2023 W7HEN Presidential Candidate

2023 W7HEN Presidential Candidate

My name is Bill Freeman, N4NJJ/WREI383. I have been a ham since 2005. As a sixth-grader, I started the radio hobby the year before when my dad gave me a police scanner. The rest has been history.

In 2021, I was urged to run for president/vice-president by several hams, including Earl WB6AMT-SK and Tony WB6MIE-SK. The time was not right for me. My daughter had been born three months premature earlier that year, and I was in the midst of my doctoral program. There was a movement to amend by-laws for a few of us (including myself) to be nominees at the time, but as I had joined in early January 2021, even with the amendment, I was not eligible. In many ways, I was relieved. 

Bill N4NJJ at the former KXNT-AM transmitter doing a little 160m in April 2023.

Fast forwarding two years, my baby girl is a healthy and stubborn two-and-a-half-year-old, and I am preparing to defend my dissertation by Christmas/early January. With the quick passing of both Earl and Tony, two hams that elmered and saw something in me, I could just blow off the opportunity to serve you, but I don’t feel that that would be right.

Yes, I own and maintain my own cluster of repeaters. While I’m sure some view the “Sin City” repeaters as “competition,” I do find that very notion of the word “competition” to be a very sad commentary for what amateur radio has devolved into in recent years – particularly in Las Vegas.

That system is most certainly not a club. Never has been. Never will be. The core value of that system is that it’s not a club. It’s a very loose group of hams that like to explore radio using equipment that doesn’t throw spurious emissions at a statistically significant (as measured by the ARRL) high rate. Much experimentation and innovation happens there because it’s not dictated by committee, membership, or parliamentary procedure.

There are pros/cons to independent systems such as mine, just like there are pros/cons to club systems. Neither is better. Neither is mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s my belief that both are necessary and required for a robust radio community fulfilling the tenets of the introduction and charge of the amateur service per Part 97. Over the years, I’ve been a member of the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club W2SO, the Amateur Radio Association of the Tonawandas W2SEX, the East Pasco Amateur Radio Club K4EX, and this very club.

While I didn’t wake up actively seeking a leadership position within the organization, I do understand that we are at a bit of a crossroads. We have lost brothers due to illness. We’re losing our leader, Tim K7JTC, due to term limits. Tim has navigated the club’s infancy, COVID-19, and precipitous growth. Tim’s work, as well as the work of the entire executive committee and many rank-and-file members, has been exemplary. For the betterment of our club, our beloved hobby, and our precious frequency spectrum, we cannot let it stop.

We’re at a time when the club needs someone with proven experience, refined leadership skills, knowledge of the local ham community, and the technical aspects required to maintain and grow a robust repeater network. Of course, all this requires bringing people – sometimes (maybe most of the time) people who don’t like each other – and money together to continue growing our club and the hobby in Las Vegas.

I have worked as an educator with the Clark County School District and as a non-profit administrator and executive. Currently, I am an administrator working in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Las Vegas. I manage a budget of just under $2 million, five full-time/20 part-time employees, and over 200 volunteers, including everyone’s compliance with youth protection policies stipulated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

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N4NJJ conducting the Festival Chorus of the Archdiocese of Las Vegas on Monday, October 16 at a special Mass with the Papal Nuncio broadcast on EWTN.

In addition to my administrator responsibilities, I am also the Director of Music and Principal Organist for the Guardian Angel Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral for all of Nevada and Utah, and St. Anthony of Padua in the northwest. As a conductor and organist for high-profile events, my work has been featured on SiriusXM, EWTN, CNN, Fox News, and local media.

I hold an undergraduate degree in organ performance and business administration from Canisius University in Buffalo, NY. I have a Master of Education in Elementary Education from National University in San Diego, a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in School Administration from Western Governors’ University, and an Educational Specialist degree in Administration from Saint Leo University in Florida. I will soon have my Doctor of Education in Educational & Organizational Leadership from Saint Leo University. While unrelated to the club, I have a Certificate in Roman Catholic Theology from the University of Notre Dame and have completed musical training at UNLV, George Mason University, and the Eastman School of Music. I am someone who, when given a task and challenge, sees it through to completion regardless of personal hardship or adversity.

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N4NJJ as a teenager with the W2SO club working the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend at the Dunkirk Lighthouse on Lake Erie.

In ham clubs, I have done everything from net director to public information officer to cleaning the bathrooms, climbing modest towers, grilling hamburgers, newsletter editor/webmaster, and serving as president. I have previous ham club experience serving as the President of the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club W2SO, which, at the time in 2013, was the largest and most active club in Western New York. Additionally, I served the Western New York Section of the ARRL as an Assistant Section Manager. I was the net control of the Amateur Radio Association of the Tonawandas’ Thursday night net and newsletter editor. With ham clubs, I can honestly say that I have “been there and done that,” which, as I’m sure many can relate to, is why I wasn’t actively seeking an official role within the club.

In terms of my more recent volunteer experience, I am finishing my term as Dean of the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, southern Nevada’s oldest performing arts organization in continuous existence. I have been a member of the executive board since 2016 and have chaired the scholarship committee as the sub-dean.

