CARMA 30 year Anniversary

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Dec 14, 2001
Far NW Valley
June 2021 was the 30th anniversary of the Chicago Area Radio Monitoring Association, it was June 1991 that we chose the new name for what had been the Chicago Chapter of the Radio Communications Monitoring Association. We were forced to change the name due to requests from the national organization. What we didn't know at the time was that organization had financial issues that resulted in the failure of RCMA and selling of the membership list to commercial publications, that played a big part in the request to control the RCMA name.

The RCMA-CC Board at the time asked the membership to suggest possible names. Members John Arendt and Will Sperling separately suggested CARMA, several other members had different suggestions. The RCMA-CC Board considered the many suggestions and chose CARMA for several reasons. First off, it was easy on the tongue. Secondly it was perfectly descriptive. Lastly it had a great acronym.

The Chicago Chapter had been around since 1980, in the fall of 1988 was the reorganization that created an RCMA-CC Board and refreshed leadership. The RCMA-CC/CARMA Newsletter remained a printed/mailed one thru the end of 1998 when it was converted entirely to email and eventually supplanted by eGroups/YahooGroups etc.

The first use of CARMA in public came with the June, 1991 Newsletter. In that newsletter we announced the next meeting, held at Old Country Buffet in Downers Grove; $5.22 for all you can eat lunch and that included tax! At the time we were getting 70-80 people at each meeting. Printed newsletters and in-person meetings were the social media of the day, the Internet was not available to mere mortals yet.

Other tidbits from the first edition of the CARMA Newsletter included the announcement of the 1991 edition of Monitor America, the nationwide scanner guide geared towards highway patrol activity.

Also in the summer of 1991:
  • The State Police in Illinois were still primarily operating on Low Band.
  • Ted found a private contractor providing Canine patrols on the CTA which was great listening.
  • State Police District 15 was operating on their 800 linear repeater system.
  • Chevy Caprice "Jetsons" were starting to infiltrate police car fleets around the area.
  • SED-Comm disbanded.
  • Members toured the Aurora FAA Center.
  • A live Sidewinder missile washed up on the beach on the North Shore and ISPERN was used to coordinate the response.
  • The Illinois Department of Conservation radio system was profiled.
  • Two CARMA Picnics were scheduled, one for Field Day in June and the regular one in August.
Today CARMA exists mostly as a forum for members to exchange scanner information via the ioGroups list, Facebook Page and occasional meetings. There is no official club membership other than being approved as a member of one or both of these groups, we have never issued any type of membership credentials, had a treasury etc. We have always been a group of scanner enthusiasts just trying to have fun, share info and play with radios. How we socialized has changed over the years, as have the gear we use to listen but the end goal of sharing has not.

How many of us will be around to witness the 40th anniversary in 2031?
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