Licensed in 2005, Bill is an amateur radio operator located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Primarily interested in VoIP, P25, and DMR, Bill actively maintains his own repeater system and assists others in keeping their machines running, too. He is the former president of Western New York’s premier radio club, the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club, Assistant Section Manager and Public Information Officer for the Western New York Section, and Youth Coordinator for the Nevada Section. During his tenure as president of the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club, he increased membership by nearly 60% by simply instituting more radio activities after a decline under the previous administration. Bill holds an undergraduate degree in organ performance and business as well as three graduate degrees including a Master of Business Administration.
The Early Years
I was initially licensed on March 5, 2005 by the Volunteer Examiners of the Amateur Radio Association of the Tonawandas. At the time, I was only twelve years old taking an exam in the Cold War-era bunker at the North Tonawanda Fire Headquarters.
My first radio was an Icom-V8000. That was my main radio for several years, and something that I still own. Because western New York stays cold and snowy through mid-April, I was not able to get a station on the air until late April. At that point, I made my first contact on 146.415 MHz to Ross Wullenweber KB2TIN. For those familiar with the area, my station was in the Sheridan and Hopkins area of Williamsville, NY. Ross was bicycle mobile with an HT along the bike path in Niawanda Park. While the span was maybe eight to twelve miles, for a kid doing radio for the first time, I was really impressed.
As time went on, I did a lot of listening on the radio. I spent a solid month listening to conversations and nets trying to figure out how to not sound like a little kid on the air. It’s at this point that I switched from being called William to “Bill.”
I eventually started listening and checking-in every morning to the rag chew group that used to hangout on 146.520 MHz. At the time, Joe Brohman W2PUX was ninety-eight years old, Len Gardener W2QBC was in his mid-nineties, and a bunch of other guys were in their late-sixties to mid-eighties. It was really a treat to spend time listening and talking to guys that had literally lived the rise and fall of Buffalo. Joe W2PUX had this habit of telling stories about bars and taverns making it sound like it was just yesterday. Then you come to find out it his adventure happened during his teens just after WWI.
In August 2005, my mother, brother, and I went to the National Weather Service open house at the National Weather Service Office on Aero Road in the shadow of the runway at Greater Buffalo Niagara International Airport for a Boy Scout merit badge. It was at this event I was introduced to the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club and Luke N2GDU, founder of the premier radio club in the area. He showed us the radio station, the Lancaster Office of Emergency Management Communications Bus, and invited us down to the annual International Lighthouse/Lightship weekend at the Dunkirk Lighthouse the following weekend.
That following weekend, the entire family went for a Sunday afternoon drive about sixty miles south of Buffalo to the Dunkirk Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Erie. It was my first opportunity to play on HF. I had mild success calling CQ, but the HF stuff never really piqued nor caught my interest.
A few weeks after this event Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. My first exposure to radio and emergency communications came helping take radiograms that were radioed into the devastated area by the radio club. While the local AM radio station collected donations outside the Boulevard Mall, we collected radio grams.
The next few years came and went with training activities through the Lancaster Office of Emergency Management and radio club, rag chewing on 146.520 MHz simplex and 146.415 MHz simplex. I spent many Thursday nights over several years as the net control operator for the weekly Amateur Radio Association of the Tonawandas net. I formed a lot of fantastic memories, gained some real-world experience in a variety of things, and developed some lasting friendships during these years. Ham radio was always a part of my life.
My freshman year of college was spent at George Mason University. While a student at Mason, I bought my first HF-rig: a Kenwood TS-2000. My dorm mates, most of whom were engineering or tech-related majors, laughed at me when I would setup my G5RV mini. On one end, it was tied off to the gutter of the dorm. On the other end, it was tied off to the handicap parking sign in the parking lot. “There’s no way that will work,” the claimed. To be honest, I didn’t think that it would, either. I mean, it was a really bad setup. First contact out of the box was to a station just outside of Verona, Italy – home of Shakespeare’s famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Several of them were smitten with radio, and got their licenses. This all happened the night that Osama bin Laden was confirmed dead in Pakistan.
