An Important Tradition

by Jack Bradbury

It doesn't take long for the new DXer to realize that this is a hobby of strong egos and even stronger petty squabbles. Those of us who have spun the tuning dial a few times ask Where would this hobby be if we didn't hate one another over things that happened three decades ago! For many of us, much of the joy comes from bickering with one another.

But, you can't be part of this hobby without picking a side. So, we're going to do you the favor of listing a few of the major players in the DX feuds. You can't be a real DXer without having a DX Hero to support and root for in the never-ending squabbles of our hobby. It's hard to change sides later, so chose wisely.

Sven Gonzalez

Most DXers can not remember a time when there wasn't a Sven Gonzalez. Some even think he predates the ionsphere. Sven is truly the King of the DX Squabble, having been involved in countless petty quarrels over the years. A few of them especially stand out for their intensity and/or longevity. Like others on this list, Sven believes that his name does not appear frequently enough in DX publications. For many years, Sven has maintained a very understandable policy that if a radio station has ever been mentioned in one of his DX publications or radio shows, the name of that station can not be reprinted by any other DX publication without proper acknowledgement. (Sven prefers something simple like Mention of the preceding station originally appeared in one of the illustrious works of the internationally reknown Sven Gonzalez.)

Sven's long-standing sandbox fight with the now defunct SODS organization is the classic by which all DX squabbles must be measured. For many years, all of Sven's columns carried a notice that Bruce Grimes was prohibited from even thinking about any radio station that Sven mentioned in his column. In recent years, some believe Sven may have developed a fear of being replaced by someone younger, hence his feud with Rick Robles. Nevertheless, the followers of Sven represent the largest group in our hobby. However, they are also the most disorganized, which probably explains why not all DXers have been converted to be Disciples of Sven.

Some liken Sven to the Buddha, in that many of his followers have taken up meditation while listening to Sven's voice. Sven's proudest achievement is being invited to hum the theme song of his World of Jammers DX program at Carnegie Hall

Rick Robles and DX Tortilla

Rick Robles, the Supreme Leader of DX Tortilla, has banned several DX clubs and DX editors from reprinting material from DX Tortilla. Rick especially has it in for Sven Gonzalez and has been quoted as saying, If Sven ever reprints something else from DX Tortilla, I will personally remove his Swedish meatballs. We thought he was just having a bad hair day, but in a recent picture Rick's hair really doesn't look all that bad. His pants may have been a bit too tight in the crotch, though. It's easy to see how that could make you irritable.

Rick got into this hobby in the mid 1980s when his employer at the time, the CIA, assigned him to infiltrate East European DX clubs. Rick found that he actually liked DXing, so he continued in the hobby after resigning from the agency in 1992 to become a pizza deliveryman. His experience in covert operations was very useful in working his way to the top of the North American DX scene.

Several DX clubs have stated that they would prefer not to have Rick as a member, as they fear his gentle, cooperative attitude might contaminate their membership. One of those is the OldFartDXers mailing list, which expelled Rick in 1998 after he launched a failed coup d'etat against the club leadership. For a time, Rick prohibited Old Fart DXers from joining DX Tortilla but gave up on that after finding out that 71% of the DX Tortilla membership was actually Old Fart DXers under assumed names and secondary e-mail addresses. It is believed that Rick always DXes with a loaded pistol next to his receiver.

Some liken Rick to Islamic fundamentalists in his determination to exterminate all that oppose him. Many of his followers believe that DX Tortilla is the road to paradise. One of Rick's proudest achievements is learning to curse fluently in Uzbek.

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts of the Queensland DX Report has maintained a firm hand over the Queensland DXing scene since 1947 when, at the age of ten, he successfully overthrew the previous Dean of Queensland DXing, Nigel Boscomb. Paul has been involved in DX publishing since 1956 (shortly after he learned to read and write). As we saw, Sven Gonzalez and Rick Robles are alike in that they don't want anyone using their material without properly acknowledging that (Sven or Rick) is the best thing that ever happened to the DX hobby. Paul Roberts, on the other hand, doesn't care about getting credit for his work because he actually publishes very little original material. Instead he reprints hundreds of thousands of words each year, conveniently forgetting to mention that it originated with someone else. Actually, this is quite legal as in 1960 his hometown of Moonie, Queensland passed a law that declared all copyrights null and void unless the text has been tattooed on the copyright holder's posterior. Obviously, Roberts was mayor at the time. And, even if your DX news was tattooed on your posterior, you might want to think twice before showing it to Paul.

