Whisky, Zero, Romeo . . .

My father and his ham radio.

In my childhood home, my father would sit in front of his ham radio microphone, sending out his call sign to the world. His call letters were W0RXL, which in amateur-radio-speak equate to Whisky, Zero, Romeo, Xray, Lima. (I use the version of “whisky” without the e to honor my Scottish heritage.)

Those of you who have been following my blog for years may remember that my father’s ham radio hobby meant so much to him, we even buried his cremains inside one piece of his radio equipment.

When his call sign made it into some other ham radio operator’s ears in some far-flung place, they would tell each other a bit about themselves and where they lived. My ears would prick up whenever I heard him mention that he had a daughter named Marie. Sometimes he would tell jokes.

I’m not sure how this worked, but apparently, they would even exchange addresses and send each other postcards with their call signs on them. Since my father was also a stamp collector, this transaction did double duty, serving that hobby as well as documenting his contacts across the world.

I swear, he talked more to these strangers than he did to his friends. By eavesdropping on his radio conversations, I learned more about him than I did from our dinner table conversations, which were mainly led by my mother.

Some ham radio operators he contacted regularly. Some he became friends with. I remember we even met a few of them during our road trips across America and Canada when I was young.

The other day, it struck me how much blogging is like amateur radio. We blog authors post our words for anyone in the world to read much like ham radio operators send out their call signs. I’m always amazed how many people from other countries access “Marie’s Meanderings.”

Several bloggers I consider friends and would love to meet with them if I was ever in their necks of the world.

Word Press offers a way to look at what countries have accessed blogs over different time periods. Just for fun, I looked at the stats for countries since I began my blog. Readers from everywhere but a few places in central Africa and islands north of Norway, plus Tajikistan have clicked on my blog at least once. Maybe those places are without internet access.

Not surprisingly, English-speaking countries have the most hits (the U.S., the U.K., Canada, India, and Australia). The country with a foreign language that has the most hits is Singapore, but even so, I guess about half of its citizens speak English at home.

I suppose the comments people leave on my blog (which I appreciate, by the way!) are similar to the postcards my father used to receive. And I suppose if my sons read my blog, they would learn things about introverted me they didn’t know before. I honestly don’t know if they read it. I’m afraid to ask. If they said no, I’d have a hard time with that. Then again, they each have busy lives. Besides, I’m just their mom! What interesting things could I possibly have to say? 😊

Recently, I learned of a new hobby that’s gaining in popularity. It’s called Postcrossing. One of my coworkers participates in it. It’s a project that allows people to send and receive postcards from random people across the world. It reminds me of my father’s hobby, and I bet he would have loved this service.

Through thinking about the similarities in amateur radio and blogging, I’ve come to realize I might be more like my father than I ever suspected. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

13 thoughts on “Whisky, Zero, Romeo . . .

  1. What a great post about your father! I had to go back and read again the post about when he died. I agree that blogging is a bit like your dad did with his radio. *(He was quite handsome!) When I hit “Publish,” I am never sure if anyone will hear me and respond. Like you, I have made friends all over, even as an introvert too. I must check out your friend’s Crossposting. I remember having a pen pal in England as a child. Wish I had kept her letters and cards!

    Yes, you do seem like your father, Marie. Not a bad thing indeed. I am sure he would be proud of you today.

    • Hi Jo Nell. Thanks. Yes, my dad was a looker. This picture was taken before he discovered jogging. He thinned out quite a bit after that and was even more striking! Crossposting seems like a cool idea. My coworker got involved in it during the pandemic as a way to not feel so isolated. I thought that was a great idea.

  2. I hope there are still ham radio operators out there somewhere like your father. What a wonderful hobby that was! But I suppose things like bloggers, Facebook, and so on are the current versions. Your friend’s postcrossing sounds fascinating to me. I might try it. And like you, I don’t think anyone in my family reads my blog, but I hope that they do someday. And I bet your sons would love reading yours!!

    • Hey Diana. Thanks for commenting. I wonder if ham radioing has changed since my father’s time? I wonder if people are more guarded about their identities? It would be interesting to know. Yes, I think you are right about Facebook, etc. If you try postcrossing, please let us know how it goes.

  3. Nice post, Marie. I love the details in the photo—the clock and the small lamp that were part of your handsome father’s setup.

    • Thank you, Sherry. And also note the map on the wall. I bet dad put pins in it to denote his contacts. One thing I didn’t say in this story was that he built the radio himself. He was an electrical engineer.

  4. Marie, this is a beautiful essay about your dad. Your comparing ham radio to blogging is true. I’ve never made that comparison, but I’ve often thought about the readers I have in different places and how I too enjoy hearing from them.

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