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My first exposure to Amateur Radio was via a couple friends' fathers. Unfortunately for us, their radio shacks were strictly off-limits to us kids. We'd sneak in anyway and I marveled at the many different radios and wondered what they all did. Perhaps, not being allowed in there made it all the more interesting? A few years later, my parents gave me a Radio Shack crystal radio kit which inadvertantly tuned off the normal AM broadcast band. With an odd assortment of long-wire antennas, I could listen to the BBC nightly. That made a real impression on a 12 year old. I checked out our local library's ragged copy of the Radio Amateur's Handbook so often that the librarian eventually gave it to me. It was full of things I didn't understand although some of the antenna articles did make a little sense. My high school Earth Science teacher (KA9N) was the first person to encourage me to get my license, though it would be another 10 or 12 years until I actually did. He also gave me an "updated" copy of the Radio Amateur's Handbook from 1966 (which I still have).
After high school, I went to Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL to get a degree in electronics.
I joined some of the first No-Code Techs when I passed the test in June, 1991. The main reason for becoming a ham at this point was to do weather spotting. I've been a member of the Ogle County ARES since its inception in 1992.
I'm a member of the Rock River Amateur Radio Club and serve as its President. I highly recommend joining a local ham club - it's not only a good resource but a great way to make some new friends.
Currently, I hold a General Class license and have been studying for my Extra exam and will be working on learning CW after that. I still favor wire antennas and am interested in QRP. Lately, I've discovered the fun and challenge of rebuilding vintage ham gear and shortwave receivers.
I spend much of my other free time as a semi-professional musician, at times collaborating with fellow ham Gordon, KE9DT. I am the Lighting Designer for the Chicago-based Chicago tribute band "25 or 6 to 4" as well as lending a hand running sound for Gordon's Blues band "Lost Karma".
My hope is that radio can still spark wonder in a 12 year kid as it did for me with a handful of parts and a length of wire. I've also tried to be more approachable to anyone interested in our hobby than my experiences had been as a young person.