Today I received an unusually addressed service message that indicates that some NTS participants don’t completely understand how service messages work. For those who are unaware, a “service message” is a radiogram about a radiogram. We send service messages when radiograms’ handling instructions request them and when we are unable to deliver or relay someone else’s radiogram.
Although the service message described what happened to a message I originated, the service message was addressed to someone other than me.
The situation surrounding the original radiogram was somewhat unusual, but certainly not unheard of. To protect the names of those involved, I’m going to fictionalize the examples below. Here’s what my original message looked like:
NR 100 R W9LW ARL 3 BLUFFTON IN OCT 28
1234 MAIN STREET
SOME TOWN, GA
Notice that the station of origination in the preamble is W9LW but the call sign in the signature is WB9XXX. Why would this happen? Perhaps the signatory ham’s station is off the air, or perhaps he has no privileges on HF net frequencies and no VHF net within range. Regardless, when the signatory contacts the station of origination by any means other than ham radio and requests the sending of a radiogram, the call sign in the signature ends up different than the call sign in the preamble, because the station of origination in the preamble is always the first station to put the message on the air.
A station close to the destination address attempted to deliver the message via phone. The addressee did not reply to his voice mail message, so the operator sent a service message regarding my message number 100, above. Here’s how the service message looked:
NR 500 R WA4XXX ARL 11 SOME TOWN, GA OCT 29
SAM WB9XXX C/O W9LW
(BREAK)ARL SIXTY SEVEN
REPLY TO VOICE MAIL X
In this example, WA4XXX incorrectly addressed the service message to WB9XXX, who was the signatory of my message number 100. WA4XXX should have addressed the service message to W9LW, because W9LW was the station of origination in the preamble of message number 100.
If you ever handle a message in which the call sign in the preamble is different than the call sign in the signature, remember that any service message should be addressed to the station in the preamble, not the station in the signature.