Call Letters Meaning on Wikipedia

Donna Halper
Thu Jun 13 23:53:56 EDT 2019

On 6/13/2019 8:41 PM, Gary's Ice Cream wrote:
> No.  Ham is sequentially assigned based on the area...for example New England is usually a K with a "1", or a W with a "1"....."1" being the New England designator. Ham calls can also start with an "N"  or "AA" in the U.S.

Long, long ago-- way back before Gary or I were born-- there were no N's 
or AA's.  The original ham calls were people's initials before 1912. 
After the Radio Act of 1912, ham call letters were divided up by region 
with a number at the beginning (as Gary noted, the 1 was for New 
England; 2 was New York/New Jersey area, 3 was the Middle Atlantic 
states, etc). A typical ham call had 2 letters, and they were assigned 
sequentially. Gradually, as more hams got licensed, the government went 
to 3 call letters.  Thus, the late great Eunice Randall, our first 
female announcer, began as ER, then in 1921, she was assigned 1 CDP.  In 
1927, more changes occurred, thanks to the Radio Act of 1927 (which 
established the Federal Radio Commission, later the Federal 
Communications Commission).  That's when ham stations got the W at the 
beginning of the call letters.  Irving Vermilya, founder of New Bedford 
radio station WNBH was originally 1-ZE, but in 1927, he became W1-ZE.  
For years, you could tell if someone had been a ham for a long time 
because they often kept their old 2 letter calls, except now they had 
that W (or K) at the beginning.  Irving Vermilya could have gotten new 
call letters, but he liked his old 1ZE, and kept his chose to use his 
original call letters till his untimely death in 1964.  Today, hams have 
more options-- including AAs and N's or they can request an old call, if 
nobody else is using it.

Donna L. Halper, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication & Media Studies
Lesley University, Cambridge MA

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