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Author Topic: Silent Key Benefits  (Read 1188 times)

Posts: 22


« on: March 23, 2009, 08:07:15 AM »

Forgive this seemingly insensitive inquiry, but I've been mulling this over for years, and know no one else to ask.

My late father had earned his general license in the early 1980s when he retired.  Though he initially tried to use my HW-16, he was too unfamiliar with it, and never had a rig of his own.

When he passed on, we found his license among his papers.

And sometime later, I mentioned on-line that he was a "silent key", an expression that I understood simply meant that he had passed away.  I had not expected that all references to his license in the database would be erased.

Now, after earning my own license, I am wondering if I did the right thing, "notifying" others that he was a SK.

Can you think of ANY benefits to NOT identifying a silent key?
Given that he had no rig, no recent activity, and lived in another state, can you think of reason why I should not have "admitted" that his call was an SK?

Is there anyway to reassert his license at this point? (I am quite certain that his license would have expired twice over by now...)

Just curious if there are any aspects to this that I may have not realized.

Thanks guys,

Posts: 117

« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2009, 08:20:44 AM »

If your dad's license was expired and went back into the available pool, and has (very likely) not been applied for through the FCC Vanity Call Sign System, you (or anyone else) can apply for that call as your own.

FCC does not reactivate licenses in the name of SK hams, but if you want that call, you should be able to get it.

If you don't know how to use the vanity call system, email me direct and I will make sure you get the info you need.

Good luck and 73.

Graham Welch - WE5I

Posts: 14499

« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2009, 08:23:02 AM »

I don't know of any reason not to let people know. Certainly there is no way that you can renew his license, although if it is still available you could request it for yourself. You'd have to give up your own call to do so.

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 6646

« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2009, 08:54:50 AM »

The FCC assigns call signs to living amateurs here on earth for 10 year time periods, it is renewable.
The FCC has no authority in the "after-life", just U.S. territories!
The call then goes back into their pool of available calls.
You can apply for it through the "FCC Vanity Call Sign System".  If available, they will assign it to you.
There is no need to "hide" the fact that an amateur has passed-on... it should be reported.


Posts: 0

« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2009, 09:22:59 AM »

Well there is a fly in the ointment, a possibility of one...

Say amateur Bob passes away and family notifies FCC of passing.  Bob had a very catchey call sign and immediately upon becomming available someone other than the family claims the call.

Then, and here comes the fly, a family member gets their ham license and does a vainty based on family AFTER it has been reissued.

IF the person who gets the reissue refuses to give up the call then the family due to first come first served is denied the call sign--they should have known being as they turned in the call and gotten there first.  The fly has just landed in the ointment.

Posts: 701

« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2009, 01:03:48 PM »


Some folks, for sentimental reasons, want to obtain the ham callsigns of their deceased relatives. Sons, in particular, sometimes want to obtain the calls of their fathers. Over the years, I have talked with many guys who mentioned that their call had formerly belonged to their dad and they obtained it as a vanity call after his passing.

The only repercussions I can think of would be that by announcing his passing, you potentially tip your hand to others who might now want his callsign -- if it was a desirable call -- and thus made it more difficult for yourself to obtain the call through the vanity system. But if you have no interest in obtaining his call, this is a moot point and thus it becomes a non-issue.

73, Dave, N4KZ

Posts: 22


« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2009, 01:45:25 PM »

Thank you for your responses.

I'm not sure that I can recall my dad's call now. I can come close, but without an old call directory handbook to confirm it, I'd be guessing.

I can think of only one or two positive and one or two negatives to reporting an Silent Key ham.

First, it returns calls to the pool, as if that was a problem.
Second, it might alert theives that some gear might be unattended or available on the market soon.
Third, as mentioned, sentimental reasons for "keeping it in the family."
Fourth, to save on the expense of reprinting QSL cards... or
Fifth, if there were a lot of personalized logo hats, shirts, banners, or poster or some such in the ham shack.

NONE of the above apply, as he had no QSL cards, no gear and no hats or shirts.  In fact, had we not found the paper in the bottom of his important papers drawer, I would not have known that the call existed.

PS: We also found a license (permit?) for a CB from the FCC as well...and that license I never recall him using either...though he did carry a CB with him on long driving trips in the 70s when the CB boom hit.

Posts: 858


« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2009, 03:25:14 PM »


As others have pointed out, there's no reason to withhold notification.

1. Licenses are only granted to living persons. There is no (legal) way to renew a license for someone who is dead.

2. The "sentimental reasons for keeping a callsign in the family" should really only apply for two years after death. That's the period of time during which the call is kept out of general circulation, and can only be requested by family members, former holders (if any), or clubs (in memoriam). Two years is plenty of time for a family member to get a license and apply, if they want to. (Note that in N5LRZ's comment that "immediately upon becoming available someone other than the family claims the call," the phrase "becoming available" means the two-year waiting period has expired. So the family DOES have two years all to themselves.)

3. Anyone can notify the FCC of the death of a licensee, not just a family member. So if someone really wants the call, and is willing to find proof of death (for example, from an online Social Security Death Index database), there's nothing a family member can do to stop it (other than get the call reassigned before two years is up).


Posts: 22


« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2009, 07:57:50 PM »

I don't recall furnishing ANYTHING to report the death of my father.  I just posted to an SK forum, and poof...the data base that used to contain his license information was gone the next time I looked for it.

If someone was supposed to wait for confirmation or something in writing, they jumped the gun. (Not that anything shady was being pulled, or that anything I told them was incorrect.  I just never received anything in response and someone deleted the record from the data base.

I shudder to think that anyone could do that if they  covetted someone's call sign... (I don't think that K8HLK or whatever his actual call was, was particularly desirable... but it was his, as randomly assigned by the FCC back in the 80s.)
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