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Old 7th Dec 2017, 4:07 pm   #31
David G4EBT
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 3,334
Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

I'm not a member of Radiophile, and have only been to two auctions at Cowbit, which is like going to the dark side of the moon, but many years ago we lived in Spalding and are still in touch with friends and former neighbours there, so were able to make the journey worthwhile on two counts. After I visited Cowbit in Spring 2012, elsewhere I posted the following on 24 Sept 2012. It was intended as objective, rather than critical. It looked OK to me at the time and still does (only more so), but I've since learned that it wasn't at all well received in some quarters:


I don't take Radiophile - only Radio Bygones and BVWS Bulletin, but I wonder how much longer Chas Miller can go on with it? He's a lovely guy and I still have my autographed copy of his 'Practical Handbook of Valve Radio Repair' from 1983. He's into his 80s now and I wonder for how much longer he'll be able and willing to continue producing Radiophoile, and if there is anyone in the wings who might continue it if Chas 'retires'?

I had a chat with Chas at the Cowbit Radiophile Auction some months ago. I was curious as to why he travels from his home almost on the Welsh border, right across to Cowbit in the back of beyond on the outskirts of Spalding, towing his caravan, when he could find a venue much closer to home. He explained that he likes visiting old rural churches, was at Cowbit Church many years ago, and got into discussions about the Church Hall and thought it would make a good venue, which it does, but the old adage 'location, location, location' went out of the window, though it all makes sense to Chas!

Objectively, such an event should surely be near centres of high population density such as the east or west Midlands. That said, it's very well attended, (including, from my point of view, by several unwelcome speculators rather than genuine restorers, hoovering up whole heaps of valves etc, no doubt to end up on e-bay the next day. I find that rather unseemly but a fact of life and I dare say the sellers are happy as they shift job lots rather than small lots).

Chas is an inspiration and proof of that old adage 'you're as old as you feel'. The workload that Chas undertakes would be daunting to anyone half his age, which - along with Gerry Wells - makes him a cornerstone of the hobby. Long may it continue - I doubt that either of them would take advice from anyone about easing off on the gas pedal a little! (Do we?).

'Radiophile' IS Chas.

End quote.

(Since I wrote that, Gerry Wells has sadly passed away, and Radio Bygones has ceased publication as a separate entity).

I'm not exactly sure what the aims and objectives of the Radiophile auctions are.

If it's to maximise the number of attendees - whether as sellers or bidders in the auction, or to any 'flea-market' stalls, then the locations chosen - especially Cowbit - will not achieve that objective as they're not near centres of population density or good road communications. If the number of attendees is reduced because of this, then people who might otherwise be willing to help, may not attend either. I doubt that the auctions can in any way be considered a profitable enterprise. Even though BVWS auctions, and events such as NVCF are well organised, well located, well supported, and with no shortage of volunteer helpers, a glance at the annual accounts shows that such events are more of a service to members than a net generator of income.

The most recent accounts (published in Winter 2016 Bulletin) indicated that in the year to December 2015, 'estate sales' (where most lots come from), gross income before operating costs amounted to 42,573, and payments, to 38,303. In 2014, 'estate sales' were 51,138 and payments were 53,960. Taking the two years together, total gross income from estate sales was 93,711 and payments were 92,253 - a gross 'profit' (if that's the right term), of just 1,448 before operating costs. Similarly, there are those who might think the NVCF is a big money spinner for the BVWS. Think again - in 2015 the profit was 2,658, and in 2014, there was a loss of 250.

With some 1,300 members, and a competent committee, BVWS can have a large enough print run to be able to fund four timely issues of the Bulletin per year in full colour. I'm full of admiration for Chas and his loyal band of helpers and subscribers but with a shorter print run and haphazard publication intervals, Radiophile is really up against it to cover operating costs. It seems to me that the Auctions are a distraction which require an inordinate amount of effort for little or no reward - perhaps even a commercial risk involved.

Others may see things quite differently, which is fine - I'm just giving my own perspective as a dispassionate outsider with no axe to grind, and no criticism intended.
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