. Our support and involvement in ARRL has been both extensive and meaningful. W3SW currently serves at Atlantic Division Director, while W4KFC is the Roanoke Division Director. Several assistant directors such as W4ZM, and K3JYZ serve the membership. Former SCM's include: Virginia:
W4KFC and the late W4FF. Maryland-District of Columbia the late W3BKE, and K3JYZ. Alabama and Georgia W4AGI. Currently, W6NUT serves as SC M of San Francisco and W3FA for Maryland and D.C.
The highlight of many meetings is visits by "visiting fireman" from afar who bring us the interesting and exciting picture of amateur radio elsewhere. Just a brief scanning of old minutes shows these guests: CX7BF, CE30K, EP5X, EP2BB, DJ3HC, DL4DX, DL4WA, DL4WE, DL4JN, DL6TQ, DL7ZA, ET3GK, G2AH, G3BXN, G3IZQ, G8VG, G2RO, FP8AP, HB9IA, HBGAW, HC1KA, HA5KA, JA3AF, HL9KF, KP4CRT, KP4VD, KP6AB, KL7ACO, KL7PJ, HS5ABD, KX6AF, KH6YL, KH6DR, KL7GMA, KV4AM, ON5VY, OK1WI, OD5LX, SP5KK, PAOZN, PAOPRT, SV7AA, TA3AA, TI2BX, TF5SV, VK3ACS, VR3A, VP8AO, VE2BX, VE2AWH, VE3NR,, VE3CDL, V06AT, VQ8CC, XV5AC, T12CMP, VU1IRA, YA1AM, YV3JA, XW8CS, ZC6JM, 9M4LP, and at least one UA3.
Special projects or activities in which the club has engaged in since its formation include:
1 - Novice Night - held in 1952, the first in the Washington area with over 50 WN's present, prizes galore and W4WBC became the first Novice to join us.
2 - Hamfest/Convention Participation - Atlantic Division Convention 1948, ARRL National in Washington 1958, Roanoke Division Convention 1973, and attendance by many members at every national convention of the ARRL since our founding.
3 - Club banquets. The first crowfest was held in 1950 when the W3SS team defeated the W4,s! Our annual Christmas Dinner has become a great tradition with over 100 in attendance. Highlight is the awarding of the Cole Award to the member who has contributed the most during the past year.
4 - Joint meeting held annually with Frankford Radio Club which began in the 1950's. These annual get-togethers with the FRC gang alternate between Philadelphia and Washington. Each meeting has been an outstanding success with lively discussions of mutual interests and concerns. A high degree of compatibility and friendly rivalry has been demonstrated over many years.
What is the typical PVRCer like? First, he is not typical and contrary to the Amateur Code he is not balanced! Our members range in age from 14 to over 80! The majority are married and many work for Uncle Sam. All types of occupations are represented in our ranks: Military officers, MD's, lawyers, teachers, electronic engineers, salesmen, and just about every occupation you can name. The common element is that each member has an uncommon zeal for competition and strives for bigger and better achievements. The typical PVRC station is not very typical at all. Super stations such as W3AU, KlLPL/3, W4BVV, W4KXV, W3GRF and W4KFC, to mention a few, sport multi-element antennas, several transmitters and receiver and station design and lay-out oriented for contest operation. The 1960's saw the advent of multi-operator stations such as W4BVV, W3AU, K3JYZ, w4KXV, and K4CG. These stations run up millions of points in CQ and ARRL DX contests.
If there is a typical single operator station, it consists of dipole antennas for 80 and 40, a wire for 160, and a trap tri-band beam for 20-15-10. Many members utilize the full KW input but several manage with far less power input. Many members keep in touch locally by using the 147 MHZ net In the early years it was common for the PVRC station to have all home brew gear sprinkled with a surplus receiver. ARC-5's, ART 13's, BC-348,s,, and the like were most typical in the late 40's. Only a few stations had commercial gear. Today's PVRCer generally has Drake, Heath, Collins, or Swan gear. Many of us still continue to build their own KW amplifiers.
One of the high points in being a PVRC member is fellowship, of a kind rarely found in other clubs. Through mutual help, members have licked the problems of TVI/BCI/RFI; towers and antennas have been erected by the dozens (including efforts to overcome restrictive ordinances in the area). Rigs and receivers have been debugged, modified, and generally tuned to perfection by mutual help. A very special thanks must go to the many who have donated gear to the cause. W3GRF, W4KFC, and others have donated many choice items of equipment plus many hours of expert technical assistance to members.
Thus, the PVRC story to this date recalls the many individuals who have helped to make our club what it is today. As the membership continues to grow and our members move in and out of the Washington area, we annually renew friendships during the on-the-air PVRC Reunion Activity held in the spring of each year.
PVRC celebrates its 25th anniversary with renewed dedication to maintain excellence in terms of competitiveamateur activities of all descriptions. Our enthusiasm in promotion of the "Greatest Hobby in the World" continues steadfastly.
There is little doubt that when the 50th anniversary of PVRC is recorded it will be another chapter of firsts for the POTOMAC VALLEY RADIO CLUB. AR- W4YZC
Special thanks to: the XYLS who have tolerated/assisted/encouraged us and have generally exhibited unbelievable patience over the years' the remaining charter members in this area, W3GRF and W4KFC, who supplied much material in the writing of this history. our country and the American Radio Relay League for giving us the privilege of being radio amateurs.