HAM Radio 101

Word of the Day: Rag-Chewing

There are several aspects of Ham Radio in which brevity is preferred. If you’re in a heated contest where every contact (QSO) matters and the clock is ticking, you won’t be sharing your favorite Field Day macaroni salad recipe with the Ham on the other end. You make your contact and move on. Same goes for trying to reach highly anticipated DXpeditions, where operators in remote locales are trying to contact as many DXers as possible in a brief window of time.

But for gregarious types who enjoy talking and making on-air friends, rag-chewing is what Amateur Radio was made for. The term rag-chewing, or chewing the rag, dates back to the Middle Ages. Whether operating a base, mobile or handheld rig, rag-chewing simply means engaging in a lengthy conversation with another operator—everything from a friendly exchange about the propagation in your neck of the woods to a discussion of the NFL draft. Before you begin, be sure you know the rules about what you can’t do on the air as an amateur operator (broadcast music, run commercials about your business, etc.). See section 97.113 of the  Amateur Radio Service FCC Rules for details on Prohibited Transmissions.

The ARRL used to have a “Rag Chewers Club” (RCC) award for contacts that were at least 30 minutes long. This award may come back since ARRL members have been requesting it.

One way to make long hours of rag-chewing more enjoyable is to invest in a comfortable pair of headphones or a hands-free headset available from DX Engineering.


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