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Bob Radkey (K9RPX)
July 29, 2009
I found out Bob Radkey had passed away when I
saw his call sign listed in Silent Keys in the
November issue of QST. Bob was 52 when, in 1972
he gave this 15 year old kid a novice license test at
Bob's dining room table in his home in Park Forest
Illinois. Bob's testing m.o. was to trust the
applicant to not cheat on the written part, by
leaving the dining room so the test taker could
concentrate, randomly poking his head through the
doorway just to make sure (trust but verify hi hi).
The kid (that would be me) wound up as WN9JTC
and is now sadly, writing a brief recollection about
Bob, who passed away last July in Mountain Home
Arkansas, at the age of 89.
Bob was a regular member of the Tri Town
Amateur Radio Club. He was a RTTY man. He had
one room in his house in Park Forest devoted to
operating RTTY which in those days was not a small
undertaking. The room was filled with
Klindschmidt model 15 gear, rolls of paper, rolls of
paper tape, and more paper and tape hanging from
the walls in the form of RTTY art and pre-punched
brag tapes and messages. Running Drake gear and
wire antennas K9RPX got out quite well on RTTY
and the station was exciting to see when in
operation with the oscilloscope showing the mark
and space ovals and everything clanking away,
especially for a 15 year old in 1972. It was like
there was this secret mission control style news
room in this nondescript ranch house on a quiet
street in Park Forest. My family moved away a year
later and I lost touch with Bob but I always
remembered him as the ham who gave me my first
Contributed by: Rob Atkinson (K5UJ)
I'll echo Rob's (K5UJ) sentiments. I learned of Bob Radkey's passing while on the air with Rob. I was a 14 year old kid in early 1972 when I arrived at Bob’s house (not the first time, more on that later) for my novice exam. About a month or more later I received my ticket. I was on the air as WN9JFD after many weeks of anxiously awaiting to receive my ticket in the mail. The ink of my signature on the license was still drying as I loaded up a 75 W transmitter for my first QSO. Exhilarating!!
Yes, Bob was a RTTY man, and I recall the room was quite a RTTY operation. Rob, your recall of the shack’s details exceed mine!! I have such wonderful memories of the mechanical gear, reams of paper, the RTTY art, the clanking gear, etc. Observing his station operation as mark/space ovals danced away in an oscilloscope’s display amidst the clanking gear was a nothing less than a symphony that bedazzled this fledgling newbie.
And now – the rest of the story. Several years before taking my exam my family lived just a short distance down the block from Bob. I attended gradeschool with his son and daughter. His son, Jim, and I were practically inseparable at the time. I don’t know how Mrs. Radkey put up with us. I recall Jim setting up and running a rather unique looking and antique in its time (mid 1960’s) electric train set in the kid’s play room. This play room is where Bob later set up RTTY operations. I took the exam in his original shack location. It was in this room, several years before, as an impressionable third or fourth grader, that I first observed Bob operating CW one weekend afternoon. This was my official introduction to amateur radio. I was bitten by “the bug” that day.
In a strange twist of fate, our move from the house near Bob landed me just a few doors down from Rob’s. Rob and I quickly befriended one another, and sort of got into radio at about the same time.
I lost touch with Rob a year or so after receiving my ticket, as he and his family moved away. One night on HF a few years back I heard someone who sounded like Rob. So I gave him a shout, which was followed by our first exchange in over 30 years. I consider this part of the magic of amateur radio.
I don’t know if Bob administered novice exams to others besides Rob and me. I’ll always remember Bob as the ham oversaw my first license exam as well as introducing me to our great hobby of amateur radio. Every time I operate RTTY or CW, I think of Bob ... and Rob!
Contributed by: Randall Williams (WN9D)
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