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Clubs, Groups and Societies For discussions about various clubs, groups and societies relating to our hobbies, such as the BVWS (incl NVCF), BATC, RSGB, APTS, CLPGS, THG, TCC etc. This is NOT an official forum for any of these organisations.

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Old 5th Dec 2017, 11:50 am   #21
stitch1
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

I don't know Chas (although I have chatted on the phone, buying something not complaining) but reading this and his notes I do worry about his health. I've never been able to attend an auction (they're just to far although they are further north than the BVWS ones) but it sounds like they're more bother than they are worth so maybe it's time to stop them.

I enjoy the Magazine but I'm not sure £25 for 3 issues is value for money and when you're paying for a service you expect some predictability but a week or 2 leeway would be acceptable and is part of the charm.

My subscription ends at 141. I'm undecided but will probably go for the cheaper PDF option, presumably this is less hassle and more profit.

So I'd be happy to see the auctions sacrificed for the magazine.

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Old 5th Dec 2017, 11:58 am   #22
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

The PDF has a profit margin much closer to what I personally would deem as sensible, but of course many people still want the print issues. With electronics and computer magazines in the newsagents costing £6, £7 or more these days (and subsidised by lots of adverts), I still think the print magazine price is actually pretty good.

With respect to the service aspect, again I would reiterate that the magazine has never been sold as having fixed publication dates - the subscription is sold as number of issues, so every subscriber gets what they paid for. If you want a regular magazine delivery, then The Radiophile is simply not suitable for you.

With respect to the auctions, it would be a shame to see them go, but unless things change I suspect that this will eventually happen. At that time of course, the (small) income they bring in will also cease, and I can't see a realistic prospect of Chas being able to maintain the current price thereafter (though I'm sure he would try!)
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 12:33 pm   #23
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Hi Graham. I think there is more awareness re the unique nature of The Radiophile since you persuaded Chas to have an internet presence and that's all to the good. I've commented several times over the years that delays in publication are an aspect of the magazine that long term subscribers have always tolerated and accepted with good humour particularly as the owner always took great trouble to explain the various technical, health, vehicle and domestic problems that often seemed to conspire against him! Disaster was s almost a given in a way but as you say, it's not like the Radio Times

I'm sorry I can't help with any of the difficulties outlined. Despite being based in the North my perapatetic life style militates against this and even attending a lot of events but I thank you for taking the time to explain things. I will be even more grateful to get the next issue now

Best Wishes for the season to you and all the Radiophile "elves" .

Dave

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Old 5th Dec 2017, 8:20 pm   #24
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

What was the last magazine number 140? As I am confused I have 2 address labels both saying mine ends with different numbers.

I have taken RadioPhile since day 1 when it was RadioGram? if it takes longer to arrive then other mags so be it, the wait is worth it.

Chas has had a few health issues over the years I am aware, so it all needs to be taken into consideration in fairness.
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 8:25 pm   #25
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Issue 140 is the last issue - 141 is imminent, the address labels went to Chas today.

If you have any subscription issues or queries, I can normally answer / resolve them pretty quickly - just send me an email (through the website preferably, or by PM here. Just be sure to give me enough details to find you!
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 9:21 pm   #26
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Thank you Graham, will do.
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Old 6th Dec 2017, 11:42 pm   #27
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

i know Philip (see post #1) quite well. He confirmed the story of the aftermath of the July auction on the telephone a few minutes ago. I was not thrilled to hear it. The British Library catalogue shows the author of "Practical handbook of valve radio repair" and other books as being Charles Edward Miller, born in 1931. Assuming that this is correct, Chas is in his mid 80's. Philip is not too far behind and all of that work would certainly have taken it out of him.

Regarding set-up day, the available help has to be local, unless those who travel are going to stay overnight in a B&B. That decreases the pool of those who might be able to help.

Regarding cleaning up after the auction, I would have chair racks (if used) staged at the end of the auction and ask that everybody take their chair to the rack or storage area. Many hands make light work. Unless the process is completely foolproof, somebody should over see it. Otherwise somebody will have a miserable time sorting it out afterwards.

I understand that there are 600 lots in Sunday's auction, and plans for another at the end of January.

73 John
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 1:26 am   #28
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

The October auction was a better organised affair. I got to Gnosall early on the Saturday and Chas & Jo arrived some time later. Others arrived and the trailer load was soon being sorted and put on tables. I had not appreciated that the lots would all be ready numbered and labeled, That must involve a lot of prior work we don't see.