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As president of W2SO, Bill instituted “build it” nights and other technical/operating activities at the clubhouse every Thursday evening.

While I understand that some might view owning a repeater system as a conflict of interest, I view my repeater experience – mainly existing connections with site owners – as a big plus for the club. In fact, certain things limit me as an “independent” that would not limit the club. Without getting into the weeds, this typically occurs with insurance liability and business permitting issues. I believe that this experience, coupled with all of my ham club and non-profit experiences, can help keep the club focused on the main thing: advancing amateur radio in our community. I appreciate your time and consideration to serve as your radio club president.

The N4NJJ Plan

Ham clubs are all about cultivating community.

The hard part is discerning what the community looks like. With W7HEN, the founders of the club had the foresight to establish what our community would look like. Aspects of this community include (HARC, Inc. Bylaws, §1.5.1):

  • Exchange information and cooperation between members
  • Promote radio knowledge
  • Fraternalism
  • Individual operating efficiency
  • Programs and activities to advance the general interest and welfare of ham radio

So what does Bill N4NJJ envision that looking like?

Simple: Provide a forum for hams of all abilities to exercise their privileges as licensees and aspiring hams a place to get licensed. This is achieved by continuing the good work already established by too many people to mention and expanding upon it with:

  • Open houses
  • Build it nights
  • Nets
  • Participating in ARRL events
  • Participating in contests and special events
  • Setup and demo ham radio to community groups including Scouting, churches/houses of worship, and other civic-minded organizations

We need to acknowledge that ham radio needs to be accessible to all.

This requires asking some tough and possibly uncomfortable questions:

  • Are we offering events in places that are easy for members to get to?
  • Are we offering meet-ups and gatherings at different times of the day or are we just sticking with breakfast and evening activities?
  • Are we only focused on a certain type of ham?
  • Are we only focused on certain types of ham activities?

Ham radio is a boring hobby when there’s no one to talk to.

I always used to think that this referred to not being a jerk on the radio. It does, but it also got me thinking: What are we doing to continually bring new people, particularly young adults, into the hobby?

A lot of people talk with pie-in-the-sky expectations about getting teenagers involved. If you’re only going to focus on teens, you’re way too late to the party. They have jobs. Girlfriends/boyfriends. College applications. Trade school apprenticeships. A lot of teens in Vegas are sadly raising their own siblings and cousins. Not to mention, there are a lot of big unanswered liability questions that many non-profit special interest clubs, including ham radio ones, don’t have answers to when it comes to keeping predators away from children.

What are we doing for young adults? People in their 20s and 30s. Heck, even people in their 40s could be considered young adults by ham radio standards.

There is so much more we can… should… and need to do.

The N4NJJ plan is about building up the community. At its core, that is the primary purpose, per the bylaws, of this club.

What about your repeater system?

Fair question.

The Sin City Repeater Network has always been a very, very different animal than the club’s system. First, the Sin City Repeater Network prides itself on being “independent.” All of the hardware is privately owned. It’s privately maintained. There aren’t any dues. Donations aren’t accepted.

Part of this is to foster innovation. Independently owned machines are only bound by the FCC rules found in Part 97. Sure, we have a few gentlemen’s agreements over there:

  • Low-quality radios aren’t welcome
    • It’s not about being elitist, it’s about ensuring full compliance with FCC spectral purity
    • It’s also about audio
  • Audio levels are equalized and normalized across repeaters

N4NJJ repeaters are not competitors to W7HEN repeaters.

Contrary to what some might say or feel, these repeaters aren’t competitors. They attract different types of hams.

N4NJJ repeaters have been connected to the W7HEN system for nets, events, and interesting QSOs.

Remember that part about individual control?

My repeaters have been connected to the W7HEN network for things like the Sunday night tech-net. Once H2 on Apex went away, I was suddenly cut off from the net. I live on the west side of town. Angel Peak and Low Potosi don’t reliably and eloquently cover my QTH. While this certainly kept the door open to my participation, it also opened the door for many others who suddenly found themselves in the same situation.

That’s the beauty of AllStar Link; the terms and generally accepted practices require openness of all running public nodes to permit connections with few exceptions.

So, as you can see, while my repeaters serve a different user base, they don’t exclude nor entice W7HEN members. The reality is any ham, member or not, is permitted to choose where and how they operate within the context of their license and applicable laws/regulations.

Isn’t there a conflict of interest?

No. Remember, HARC bylaws stipulate in §1.5.1 that the primary purpose of the club is to “conduct programs and activities as to advance the general interest and welfare of Amateur Radio in the City of Henderson and throughout the Las Vegas Valley.”

Those aren’t my words as an individual. Those are the words of every single dues-paying member.

The reality of the situation is that the club has access to sites that I, as an individual, do not have access to. I don’t have nearly as large of a liability policy, 501c3 status, and all of that. On the other hand, the reality of the situation is I have access to sites that the club does not have access to. Not every site owner wants to deal with things done by committee.

Again, aren’t we all trying to further ham radio? Conflict only arises when people go looking for it.

Besides, the founding president of the club has his own repeaters. It wasn’t an issue then. It won’t be an issue now.

There is ham radio, and ham radio needs, beyond 70cm, right?