I finished out college as a student at Canisius College. During this time I worked as a Resident Assistant. I became more active with the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club, but this time as an adult. I eventually became president of the club. During this time, I raised our membership nearly 30% breaking the century mark. I held severe weather nets, which had up to sixty check-ins. We also boasted a much higher than active membership. This was achieved by programming Thursday night talks on the already existing social night at the clubhouse. We also did more made-up just for fun events like QRP nights in the local mosquito ponds, known as parks to most of the world, fox hunts, and emergency communication drills.
It was during this time that I was made an Assistant Section Manager and Public Information for the Western New York Section of the ARRL.
I have a ton of great memories doing ham radio in Buffalo. I met a lot of great hams along the way including my first contact, Ross KB2TIN, Ed N2NJJ, Paul K4PEW, Henry VE3UMK, Kevin K9KVN, Joe W2PUX-sk, Len W2QBC-sk, Dave N2RHL-sk, Ron AA2VM, Mike KC2FEN, Luke N2GDU, Phil KC2TPY, Chuck W2EM, Adam KC2YQF, Bob AA2ZW, Bob K2LED, and the list could continue.
The Vegas Journey
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in organ performance and business from Canisius College, I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to pursue graduate studies.
When I first moved to Vegas, getting on the air was a priority to me. Afterall, radio had been such a huge part of my formative years.
I quickly realized that radio in Vegas was going to be a little different.
First thing were the HOAs. I was renting out a room in a condo on the extreme southeast part of the Vegas valley in Henderson. I had a great view of the strip, but was confined to an attic antenna. The next thing I discovered was chicken wire inside of stucco. Houses in Buffalo aren’t made with stucco. HT’s work differently in stucco than out. Third, there was no one on two-meters!
I essentially wrote ham radio in Vegas off until I met Scott K7RSW at a barber shop. He invited me to his 448.875 MHz repeater in downtown Henderson. As they say from there, the rest was history.
While I never was a fan of repeater operation, and by all accounts am still not a fan, I realized that this was where the people were. As the new guy in town, I just wanted to meet some people and make friends.
As time went on, I began to really enjoy the radio. I talked regularly with Austin N2CAT out of Kingman, Arizona on the 145.110 MHz Red Mountain machine and a group of guys on the K7RSW Henderson machine. Coming from Buffalo, where hams got together frequently for lunch and stuff, I was excited to see that that was a reality in Las Vegas, too.
In August 2014, I purchased my first UHF repeater from Kirk NO7BS. The repeater was a simple Motorola GR-1225 that I ran out of my house connected to AllStar Link with the help of Justin KG7FKJ. In February 2015, I bought my first DMR radio, a CS-700. I really enjoyed using it, and I eventually became the first American importer for the Tytera MD-380 DMR radio, which revolutionized digital voice on ham radio. Sadly, while the MD-380 was great as a tool to bring hams into DMR, it opened the doors to those that did not have the best spirit of ham radio in their hearts. By August 2015, many of us had abandoned DMR for P25.
As of this writing, there are nearly a dozen P25 repeaters on the air in Las Vegas. Some are networked. Some are standalone. Some are mixed-mode analog/P25.
To this day, ham radio is still a big part of my life. I own and operate several UHF, GMRS, and 900 repeaters in Nevada and New York. I’m on the air almost daily. I help out new hams by helping the select and program legal and ethical radios that do not cause harmful interference.
I work in public service and as a musician. I hold an undergraduate degree in organ performance and business from Canisius College, a Master of Education from National University, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration from Western Governors University, a Master of Business Administration from Western Govenors University, and a Certificate in Roman Catholic Theology from the University of Notre Dame. I have completed music study at George Mason University, Canisius College, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and the University of Notre Dame.
If you hear me on the air sometime, please give a call back.
Awards and Recognitions
- Winner, 10-10 International Scholarship,July 2014
- Winner, QCWA Scholarship, Quarter Century Wireless Association,July 2014
- Student of the Month, Fine Arts Department, Canisius College, December 2013
- Wood Badge for the 21st-Century, Boy Scouts of America,September 2013
- Who’s Who Amongst Students in American Colleges and Universities, February 2013
- Winner, Msgr. Henry Kawlec Memorial Organ Competition, Church Musicians Guild of Buffalo, June 2011
- Manus Christi Award, Roman Catholic Bishop of Buffalo, February 2010
- Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America,June 2007