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The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B

Dr Kenneth M Beck (WI7B) on March 4, 2019
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Call me Beck. At one time, I was young and in love. With radio. With a woman. Not so much with my work. I would spend equal time with her, with radio, and with my job in Chicago. It was an interesting time, a happy time in some ways. Drove a used VW bug, then a used Camaro.

It was the time of excitement. The time of phone patches to Little America. A friend in Evanston with a 20m beam showed me how he made phone patches to McMurdo Bay, KCxxx. I could only hope.

The time of automated phone calls from S.A.R.A .repeaters. It was like talking on the phone, except everyone was part of the conversation. I think I could sense my girlfriend's hatred for Amateur Radio begging about then, when she ask on the phone, through our S.A.R.A. link, "Can other people hear us?"

I did have a Kenwood, a TS-520, and my first ever rig, an HW-16 and built my own 2m rig from Heathkit with matching repeater xtals. I was a ham, and sat for the black suits at the Everett Dirksen Building for the new General License test and one test of 5 wpm, then 6 months later for 13 wpm. Now I ws accomplished. I was a General Radio Operator, WD9AQM. The last of the WB9 had slipped my grasp.

It was many years before I came back to radio after my girl and I split ways. I came back as KE7BZH, a General. Then as an Extra. I started looking for the creme de la creme of Washington State vanity calls. I looked and looked for K7KB. My initials in the call! Boy, was I vain! No go. Finally, I found it , WI7B. My last initial would have to do. WI was confusing enough ( and still is to this day). How many have called me, "Whiskey Seventeen Bravo"? Only the ether knows. Haha! In the event, when you hit your rhythm at 13-15 wpm, it sounds like music to me!

The untold story of the vanity call, WI7B is that it never ends. I was awarded this call by the FCC more than a decade ago. It's original owner, Gerhard Diedrich, a pilot for New Zealand Airlines, had passed away near the turn of the Century (2004?). He left one daughter on the Southern Island of Aotearoa. He was always active on 20m with the Henry Radio Club in Los Angeles. Yet, to this very day, he LIVES!

He lives in the FCC ULS as WI7B, waiting to be plucked from oblivion. Of course, he cannot, his license has been expired, but his last known address in Kansas is still there! Poor Gerhard! If one's soul must pass to the ether from which all airmen and radiomen come, a chain holds him here. A small link of that chain is the Universal License System of the FCC!

ULS License - Amateur License - WI7B - DIEDRICHS, GERHARD H WTB ULS Online Systems Call Sign,WI7B, Radio Service, HA - Amateur. Status, Expired, Auth Type, Regular. Dates. Grant, 11/10/1992, Expiration, 11/10/2002. Effective, 11/10/1992...

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The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by K7NSW on March 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well, whether you are Beck or Gerhard, I will talk to you if our radio waves cross paths.Your story is very interesting. Thanks for sharing it. Here is mine.
I took the General test in Boise, Idaho during the days that the traveling examiner came over from the Portland, Oregon FCC Field Office. I was one of many in a large group testing in even bigger auditorium. I handed in my test papers along with the voluntary postage paid post card. Good thing I did! I soon received my post card back telling me I had passed the exam. I waited for my license = and waited and waited. No license. I called my Congressman. Shortly thereafter I received a letter from the head of the FCC Personal Radio Division. She apologized and told me the traveling examiner had lost all of the test papers for everyone in that Boise testing session. There was no record of any of us! Following her directions, I sent her a copy of my post card. She gave me her personal address and told me to use it as she did not trust the mail at the FCC offices. SHE LIVED IN THE WATER GATE APARTMENTS! I soon received my license - I still have that post card. Maybe I will live forever with you Gerhard! Do any of you not know about the Water Gate Apartments? Go read the history of the last days and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
RE: The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by K7CB on March 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I found this to be somewhat challenging to read and a little confusing.
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by KC6RWI on March 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I also did reread a number of times. I finally did the point. I glad he shared his experience, but I am not quite on the same page,
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by W9MT on March 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
To show my own Chicago Area roots...

Youse guys that don't understand Beck's posting must read between the lines. The man is musing in allegory. He's a poet and youse don't know it.

He walks the path of the metaphysical, starting with the strange journey of how he got into this loose confederation called amateur radio, which is a actually cornucopia of hobbies threaded together with the common, golden thread of "radio". I could tell you my own stories of 2m FM in the Chicago area in the ancient days of the 1970's. The late night repeater round table discussions back then traversed a wide range of topics. This is now being repeated on DMR and DSTAR talk groups and reflectors. (The full story, with its own weird musings and events is too long to relate here. It's best left for a QSO.)

Also, yes, when I was dating back then I was looked at as strange and "different" by others in my carrying that rock bound HT with autopatch on my hip in those days prior to cellphones. Now everyone is tied to a digital communications device to the point of dangerous distraction whilst driving or ambulating aimlessly down the city streets. It only took 40 years for the non-hams to catch up to us.

Then I married a beautiful girl who came from a family of several father and brother ham radio operators (she wasn't and still isn't, but she has a similar affectation...she quilts). My hobby and idiosyncrasies mesh nicely with hers and are nicely tolerated. I'm happy. We're like peanut butter and jelly....

