CELL PHONE - Years before the cell phone was in common usage, I frequently called Paul from my car on my way home from work in Dallas by Amateur Radio
Select a passage of Morse Code below; listen and translate!
The Creek! (5 wpm)
The Pelican! (7 wpm)
The Secret! (11 wpm)
The Three Strings! (13 wpm)
I passed the exam for my first Amateur Radio License early in my third year of High School. Below is a picture of my Ham Shack taken during my senior year. I was living in Indiana and my call was K9BCX.
In the above picture can be seen an old Hallicrafters SX-100 Receiver at the right with my hand on it. To the left is a Globe Scout (10 meter through 160 meter) AM transmitter with a power input to the final of less than 100 watts. To the left of the transmitter can be seen a VFO, and in front of these two items, a telegraph key. A simpson-260 multimeter, a JT30 microphone and an old RCA 45 record player rest on top of some of the items in the picture.
Click here to see what a Novice Class Amateur Radio License of the mid 50's looked like.
These days in Texas I operate in the 2 meter band on a hand held Realistic HTX-202 Transceiver. My call is N5IKE. I am a member of the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association Amateur Radio Club - W5SJZ.
According to my father my first experiment in Electronics took place before I learned to walk. It seems I inserted a hairpin into a wall electrical socket.
During my Grade School years I built a lot of Crystal Radios because Vacuum Tube radios were relatively expensive then.
My step-brother David and I were required to be in bed with the lights off at 10:00 p.m. if we were going to attend school the next day. We had a kind of ceremony at our house near the dreaded ten o'clock hour. My brother and I would be in our twin beds (with a headphone from my crystal radio tucked into each of our pillow cases) and just as 10:00 p.m. approached, dad would open the door, turn around to my step-mom, and wisper "sound asleep" and then they would go into the kitchen and turn on the vacuum tube radio very quietly. And the whole house would listen to a fascinating (fifteen minute) old time radio serial called "I love a mystery".
During my college days, Radio Stations Broadcasting with powers at or in excess of a thousand watts, with directional antenna systems, required a First Class Radiotelephone Operator to be on duty at the transmitter during the hours of the stations operation. During the summer, after my second year of college, I obtained the license and worked for WAZY until the end of my University Experience. For the most part, it was a paid study hall, my duties consisting of reading several meters each half hour and recording them in the log.
It was only on Sunday Mornings that I had to really work. The boss offered to the religious community, free of charge, what he called the inter-faith hour. I called it the church of the month club. Before the beginning of each new month, I would contact the clergyman of a different church in town. He would show me where the microphones should be located, where the cables should be strung, where the telephone company had installed the special phone line, and where I was to sit. Sometimes in the choir loft, sometimes in the first pew, and sometimes at the foot of the organ. Then for a month I would report for the Sunday service, set up the mikes and cables, and remote unit and monitor the link to the studio. An 11:00 a.m. service would be transmitted live. A 10:00 a.m. service would be taped and replayed at 11:00 a.m. I usually performed my Sunday morning duties flawlessly.
One morning I awoke to the ring of the telephone and the voice of the announcer at the studio saying: "Morgan, where are you? The service begins in ten minutes and you have not even been down here to pick up the remote, mikes and cables." "The service will be tape delayed and I know the minister so I will call him and have him stall. Get down here quick."
I put on some threads fast, and was down at the studio in no time, untangled all of the microphone cables that everyone just leaves in a jumble, loaded my car, and arrived at the church at about 10:15 a.m. Of course, there was no place nearby to park. Why would there be? Everybody was in church waiting for me. They had been for fifteen minutes. So I dragged the big microphone stands and remote bag about a block, entering the church twenty minutes after the hour as the clergyman was saying to a full house: "WAZY promises this will never happen again."
After the service was concluded, the clergyman walked up to me, extended his hand and said: "Well, after all we do preach a message of forgiveness."
The station was a new one and during the first few years of operation, the studio was located downtown. The transmitter was in a small building in the country, a few miles from town alongside the antennas. Since the station did not operate at night, the four times each year that we dismantled almost everything at the studio, cleaned it and reassembled was during the wee hours of the morning.
The first time that happened, I parked my car downtown, in front of the studio, along with many other cars. After finishing our work it was 4:30 a.m. I was as tired as a Bear just out of hibernation. When I got to my car I noticed a parking ticket. The offence: parking on a paved street in the downtown area between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. The ticket read: "Bring this to the Police Station immediately and pay the fine." When I arrived at about 4:45 a.m. the dispatcher, the only person present, suggested that I ought to return during the daylight hours when someone was there.
One beautiful Saturday morning, while on duty at the transmitter, I felt a little tired and decided to rest for a short time on a cot that we kept behind the transmitter. I had just taken the log at the hour and reclined on the cot with my glasses resting on my chest. My next thought was: "I think I must have fallen asleep and the front door is open." I put my spectacles back on and stood up. There was a man standing at the foot of the cot. Yes he was a federal inspector. He extended his hand as he said: "Hi! I am from the Federal Communications Commission." I shook his hand all the while trying to take a nonchalant look at my watch while my heart seemed to be beating so fast it would burst. I noticed it was at the half hour. I said: "You don't mind if I take the log do you?" I guess he must have noticed that the log was filled out at the hour and now, at the half hour, it was to be taken again. He apparently was satisfied because in the official report no mention was made of a sentry asleep at his post.
Eventually, the boss relocated the studio out in the country alongside the transmitter. That meant that I really had to work occasionally. Most of the station's programs were simulcast, but on days of the Cardinal Baseball Games they were carried on F.M. while music was carried on the A.M. facilities. It was my duty to sit in studio B, and listen carefully to audio cues given by Harry Carey of the Cardinal Baseball Network. When he said: "Its the top of the fourth or something like that, I was supposed to look at our program log sheet to see if I were supposed to let the network commercial play or push a tape button to issue one of our own.
I was not too good at this and often missed my cue. About five minutes later, the program director would come into my studio and say: "Morgan, I just heard the strangest thing on the air, a Bush Beer commercial. Do you know that you can't buy Bush Beer within 100 miles of this town?"
One day, while the station owner and program director were at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting, a very disgruntled announcer, who had been looking for employment elsewhere, came out to the tramsmitter hut and asked me to locate some "records crossed out by the program director and especially Rock and Roll records."
Out station played easy listening music - absolutely no rock and roll. In fact, brass was banned. I looked around and found Surf'n'bird, a very raucous rock record with a bunch of loud gurgling sounds. If you have ever heard it you know what I mean.
The next day that I was on duty, the program director said to me: "and Morgan, when I heard that he had played Surf'n'bird, I fired him on the spot."
Several weeks later, shortly after I graduated from Purdue and was getting ready to move on, the program director, who had a daily program of his own, was introducing a Kingston Trio record in Studio A. I was in Studio B and re-routed Surf'n'bird to the air waves. Then I walked into studio A, picked up my paycheck and said my goodbye.
I hope there is a statute of limitations for pranks carried out at Broadcast Stations.
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