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Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!

from The ARRL Letter on December 17, 2009
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Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!

By ARRL News Editor S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA

For 37 years, Mickey Hicks, WO6T, played Santa Claus to hundreds of children. These children never sat on Santa's lap to tell him that they had been good boys and girls and what they wanted for Christmas. They did it in a much more simple way -- they picked up a microphone and told Santa on the air. Each year, Hicks, a ham for almost 50 years and a long-time Amateur Radio instructor, would get on the air for 10 days each December as W6S (Whiskers-6-Santa). Unfortunately, Hicks became a Silent Key earlier this year.

Hicks said that the first year he operated as W6S was a hit with the operators -- and their children. Most children, he noted, are a bit apprehensive of talking over the radio, let alone to Santa. One of the most challenging parts of operating was when he heard a parent say "This one is shy and won't talk." That was never a problem for Hicks -- after a few warm-up questions, such as "Can you say hello to Rudolph?" -- he said he could strike up a conversation that lasted a few minutes. He had even heard back from parents that they weren't able to get the microphone away from the kids afterward!

Back in 2001, Hicks told the ARRL that his Santa's Workshop was a great ham radio recruiting tool. One of his most memorable experiences was when a young girl he'd once spoken with on the air as Santa came by with her ham ticket in hand to thank him in person for getting her interested in Amateur Radio. "I had tears in my eyes, of course," he said. One of the most enjoyable moments of Hicks' Santa career occurred when he was speaking with a young child and realized he had spoken with their parents and grandparents when they were youngsters!

Mark Slater, WI6J, was Hicks' QSL manager. With the blessing of Hicks' wife, son and daughter-in-law, Slater will carry on the W6S tradition for 2010 and beyond. "Mickey's shoes are so much bigger than I could ever hope to fill," he told the ARRL, "but I know Mickey would have wanted Santa to keep getting on the air and speaking with the children." Slater said you can find him most evenings, as well as the weekend of December 19-20, on 14.270 MHz, Santa's favorite frequency. Santa is a ham -- now you know!


The ARRL Letter

Member Comments:
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Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!  
by KJ4AUR on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A sad time. I remember working Mickey on 17 meters on 18.135 MHz May 22, 2009. Quite a good person and he had pointed me to the Santa website he had setup. I was looking forward to speaking with him and letting both daughters talk to Santa as well this year. I must say it's sad news to see that he's passed on.

RE: Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!  
by VE3RHD on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Is there a specific time that he is on 14.270?
Richard, VE3RHD
RE: Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!  
by KE7VUX on December 20, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Reading the article, maybe it won't start until 2010.

Otherwise, I wouldn't mind a good time to call - tried 14.270 a few times this weekend with no luck.

My 3 year old is getting good at "CQ Santa" though. :P
RE: Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!  
by KB2CPW on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Many years back I heard Mickey on the air being Santa. When my son was old enough we tried to work him, I think we got him one year but not the next, propagation.

My son was elated just hearing him on the radio, good times.. I was sorry to hear that Mickey passed. He certainly had me believing again.

My son is now 15, when we had to tell him a few years back what was what, I told him that St. Nick will always be Santa through the people that carry on his tradition. Mickey was Santa, to many girls and boys and even me. As long as there are Santa's, there will be believers and the magic will live on. God Bless you Mickey..!
Now You Know! Santa's a Ham!  
by K1SFA on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe I was not as clear as I could have been when I wrote this article. Mark said he would be on this year (2009). He said he would be on in the evenings after he got home from work. Please try calling "CQ Santa" on 14.270 - if he hears you, he will definitely answer. -- de K1SFA
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