[AMRadio] License Classes, Dumbing Down, etc.

Michael D. Harmon mharmon at att.net
Tue Nov 25 13:10:33 EST 2008

I'm a newcomer to the AM group, but not to ham radio.  I first became 
interested in ham radio back in 1962, when I was a mere kid of 13.  My 
dad had an old Crosley multi-band table radio, to which I hooked a piece 
of doorbell wire going out the window and over to a tree in our 
backyard.  I'd listen to all the AM ops, but couldn't understand why 
some of the stations sounded like Donald Duck and were totally 
unintelligible.  I remember a guy named Conrad, W4EBG in Paducah KY 
constantly grousing about the "sideband scum" on "his" frequency.  
Finally I realized that my Disney stations were the source of his disgust.

In 1969 I was in electronics classes and made the trip to the Kansas 
City FCC office where I passed my tests for First Phone and Ship Radar.  
I got my Novice in 1968, my Tech in 1973, my Advanced in 1987, and my 
Extra in 2000.  I never liked my old Novice call (WN0WML).  It was 
laborious to send on CW and a tongue twister on SSB.  My Tech call was 
WB0LDJ, and it wasn't too bad on CW (kinda had a nice rhythm to it) and 
was much better on voice (although other stations are always getting it 
confused with that former president from Texas).

I briefly considered changing to an Extra call when I passed the test, 
but decided that none of my friends would recognize me on the air, and I 
wasn't interested in trying to impress anyone.  I've had LDJ now for 35 
years, and I guess I'll keep it.  I chuckle sometimes at the CB-ers who 
upgrade and get an Extra call right off the bat, but I don't hold it 
against them.  I sort of compare them to my 36-year old stepdaughter who 
funds her "keep-up-with-all-the-yuppie-friends" lifestyle with multiple 
maxed-out credit cards.  The way I look at it is that the newcomers are 
going to be the future of ham radio, whether we oldtimers like it or 
not, and if not for them, I'm afraid all the commercial interests and 
spectrum auctions  will eventually take over our bands.  I wish them all 
the best.

Mike, WB0LDJ

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