Amateur Radio

Radio Club of America

Jack Daniel (KD6YVL) sponsored my membership in the Radio Club of America in 1984. I have attended many Anniversary Dinner & Awards Presentations at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan and RCA breakfast and dinner meetings. As chairman of the Public Relations Committee, I sent RCA press releases to news outlets nationwide.
  • 1988 elevated to status of Fellow; delivered 'Fellows banquet speech'
  • 1990–1993; 1995–1998; and 2008, member of board of directors
  • 1991 received life membership
  • 1992 guest speaker at RCA breakfast meeting, San Francisco
  • 1993–1998 editor, Proceedings of the Radio Club of America
  • 1993 received President's Award
  • 2002 guest speaker at RCA breakfast meeting, Las Vegas
  • 2006-2008 Public Relations Committee chairman

Denver Radio Club

When I was a teenager living in Boulder, Colorado, I visited meetings of the Denver Radio Club. Years later, when I moved to Denver, I joined the club and enjoyed associating with Lys Carey (K0PGM-SK), Virginia Carey (N0MUT-SK), Marshall Quiat (AG0X-SK), Dave Baysinger (WG0N), Ron Franklin (WB0HWP), Gil Mattox (W0GBM) and many others. Marshall and Gil recruited me to edit the club bulletin, which started me toward a career in publishing.
The Denver Radio Club offered me several opportunities to serve:
     ·  secretary
     ·  treasurer
     ·  vice president
     ·  editor, Roundtable club bulletin for two-and-a-half years

Quarter Century Wireless Association

In 1992, retired USMC General Leland Smith (W5KL-SK) invited me to join the Quarter Century Wireless Association. Leland and I at the time were RCA directors. How could I say no to a general? Actually, I was delighted to join—I remembered reading about QCWA when I was a new radio amateur in 1966, and how membership was restricted to those who had been licensed at least 25 years before joining. At the time, I anticipated the day I could qualify. When the time came, I joined as a life member.

American Radio Relay League

I joined ARRL in 1965 as a newly licensed radio amateur. I took the Novice and Technician class exams at the same time in case I might not pass the General class exam before my Novice license expired in one year. Having a 5-year Technician license guaranteed I would keep my initial call sign. How quickly I surrendered it years later for a 'preferred' call sign! My membership lapsed, and I rejoined as a life member in 1974.

Since passing the Novice license test when I was in junior high school, I have operated amateur radio stations from various home locations in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Kansas. Jim Snyder (W0UR) taught the license class I attended. In those early days when we all lived in Boulder, Colorado, my high school buddies Don Ferguson (K8XR) and Bill Engelman (WA0OUC) and I spent time on the air together and set up portable stations for ARRL Field Day.

I also operated mobile stations for many years, thanks to John Beale (KD0U), who got me interested in mobile operating and who installed high-powered equipment and an antenna for one of my first mobile stations.

My interest in radio these days is mostly satisfied by writing about wireless communications and editing publications involving radio and towers.

Gil Mattox W0GBMMarshall Quiat AG0X

Amateur radio played a part in my finding work in the publishing industry. Gil Mattox (W0GBM) and Marshall Quiat (AG0X-SK) recruited me to edit the bulletin of the Denver Radio Club, the Round Table.

Jim Fahnestock (W0OA-SK), a founder of Wiesner Publishing and its editorial director, saw an example of my work when Nancy Davis (KA0PNG) reprinted it the bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Radio League, QRZ. Jim was a member of RMRL.

In 1983, Jim hired me as a senior editor for his company's Mobile Radio Technology magazine. He and his partner, Pat Wiesner, later sold the magazine, and I moved with it to the new owner, a company in Overland Park, Kansas.

I was the editorial director of Mobile Radio Technology, RF Design and Site Management & Technology magazines until November 2002. My assignments included seven other magazines, the conference planning for two trade shows and the content of several Web sites during my combined 19-1/2 years with the two owners.

Currently, I am the executive editor and associate publisher at Biby Publishing where I work on AGL (Above Ground Level) magazine, which covers the telecommunications tower and rooftop antenna site industry. Rich Biby, P.E. (N3UW) is the CEO and publisher.

I previously worked in broadcasting, mostly on the air as a disk jockey and talk show host, but also as a program director and general manager. I was the chief executive officer and general manager of Vir James, P.C., a broadcast engineering consulting company. I worked for the firm’s owners, Timothy Cutforth, P.E. (WA0MGJ) and his wife Virginia, just before joining Wiesner Publishing. Tim and I knew each other at Colorado State University, and we worked at several broadcast stations together in the following years.

