Audio Episode

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Jim Martin: Jim's radio broadcasting career includes both the private sector and the CBC, Canada's national network. During his many years on air he was a reporter, announcer, news director, talk show and news magazine host, and his favorite part, interviewer. For many years he was also the book review and video review editor for Canadian Railway Modeller. More recently he has been writing articles for Railroad Model Craftsman. He also enjoys presenting backdrop painting clinics to local groups and train shows.

Trevor Marshall: Trevor cut his teeth in radio at Standard Broadcast News, a national radio newswire service in Canada. The radio news writing style has served him well in his current profession as a freelance writer for clients in the transportation, life sciences, and government sectors. Trevor's articles for the hobby press have appeared in Model Railroad Planning, Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman and other publications and he regularly presents model and prototype railway clinics on a variety of topics. He finds everything about the hobby interesting, but is particularly interested in the process that goes into a well-thought-out, prototype-based layout.

Chris Abbott is our Technical Director. Jim and Trevor would still be talking to each other without his help.

Otto Vondrak is our Creative Director. That awesome badge and banner on the site? That's his doing.

David Woodhead is our Music Director. If you find yourself humming our theme song, well - you're not alone. Jim and Trevor have had it stuck in their heads for weeks now. Well done, David!

History Lessons

The Model Railway Show

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In this episode…


Peter Cunningham, editor, British Railway Modellers of North America Journal.

Jim Providenza, owner, Santa Cruz Northern and pioneering user of command control systems.



Are kids really the future of model railroading?


With a headline like that, you can guess what our guest thinks.


Modeler and artist Peter Cunningham looks back at his own introduction to the hobby as a boy in the United Kingdom, and compares it to the experience of today’s kids. And he’s forced to conclude that our recruiting efforts are chasing the wrong demographic.


While sharing the hobby with children is important, Peter says when it comes to attracting new hobbyists, we’d do well to remember Deep Throat’s advice to Bob Woodward in All The President’s Men: Follow The Money. In this case, it means we’ll have more success if we pitch our hobby at those in their 30s and 40s – people who have more disposable income and are looking for a hobby and creative outlet that’s worthy of an adult’s attention. We also need to boost our efforts to make sure what we’re presenting is the very best we can do, to showcase the best the hobby has to offer.


Peter wrote an opinion piece on this that appeared late last year in the Journal, the magazine for members of the British Railway Modellers of North America (BRMNA), and he joins Jim to discuss his thoughts on this important issue.


Related Links:
Peter’s opinion piece from the BRMNA’s Journal (used with permission).
Peter Cunningham’s Virtual Gallery (artist page)
Peter’s art and model railways profiled on CTV’s Regional Contact television program.
Some examples of Peter’s work on our Flickr gallery.
Rod Stewart on Jimmy Kimmel Live (YouTube): Part One / Part Two.



DCC: How far we’ve come


When it comes to running model trains, we’ve never had it so good. Digital Command Control (DCC) decoders can be as small as a thumbnail – yet deliver fantastic locomotive control, sophisticated lighting effects and beautiful sound. And for most of us, programming them has become second nature.


But did you ever wonder how we got from DC to DCC?


If you’ve been collecting back issues of train magazines for a while, you will have come across advertising for early carrier control systems marketed by companies such as Alphatronics. Modeler Jim Providenza embraced those early systems in his quest for sophisticated operations on his HO scale Santa Cruz Northern, and he joins Trevor to describe some of those early experiences.


Related Links:

Photos from Jim Providenza on our Flickr gallery.
The NMRA’s DCC Working Group.
The NMRA’s DCC standards and recommended practices.
The History of Digital Command Control (DCC Wiki).
Lenz DCC.
DecoderPro: the Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI).
The Operations Special Interest Group (OPSIG).
Jim’s layout on VHS: Great Model Railroads v. 35 (Allen Keller video series).