*EDITORIAL* Beware the Band Gator


In a prominent Ham Facebook Group recently, one of the members was labelled an ‘Alligator’ and this caused quite an uproar — not only because the OM in question found the title quite offensive — but also because most of the other forum users didn’t understand the meaning of the word and/or how it’s applied in radio comms.

In the wild, we know Alligators as menacing predators; enormous, reptilians who prowl freshwater swamps, marshes and lakes in the US and China where they occasionally attack unsuspecting humans.

Essentially, these nasty creatures disguise themselves by submerging themselves in the water, with only their eyes peeping above the surface, where they typically wait for something unsuspecting to swim or walk by and then lunge at it with all the power of a Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine.


To the point of this DA-RC editorial now and Alligators also exist in ham and 11m radio comms and here they’re equally treacherous.

Not so much for their ability to ambush DX and/or tear flesh from the bone of a keen DX Adventurer, either, but something else, more annoying than it is intimidating

In our hobby, ‘Alligators’ are big stations who threaten something far more precious to the average hobbyist — time — and this, I believe, was at the core of the recent Facebook banter!

That is, time wasted calling them, OVER and OVER and OVER again; and sadly getting no response — even though their audio is smashing the signal meter.

Hence the title “Alligator” because, like an alligator, this sort of operator has a big mouth and no ears.

In radio comms, then, an Alligator can be defined as “a station whose signal is loud yet they’re incapable of hearing faint stations…”

In other words, they transmit further than they can receive.

DA-RC members whom inhabit both worlds will concur that ‘Chompers’ are more common on ham bands rather than 11m, where the power continuum is so extreme and the presence of multiband wire antennas, energised by massive amps, is in plague like proportions.

Alligators, furthermore, are more likely sighted around ham contest time — when the power is cranked up to the max.

Here, they’re more likely to work other reptilians.


The best advice, when attempting to work an Alligator, is not to feel disheartened if they can’t hear you or they don’t respond — it’s more a reflection of their station and their capacity to RX and NOT yours.

Of course, if the ‘Leatherhead’ is essential for your log sheet then, by all means, stay and be patient for the contact.

If it’s not needed, however, then save time and move on to others who may have better ears — even if they’re at the weaker end of the scale.

And as for members of the Ham Facebook Group where the Alligator slur was recently unleashed, remember this famous saying, “Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river!”

Whatever that means?!?!?!

73 de Darren, 43DA001