I am a lifetime Fellow of the Radio Club of America (RCA), a life member of the American Radio Relay League and the Quarter Century Wireless Association, and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. I was a member of the RCA board of directors for eight years and was editor of the RCA magazine, Proceedings of the Radio Club of America, for six years.

At various times, I was treasurer, secretary and vice president of the Denver Radio Club, and I was the editor of the club bulletin, the Roundtable, for three years.

I have been a speaker and emcee at meetings of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Small Business in Telecommunications, International Wireless Communications Expo, Tower Summit and Radio Club of America.

Radio has been a common thread in almost all the work I’ve done since high school. Amateur radio has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m pleased whenever I can help others make progress, whether in the hobby or in the wireless communications industry.


Karl Dreher (SK) was the original holder of W0WO, and before that 9WO. Karl’s shack was at 2062 Eudora Street in Denver, Colorado. I sometimes talked with him over the air on 40-meter SSB, especially on nights when the propagation was too long for us to hear stations outside our local area. I always admired the W0WO call sign, so after he passed away, I applied for it.

After I was assigned the call, I heard from Karl's nephew, Doug Stuard, KM4FI, who said he operated a few times from his uncle's home. Doug said Karl spoke of handling traffic for Admiral Byrd on one of his Arctic expeditions.


My first introduction to amateur radio didn't take. When I was about eight years old, I joined the Cub Scouts. The Scouts had a merit badge involving radio. I must have asked about it, because I remember having a copy of "How to Become a Radio Amateur" published by ARRL about that time. I didn't understand it, and that was that.

My father encouraged me to work part-time delivering newspapers. I signed up with the Denver Post. That was a secondary newspaper in Boulder, Colorado, where the Boulder Daily Camera was the local paper. As a result, Denver Post carriers were required to solicit new subscribers. Once or twice a month, the distributor would take us young newspaper carriers in his pickup truck into Boulder neighborhoods where we would go door-to-door, asking residents to subscribe.

The newspaper offered products listed in a catalog as premiums or prizes to carriers for subscription sales. I earned enough points to select a number of prizes, from mukluk boots to bicycle accessories and flashlights. One premium I selected was a transistor radio.

I didn't know the radio came with a short wave band, but it did. It had a switch on the front labeled "MW" and "SW." That stands for "medium wave" and "short wave," but I didn't know that at the time. All I knew was that with the switch in MW I could hear the rock 'n' roll radio stations that kids my age listened to. With the switch in "SW," I usually heard nothing at all.

I listened to the radio in the garage while I folded newspapers and put rubber bands around them, preparing to throw them from my bicycle for delivery. Once, I placed the radio near the garage door rail and tried the SW switch again, and when I tuned the radio, I picked up the Voice of America. The metal rail seemed to work as an antenna.

   Phil Irwin's Caledonia Farm Bed and Breakfast, www.bnb1812.com

I remember Philip Irwin was the host of the Voice of America "Breakfast Show," which I heard in the afternoon as it was beamed to some part of the world where it was morning. I later learned he was famous the world over, except perhaps in the United States, where comparatively few listened to short wave.

In 2006, I looked for a reference to him and found that he had opened a bed and breakfast in Flint Hill, Virginia, in 1985. "Your host has visited over 330 bed & breakfasts in North America, many before opening his top-rated B & B in 1985. Owner Phil Irwin delights in sharing the unspoiled open space he discovered back in 1961 and still works to preserve for his future guests. A retired international broadcaster, he still enjoys telling folks where to go ... nicely ... and provides custom maps to the main points of interest in the least developed Virginia county east of the Appalachian Mountains," a description on his Web site read.

More infrequently, I would hear a voice that belonged to someone having a conversation, but I would only hear his half. I learned that he was a radio amateur using AM on the 20-meter short wave band. He lived near Boulder Memorial Hospital. I never met the man, but hearing him having conversations made me remember about radio amateurs from my Cub Scout experience.

I told my father that I wanted to spend some of the money I earned with the paper route to buy a bigger transistor radio with short wave bands on it. I saw some advertised in catalogs. He apparently researched the subject a little bit, because he said maybe instead of a bigger transistor radio, I should buy a "Hallicrafters," a radio designed more specifically for short wave reception.

My father took me to Denver to visit a store, Radio Products Sales Company. A young salesman, John Capone, WA0ADV, sold me not a Hallicrafters, which was too expensive, but a National NC-173 receiver. I paid about $115 for the radio and speaker, as I recall. That was 1962 or 1963. The combination sold new for $190 when it was manufactured in 1948. John, who is slightly older than I, once told me that he hated it when individuals older than he told him they remembered buying radios from him when they were kids. John founded CW Electronics and later sold the business in separate segments for consumer electronics, computers, amateur radio and wholesale distributing. Smart!
               National NC-173