By the late 1970s, Paul and Sven Gonzalez were bitter enemies over this difference of opinion. For several years in the 1980s, they carried on a campaign of sending highly insulting letters to various international radio personalities, each signing the other's name. Given the high cost of international postage, they eventually dropped that and now just exchange insulting e-mails with one another every Thursday.

In recent years, Paul and Rick Robles have used their respective DX publications to hurl insults at one another. In a few of the more creative ones, Rick accused Paul of using an antenna tuner to molest a baby kangaroo, while Paul said that Rick wears Sven Gonzalez's dirty socks. For many years, Paul and Bill Rumbley had an on-going spat, but there are unconfirmed reports that they have made up to the point of exchanging Christmas cards. It is unlikely they will ever get back to the point of exchanging birthday cards, however.

Some liken Paul to Jim Jones of the Peoples' Temple as he has been known to pass out poisoned Kool-Aid to his enemies at DX conventions. Paul's proudest achievement was putting his photo on the cover of his DX magazine for the 100th time.

The OldFartDXers

A few long-time DXers, such as Bill Rumbley, Bill Kyle, Bruce Grimes, and Sam Boyle, are prominent members of the OldFartDXers mailing list, which is maintained by Jack Mann. The OldFartDXers mailing list was formed after the Secret Order of DX Selectivity (SODS) folded in 1997. This group is best known for its feud with Sven Gonzalez, which goes back to the age of DXers in bell-bottoms.

Sven was a member of SODS for its first several years, but disagreements between him and the leadership soon caused a split. It started with a shouting match at a 1972 DX convention over what color the cover of BLANDX should be. (Sven preferred lavender, while the others preferred magenta.) It later progressed to more important issues, such as what type of centerpieces to have on the tables at the 1973 BLANDXFest. In line with SODS' primary covenant "If you don't play by our rules, get out of our sandbox before we kick sand in your eyes!" Sven was drummed out of SODS at a secret ceremony in late 1974. His Secret SODS DX Decoder Ring was confiscated at that time. Bill Rumbley and the others still maintain that Sven would never be invited to play in their sandbox again because, Who wants to play with someone who would prefer magenta to lavender? Or was it lavender to magenta? Anyway, we think he has a foot odor problem.

To prove that history does repeat itself, along came Rick Robles in the 1980s. Like Sven, Rick was a member of SODS with his own secret SODS decoder ring for several years before falling into disfavor. After Rick's attempted coup in 1998, several of his associates in OldFartDXers were purged. (They were literally purged - each one was strapped to a R390A receiver and given a jalapeño laced enema.) What especially irks Rumbley and company is that Rick claimed to have lost his Secret SODS DX Decoder Ring.

Some liken the OldFartDXers to the followers of Dr. Gene Scott. Probably that's because most of them are also followers of Dr. Gene Scott. Their proudest accomplishment is having a group photo taken with everyone wearing an I Hate Sven" T-shirt.

Dan Muir

Dan Muir is known for having taken the DX Squabble to new heights. In the 1980s, he spent several years visiting Latin American radio stations in order to destroy reception reports from DXers he didn't like before the stations had a chance to verify them. He apparently was successful, as not one Latin American QSL was reported to a North American DX bulletin between April 1986 to August 1989.

When given a chance, Dan likes to expound on the perceived evil policies of SODS from the 1970s. Although not a member of SODS during that period, Dan was later invited to join SODS and has a deep guilt complex over this. His guilt is complicated by the fact that SODS only admitted him as a way to get him to stop burning their reception reports at Peruvian radio stations.

Dan first traveled to Latin America in 1983, when he went to Costa Rica to serve as a fashion advisor for Eden Pastora's contras. It's not known what he put in his refried beans, but his mind hasn't been the same since.

Some liken Dan Muir to the Pope. He likes to dress like the Pope on his Latin American travels because he often gets free meals and lodging that way. His proudest accomplishment is having passed pencil-sized worms on several occasions.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, petty squabbles and bickering is one of our proudest traditions in the DX hobby. Now, I hate to disillusion you, but there are some who don't believe in this. In 1991, the two major figures in the history of BLANDX had a testosterene-driven knock-down drag-it-out childish squabble. Just the kind of thing that this hobby thrives on! Unfortunately, they have put aside their differances and agreed to work together to produce a better BLANDX. Isn't that sickening? I bet they even hold hands with girls! Yuk! Don't let that kind of thing happen to you! Get in a DX Squabble today!