“In April 1985 the MARA membership dues were eliminated at the request of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to make membership in MARA less
restrictive. The LDS Church underwrote the cost of publication, some social activities,
some expenses related to holding world conventions, meeting space, and basic equipment
purchases for storehouses.”
“In the MARA Newsletter dated January 1986, Allen Packer – MARA President wrote:
“During the Teton (Idaho) Dam disaster, the Welfare Department of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saint really saw the value, need, and benefits of communications
during an emergency. They saw the service performed by amateur radio operators, many
of whom were amateurs from Utah and Salt Lake City areas. As a result, not long after
the Teton Dam break, several amateurs in the Salt Lake area were approached with the
concept of providing backup communications during emergencies. The limitations of not
being able to handle business or commercial traffic, along with the rules and regulations
governing the amateur radio service were explained. The Welfare Department was
willing to accept the service which amateurs could provide within the constraints of the
amateur operating privileges.
OK, so what does all this information have to do with the title (Just Two Little Words) of
this article? Two interesting words are contained in the FCC regulations embodied as
Part 97 Section 113(a)-3 which reads “No amateur station shall transmit communications
in which the station licensee or control operator has a PECUNIARY INTEREST …”.
This section when combined with the first principle contained in the definition of the
amateur radio service “Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service
to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with
respect to providing emergency communications” created an interesting juxtaposition for
MARA. On May 7, 1990 MARA retained the legal services of Baker and McKenzie of
San Francisco, California to act as an intermediary for MARA to the FCC. The attorneys
described the relationship of MARA and the LDS Church without naming either party.
As previously mentioned earlier in this article the LDS Church provided a small amount
of money and some meeting room space in exchange for developing networks and trained
The reply from the FCC came on May 21, 1990 and contained the following quotes. The
"Facilitator" named is the LDS Church and the "Network" is MARA.
"You pose three questions. First, you ask whether amateur operators would be in
violation of Section 97.113(b) if they accepted funds, building space, computer storage,
and radio equipment from the "Facilitator". You are advised that the amateur stations in
"Network" could not transmit messages for the "Facilitator" as a quid pro quo for the
accepted funds, space, storage, and equipment."
"Second, there is no objection to requiring "Network" members to report their operations
to local officials of "Facilitator" when such officials are volunteers, receive no
remuneration, and are not considered to be employees of "Facilitator".
"Third, the proposal to have certain paid employees of "Facilitator" obtain Novice Class
operator licenses, become members of "Network", and use amateur station transmitters
owned by "Facilitator" for the transmission of messages would, in our judgment, violate
Section 97.113(b) because salaried employees would be receiving material
compensation, that is, a part of their salaries, for the messages transmitted by the
amateur stations."
Signed John B. Johnston, Chief, Personal Radio Branch.
This response from the FCC left the MARA Board of Directors very few options to
prevent legal action against the LDS Church. The decision was made to place some
distance between the two organizations but let each determine, independently, how to
relate to each other. This sudden “divorce” left many MARA members wondering what
had happened. This was most unfortunate, and in hind sight, could have been mitigated
much better. The Church has established an Emergency Response network to assist it in
direct response activities, and in many areas MARA has continued to grow with local and
regional networks.”
The following two items are excerpts taken from a May 12th, 2008 article entitled “Just Two
Little Words” by Dave Christensen, KD7UM. For the full text of the article see