Portering 3 handed went well, I managed to mix 2 lots but that was soon sorted, 400+ lots straight through without a break.

Clearing up was delayed somewhat by a few buyers being a bit tardy in clearing their lots but all seemed to have been claimed. Within an hour or so the tables were folded and moved out on the trolleys, Phillip did a sterling sweep up job, Chas and co had the paperwork squared away and we could all go home.

The only heavy part is actually moving tables and lots around, Son of Chas (sorry not familiar with his name) probably has the hardest job loading the trailer twice to bring the lots into the hall, I suspect that he gets little help. The kitchen kept up well well with demand for refreshments.

As far as local help, I would doubt that there are many interested parties nearby, Gnosall is quite rural, so yes, if anyone wanted to help on both days it makes a night in a B&B almost essential.
None of us is getting any younger and Chas & Jo must be considering an easier life, it needs someone to take over running the show with Chas' guidance but Chas will have to accept that not everyone does things his way, a essential lesson I learnt long ago.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 7:57 am   #29
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Iíve never been to a Radiophile auction as they are a fair distance away from me, but I am a subscriber. I was under the impression that a regular contributor to the magazine was going to take over the running of the auctions.

Iím assuming, from the fact that said contributor has now fallen silent, that this arrangement did not pan out to Chasís expections. This is a shame. I guess sometimes, you need to let go. New people have new ideas, and any transitions can require a settling in time.

I donít know the details about this arrangement, but maybe itís a good opportunity missed....


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Old 7th Dec 2017, 8:38 am   #30
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Simon - the full story is too long for here, but you are, in essence, correct. The problem is that too many changes happened simultaneously, and there were a lot of complaints from both buyers and sellers. In addition, the paperwork left something to be desired.

I did try and mediate between both parties as I still feel that the idea of someone taking over, even if just a bit at a time, would be a good thing, but unfortunately I couldn't really get a conversation going with the person involved and he subsequently told me he was too busy to take things further.

Chas is fairly set in his ways, it is true. But he does listen, and will accept advice provided it is limited and measured - for example the website, facebook presence, pdf magazines and catalogues etc. What he won't accept (and rightly so in my opinion) is massive changes to the way he has been doing things for years without prior consultation and well thought our reasoning as to why the change is needed.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 4:07 pm   #31
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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:

Quote:

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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Old 7th Dec 2017, 4:44 pm   #32
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

I think, David, that you may have misunderstood Chas's motive in publishing the Radiophile and running the auctions. They are not profit centres - indeed I suspect Chas runs at a nett loss most years, and certainly will for the next few years with the Radio Bygones takeover. Taken together, the magazine, auctions, and teaching workshops bring in a (very) small income in a good year, and a loss in a bad one.

As Chas has already said in his open letter, the auctions are already in the potential firing line due to the work involved. With too little income to pay people to help, the only alternatives are to get volunteer helpers or to close. I know Chas was very grateful for help given at the last auction and that has certainly put off the day of reckoning for a while - but we'll have to see what transpires over the next few auctions.

Chas does it because he enjoys it, believes he is offering a service that is wanted by vintage radio enthusiasts, and because who else would do it if he didn't? I doubt there are enough potential subscribers to ever really look at a decent profit, and Chas won't compromise on print quality or any other obvious way to cut costs (except the pdf subscriptions which he has recently agreed to offer).

The reasons for Gnosall and Cowbit are simply that the costs for the halls are low and that Gnosall is near Chas and Cowbit is near where he goes on holiday. To move venues would increase costs and add even more work - not a viable move as things stand. It is also unlikely that auctions in other areas would bring in sufficiently more bidders anyway as they are very limited in appeal except to enthusiasts and collectors who tend to be spread out over the country anyway.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 5:24 pm   #33
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Thanks for your response Graham.

I wasn't so much thinking about profit as such, but balancing the books on such events, otherwise an inordinate amount of effort goes into it, only to be out of pocket. Chas has certainly been in it for the 'long haul' and it clearly hasn't been a chore for him to support the hobby for decades, to the benefit of many. As to print quality, I recall back in the 80s, before we had the benefit of computers, and typewriters were the order of the day, the forerunner of 'Radiophile' comprised several pages of typewritten sheets with hand-drawn sketches, run off on a duplicator and stapled together. The same can be said for the BVWS Bulletin, now in its 41st year.

