Sunday, January 3, 2010

Big Gun Contesting and DXing - A Look Forward

This is the start of not just a new year, but the start of new decade. We thought this would be a good time to take a look forward to see what the future of Big Gun DXing and Contesting will look like. To get an idea of the future, we went to the most advanced Big Gun we know - Macho Cuesew, the king of Xtreme contesters. Below is Macho's essay in his own words. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Lost Island DX Society, the Fi-Ni Report, or Major League Baseball.

The future Big Gun and his station will be modeled on NASCAR. Radios, antennas, towers, they're all expensive and sponsorship is the way to get to the big time, unless you're independently wealthy or a successful gambler.

In exchange for the sponsor's help, naturally I'll help advertise their products - all off the air of course. I've already ordered myself one of those jumpsuits like the NASCAR drivers wear. Across the chest and back I'll have the major sponsor's logos emblazoned, and have smaller patches on the arms and legs for minor sponsors. I'll wear the jumpsuit at every 'appearance' I make, like hamfests and club meetings. So don't be surprised if in April you see me at Dayton with my jumpsuit on, Icom across the chest, Force-12 across the back, Vibroplex on the right arm, Dunestar on the left. Of course this is all pending getting those sponsors on boards.

But the real key to promoting myself as a Big Gun and getting those sponsors is the web. Several Big Gun stations have started streaming live audio during contests from their stations. A few are even doing live video as well. This is a great way to get and keep little guns and beginners interested in big-time contesting. But all those eyeballs and ears are also potential customers for my sponsors.

I'll equip the shack with live video and audio, in HD and stereo, to broadcast every contest. It'll be just like the NASCAR in-car cameras, except full-time. That also means arranging the shack to insure that sponsor's products are prominently displayed for all to see. Of course, I'll also wear my jumpsuit to operate every contest.

Now, this is where we make the jump to the real big time. Once we have those viewers watching during the contest, we can expand beyond traditional radio equipment suppliers. Just like NASCAR went beyond car and parts manufacturers to sign up sponsors like Tide and Viagra, we can do the same thing in contesting.

Just like in the movies, the key will be product placement. So, for example, I can have a Red Bull energy drink sitting there on the operating desk that I can sip from, or a Starbucks coffee mug with my coffee in it. The key is finding products that would interest contesters and DXers, or even hams in general.

You can even slip in an occasional endorsement since there will be live audio. For example, you might casually comment, "Boy, that Alpha Big Boy amp sure busts the pileups easily", or " That Red Fulla-Bull energy drink sure wakes me up!".

There's a non-radio product that is ideal to pitch to both serious contesters as well the generally graying ham radio population, but I'm having trouble convincing the manufacturer. That product is Depends. My best idea so far to during the contest let out a big sigh and comment, "Depends lets me keep running." Shoot, that could make a YouTube video ad by itself.

We can also stick in plugs for our sponsors in our soapbox comments, not unlike the post-race interviews with the NASCAR drivers. For example, the soapbox for the next big contest might read like this: "I tell ya', the Yaesu/Ameritron/Cushcraft/Depends super station was just awesome this weekend. We were a little slow there at the start due to some local power line QRM, but once that cleared up we had some great runs to Europe in large part thanks to those heavy duty Depends which help keep us in the chair. Toward the end of the contest we got a little drowsy, but a double shot of Stahbucks espresso gave me the jolt I needed to make it to the end. "

The future Big Gun may very well be named Ricky Bobby.

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