Bruce NR5Q, then callsign W5HTX, at his station in 1938. Bruce was 15 years old at the time.

This was sent when I lived near Buffalo, NY, in the late 1990s. I had just read a story by Bruce Vaughn N5RQ, now a silent key. Bruce has a wonderful story teller, and friend, and an old time radio repairman. If you ever get a chance to read any of his articles or books, you won’t regret it, closest thing to time travel we have these days. One year Bruce surprised me one year with a wonderful wooden coil holder, after I shared the problem of organizing the coils for my National SW-3 receiver. Enjoyed many emails back and forth about old gear. Regretfully never got to visit him before his passing.

– Bruce W1UJR

Real Radio
I read Bruce’s article with rapt awe, for he very accurately diagnosed the disease that I had been suffering from. When I was first licensed in July 1995 I jumped in feet first. It was like turning a child loose in a candy store. I worked every mode known, from packet, to RTTY to satellite. I pulled all nighters to get my WAS, to find that next contact, I was hooked. Oddly however, during the last 6 months I have started to enjoy the hobby less and less, even though I had more and more equipment.

It seemed great to have a radio with DSP this, and LED that, but something was lacking. And there in lies the problem. I has lost the “magic of radio”, willingly surrendered it, and even paid to sell it off, all for the wonder of technology. My enjoyment of radio became inversely proportional the amount of radio gear I owned. Now my QSOs took place with the relative ease of a cell phone call, and the challenge and allure, along with the magic, was gone. Fortunately the cure for this malady was easy, at least for me. It consisted of “culling the herd”. 

I decided to sell off every bit of radio gear that I did not use at least once a week. And with the current market for boatanchor gear, that was not as painful as it sounds! I then committed to return to the real roots of radio, and operate only CW and AM. I have had more enjoyment in the last few months, just sitting in the basement listening to my 75A4 and using my 40-year Johnson transmitter, than I ever had in the past 4 years with all the high tech gear.

It was like I had returned home, to my roots, the to magic. The “Magic of Radio” is not something that can be bought, it must be learned. I recall my wonderment as a teenager hanging a piece of wire out the window, and listening to all of these far away places on my DX-160, and it is now like those heady times again. Today, the new amateur is sadly often “sold” radio as two-way intercom with their buddies. CW, naw that’s old fashioned, use FM instead. We have dumbed the hobby down to the lowest common denominator. Obtaining a license is now almost a right, not a privilege. And we wonder why people drop out of the hobby?

The answer is simple, we sold them defective goods, instead of teaching them the magic, and we sold them a free cell phone. The time-honored concepts of elmering, and home brewing are looked upon as archaic, even backward. But now I know the real truth, and it is magic. From here on in I committed to share the magic with every new amateur, and leave the free calls to Ma Bell. 

Bruce J. Howes KG2IC