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Letter: Remembering the FCC’s First Class Radiotelephone License

A reader reminisces on his short radio stint in college

In this letter to the editor, the author comments on Buc Fitch’s 2006 story “The Demise of the First Phone,” which was recently reshared in our Radio World Engineering Extra SmartBrief newsletter. Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

I graduated from high school in 1969 and ended up working for WCWA(AM/FM) — the FM eventually became WIOT while going to college. I was the “college kid” who filled in weekends and vacations but reported to the chief engineer who also happened to have a ham ticket as I did. We hit it off and I stayed almost to graduation, picking up the “First” phone license in 1971 — even passed the Ship Radar endorsement.

You’d think I would stay in broadcasting and join the certificate wall members. But industry came calling and I left broadcasting because of money. I saw the handwriting on the wall of low pay. $1000/mo. in 1974 was just too much to pass up, especially after getting married.

Of the three friends from college in the business (we worked for three different stations in the Toledo market), one went to Collins Radio, one stayed as chief of several stations and I left the business. The only time I used the First after graduation was to apply for a license for portable radios at my first industry company.

The license and the “General” issued after that are still hanging on the wall in my shack, but the future in the radio business just wasn’t in my future. I do wonder how I would have done if I stayed. Probably poorer and still working at 72.

— Russ Kinner, WA8ZID and old time broadcast engineer

[Related: “Letters: Fond Memories of the ‘First Phone'”]