Every good wish to all involved - I'm sure the thread will have given food for thought.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 6:15 pm   #34
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

If Chas joined the forum, he could tell us all himself exactly what the problems are, the underlying reasons and discuss possible solutions...
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 6:45 pm   #35
GrahamN
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Chas doesn't use the internet at all.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 9:11 pm   #36
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Thanks for your reply, Graham.

I donít know either party personally, so Iím unable to form an opinion based on anything other than what Iíve read or heard. I understand that these things can be very awkward, especially when neither party is prepared to give ground and when stubbornness seems to run roughshod over any sensible solution.

It seems a Godsend that you are able to help out now, otherwise I think the Radiophile may have ceased already. The pertinent question that needs to be answered is, how does Chas see the future of his creation? Is he happy that the Radiophile will pass with him, or would he wish it to continue under the direction of another experienced radio enthusiast?

The incorporation of Radio Bygones into the Radiophile, to me, seems barmy! How can Chas even contemplate tackling more work when he canít publish his principle title regularly? I think he really needs to be honest with himself, his family, and his subscribers.

If it were me, I would cease the auctions until someone else was prepared to take it on, and, if necessary, jettison the additional Radio Bygones workload.

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Old 7th Dec 2017, 11:05 pm   #37
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Regarding auction setting up, the BVWS book the RWB hall on Saturday evening for setting up, rather than having to do it all on Sunday morning. RWB is close enough to the BVWS store to allow two trips with the van if required.

Several years ago we could do it all in one day but the committee and volunteers aren't getting any younger either.

I don't know whether this is viable for Chas at either location, but it would certainly make the day less tiring, and could probably allow an earlier auction start (and thus and earlier finish) too. Obviously there is extra hall hire cost.

Mike does all the lot sorting and cataloguing (and photos for RWB) which is a lot of work in the week before.

The BVWS always struggle to get new volunteers too. I suspect the same is true in any similar collectors group.

I admire Chas for continuing this for so many years and at his age. Although it is not run as a not-for-profit group, it clearly isn't making a profit or steady income so must be a labour of love. Hopefully as a result of this discussion and the magazine message he will get some more support to enable it to continue.

BVWS volunteers get free entry and free breakfast. Maybe Chas could offer something similar, such as free membership to the auction catalogue service.

Regarding catalogues, BVWS ones are free (online only) as they are a good advertisement for the auctions. People are more likely to attend if they know what interesting lots are available. For Chas the catalogue service obviously helps fund the auctions, however it could be good to show and list some of the best lots online to tempt potential new attendees.

Note that although I am on the BVWS committee, these are my own comments, not BVWS comments.
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Old 7th Dec 2017, 11:33 pm   #38
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Stenning View Post
People are more likely to attend if they know what interesting lots are available. For Chas the catalogue service obviously helps fund the auctions, however it could be good to show and list some of the best lots online to tempt potential new attendees.
I agree very much with this. Although I've been to a few Radiophile auctions, I've passed on more, not knowing what the quality of the lots is likely to be on any particular occasion, and thus uncertain as to the merit in attending. It appears that the charge for auction catalogues provides part of the funding for Radiophile, but it's pretty common these days for such catalogues to be readily available online, to attract auction attendees.

Not my business, so not my say, just a thought.

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Old 8th Dec 2017, 12:51 am   #39
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Default Re: Radiophile Auction - The future

Hi Paul, the Radiophile auction is set up on Saturday morning for the Sunday sale, so its 2 days work.
Hence a helper needs to be 'round the corner' or its a night in the B&B, which is not exactly local either.
I can understand the lack of volunteers.
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Old 8th Dec 2017, 10:18 am   #40
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I have in the past uploaded details of auction lots - particularly rare valves etc., but the overall attendance of the auction really didn't change, and it is difficult to get Chas to agree to changes without being able to demonstrate improvements. The other difficulty is that catalogues are rarely done more than a few days before the auction (probably mainly because Chas is doing all the work for these) and the priority is then getting out catalogues to subscribers.

I did suggest a few years ago that catalogues (or parts thereof) could be given free on the website, but the revenue lost from subscribers then non renewing is unlikely to be matched by increased attendance, so again isn't really viable.

The 'Auction Manager' idea was probably the best way forward, but after the problems the last time this was tried, I'm not sure that Chas would be happy to try again.

I believe helpers get free admission, and I'm pretty sure that regular helpers get free catalogues (though I don't pretend to understand Chas's system of who gets what!), but I understand the catering is done by a third-party, so again the cost of such concessions comes into the equation. It would be all right if each auction made a few thousand pounds, but when they are such low margin operations every penny counts!
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