Call Letters Meaning on Wikipedia

Rob Landry
Fri Jun 14 08:19:48 EDT 2019

The oldest ham radio club in America is the Harvard Wireless Club, founded 
in 1909, before there were assigned call signs. After World War I (during 
which time all non-military stations were closed down) it was granted the 
call sign 1AF; its original license was signed by Secretary of Commerce 
Herbert Hoover in (if I remember right) 1921. It became W1AF a few years 
later and still has that call sign.


On Thu, 13 Jun 2019, Donna Halper wrote:

> 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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