My callsign, W9MT, is also a vanity selection. I got it just after two friends of mine who were 20wpm Extras for decades shamed me into upgrading before the Extra code speed was reduced to 5wpm before being altogether eliminated in 2000. I got it (barely with the code part) with one try. My hiatus, stagnating at Advanced for 29 1/2 years, was over. Then WB9ERL, the former WN9ERL 1970 Novice, as a junior at Lane Tech HS was no more. I grabbed this nice 1x2 before the flood gates opened in May 2000.

The son of the prior holder of W9MT sent me a nice email about his father, along with photos. That was a nice human touch. He was the 2nd holder of this callsign. I am the third. (There are also connections between my callsign letters and my own life experiences that I won't bore you with here...)

So to wax metaphysically again...

Do we reincarnate? ...or does only the callsign? Maybe we regenerate like Dr. Who? Does the FCC ULS system keep a little hook in us, so we never really fade away completely? (To get less gross...maybe a little carabiner clipped to our belt loops.)

I've often mused "amusedly" about my future tombstone having a little tower-ette carved into it with a "QRZ?" inscription next to it, along with the usual, expected markings. That'll get the more imaginative visitors to the cemetery wondering and thinking, in more than one dimension I might add !!!

Thank you, Beck, for your non-linear, "out of the box" musings. It's this type of imaginative thinking that makes life (and REAL QSO's) interesting. It also creates life-calling work to poets and philosophers. It's also an exciting parallel universe to consider outside of the engineering work that got me into ham radio and to which I dedicated my career.

Monotony may have paid for my groceries in this life, but it is variety like Beck has proffered that is the spice of life. Thank you, Beck...

Good read !!!

(Maybe we can do a sked sometime and crack open the wormhole of parallel universe possibilities a bit wider as we drill our RF sigs thru the ether.)
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by N1YRK on March 7, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
There's a vanity call that I want. I did some research and thought I had found the owner had passed, and I was getting all ready to submit the documentation of his departure for the big hamfest in the sky when I figure out it was the fellow's father who had passed. That would have been embarrassing. It's not the fellow who currently has the call that makes me interested in it; it's the fellow who had it in the 1920s.
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by VK2LEE on March 11, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I have a Callsign that has never ever been used before. As far as I know We do not have vanity callsigns in Australia. This is the Callsign I asked for back in 1986 when there wasn't any Australian stations with call signs in the VK#LAA to LZZ range, so I was the first 3 letter Australian Callsign beginning with an "L" and it did not cost any extra, but it did take a few weeks to receive it, as all things were posted by snail mail back then. My problem then was that in all Australian Call Books it stated that there are NO Call signs in the LAA to LZZ range. So, what makes a Vanity Callsign a Vanity Callsign??? Is it because someone has specifically asked for a call sign, regardless of the letters etc...???
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by KK4Z on March 11, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I remember my hunt for a vanity call sign. I was originally licensed in Shreveport, LA and my Advanced Class call sign was KM5AV. Not a bad call in its own right. However, in 1999 I ended up in GA. After a few years of ribbing about my "5" call, I decided to get a new call and I didn't want just any call. First I upgraded to Extra and then I went hunting.

It was not easy, every day I was on the prowl. Then one day, I found a call sign that nobody bothered with. I did some checking and the previous owner had passed a year or so before -- the license was still active. I quietly sent the correct paperwork to the FCC; waited a few days, and then sent my application for the call sign.

I was awarded the call KK4Zed. I like to joke that I stole it off a dead man, but, I know his name and where he lived. Mr. William Troup of Fairhope, AL bequeathed me a great call sign.

I've had the call for almost 16 years now and would never part with it. I hope when when I pass that someone else will discover this call and carry on with blessings from myself and William.
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by NE3R on March 26, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I wasn't sure I wanted to give up N3PAQ but as I looked forward to what would happen when Morse code requirement was finally removed for good for the Amateur Extra exam, I figured that it was then or never. There were often plenty of group A calls available in 3 land at the time. I got the list, sorted by lowest CW weight, and NE3R was at the top. It wasn't long after that the ranks of the Extra class operator swelled and all of the available calls were claimed. A few pop up here and there, but it'll never be like it was.
RE: The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by N7NV on April 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Don't quite understand this thread, but I have found my favorite call, N7NV. As I live in Nevada, abbreviation: NV, so N7NV works for me. Love to use it for a Field Day, but currently have no equipment. A former QRP ham, have worked it all on 80, 40, and 20 meters. I prefer CW. Got my General at age 11, extra around 25.
The Great White Vanity Callsign -- WI7B Reply
by W9BRD on April 23, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It's too bad we're so generally hung up on 1x2 and 2x1 call signs. There are thousands of lovely 1x3s lying unused--the call signs that hams of yesteryear were excited and proud to use on the air for decades, sometimes for their entire ham careers. Many even from ham notables back in the 1930s through 1960s are there for the asking.

Mine (W9BRD) was my dad's. It will never feel all the way like "me," but I want to keep the legacy going, and man does it roll off the fingers nicely on CW...

Best regards,

amateur radio W9BRD
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