MidCars: A Brief History

The Midwest Amateur Radio Service was founded on January 23, 1968 by Marv Cook, W9WWE and Nick Geer, K9DDT who conceived the idea of a mobile monitoring frequency on the 40 meter band where hams operating mobile would be given priority, could obtain aid and information, and where accidents or other emergency situations could be quickly reported and receive prompt attention. The center of the MidCars logo bore the inscription, "Mobile Communications for Public Service".

For the first year, MidCars operated mainly as a monitoring service where ham radio volunteers monitored 7.258 MHz twelve hours a day from 0800 to 2000 Central Time. The next year when MidCars was formally incorporated, operations became more formalized and Service Control Operators were scheduled to operate a directed daily net on 7.258 MHz that structure continues today.

Early MidCars stationery letterhead lists MidCars as the "Radio Watch of the Midwest for Public Service" and the organization's newsletter was aptly named the "Radio Watch". This was an era before cell phones when hams relied heavily on phone patches and formal traffic nets.

An early MidCars information packet from 1973 carried the following description:

"The Midwest Amateur Radio Service, Inc., more familiarly known as MidCars, is an organization of amateurs banded together to provide communications for a wide range of interests: Mobile monitoring, Public Service communications when the need arises, a monitored frequency where operators may meet their friends and move off to other frequencies to ragchew or pass information or assistance."

MidCars worked closely with its sister services, ECARS (East Coast Amateur Radio Service) and WCARS (West Coast Amateur Radio Service). This close bond was represented on the MidCars membership certificate of the time which also listed "ECARS 7255 MHz" and "WCARS 7255 MHz" and the statement "Hams at Work Across the Nation". The 3 hour time difference allowed them to share the same frequency.

The names EastCars and WestCars sounded like mobile services. The acronym for Midwest Amateur Radio Service was M.W.A.R.S. and those letters appear around the central design on the logo but "MidWars" didn't sound related to the other two services even though it shared the same goal to serve those driving around the country in the cars or mobiles. If for no other reason than to show common purpose with its sister services, MidWars became known as MidCars even though the full name of Midwest Amateur Radio Service never changed. There never was a "Mid Coast ARS" or "Mid Continental ARS". That nickname has continued to be used for the Midwest Amateur Radio Service for over 40 years.

Annual dues in 1973 for membership in MidCars was $5.00 which brought each member an attractive membership certificate, membership card, a 4 color decal for their car, an Operations Manual, and a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws. The official publication, the "Radio Watch" was sent via First Class Mail monthly to each member. Every year members elected by secret ballot a President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and two Directors. In addition to on-the-air operations, some of the highlight activities included an Annual Picnic, the MidCars meeting at the Dayton Hamvention and the MidCars hospitality suite at Imperial House North in Dayton during the week of Hamvention.

Activity on MidCars continued to grow in the late 1970s and operations were expanded to include an evening MidCars net that operated on 3903 KHz on 75 Meters.

MidCars went through a reorganization in 1991 which affected primarily the administration of MidCars and the method of selecting its officers. MidCars continues to operate daily as a directed net giving priority recognition to mobiles while welcoming all licensed amateurs whether they be fixed, mobile, or portable to check in and join in on the fun.

Additional information about early MidCars including pages from the "Radio Watch" will be posted on this site in the near future.

Special thanks to Dr. Frank Adams, W8LRO, 1977 MidCars President for his assistance in providing the historical documents used to research the above article.