500px-fcc_new_logosvg.pngI have been considering becoming more active as an amateur radio (HAM) operator. I have had my ham ticket since high school and there is always an underlying interest for me in the radio hobby, no matter how inactive I may be. I am a life member of the American Radio Relay League and still get my copy of their magazine on-line. I read QST every month and get the weekly ARRL email.

The truth is, that I have had a hand-held VHF/UHF radio for almost five years and only use it once in a while. The radio goes with us in the RV when we travel and is available for emergencies or just for “rag chewing” with other hams.

That brings us to the reason for this post. I have had my current callsign since 1979 or so, and it is a special one that identifies me as a top-of-the-pack Amateur Extra Class licensee. It also, unfortunately, identifies me as being from California by virtue of the numeral “6″ embedded therein. I currently reside in, and am proud to be a citizen of Arizona for which the identifying numeral should be a “7.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program which allows amateur radio operators to apply for a “Vanity” callsign. I have submitted several applications for desired callsigns but the competition is so great that I have had my applications dismissed thus far. The FCC uses a raffle system to randomly pick a winner for a given callsign and I have competed with twenty to fifty other applicants. I intend to keep trying, however, as the callsigns become available.

One of the applications I made was deeply disappointing. I went to the trouble of finding a “silent key” which is a term used for a ham that has passed on. I found one such ham here in Arizona and submitted some paperwork to the FCC which included his obituary. The FCC cancelled the callsign and it became available. I wanted this callsign since the prefix was a classic W7 and the suffix was my first and last initial. Even more disappointing since the eventual recipient was in the “9″ call area. I am old school and believe in having the regionally appropriate numeral.

As I said above, I am still trying. I have my hat in the ring for three different callsigns at this time.