One of the hobbies I became involved with from 1977 was amateur radio, often referred to as ham radio. While living in Kaikorai I was only aware of three radio amateurs in my school years, these were Bill Self, Joe Anderson and Eric Dow. As it transpired, I gained my own license and callsign, ZL4PZ, in December 1977. My wife Jeanne also became a licensed radio operator in 1981 and has the callsign ZL4JG.
This is a hobby of radio communication not only on a local level but world wide. Admittedly, these days it does not hold the same excitement as in early years when contacting a station in a distant country was great news. There are still around five thousand amateurs in New Zealand in the 21st century.
Radio regulations introduced in 1923 required amateurs to be licensed, after a successful test on regulations, theory and operating procedures. Prior to this radio was very experimental and initially regulations were not thought to be needed – communication had previously only been possible over limited distances. No-one envisaged being able to communicate over any great distance let alone world wide. These days radio amateurs are able to make two-way contacts with the International Space Station and Space Shuttles by knowing the appropriate orbits and transmitting at those times
ZL4AR W.G.Wilkinson 21 Melrose Street, Roslyn 1928 listing. Licensed as 4AR in 1923.
ZL4BS J.A.(Arthur) Sparrow , engineer – 24 Oban Street. Licensed 1931 also held ZL4FV 1938-1978.
ZL4BU R.W.(Bob) Cook , millhand – 61 Shetland Street. 1933/34 listing. Also proprietor of Cooks Radio shop – initially Moray Place then Princes Street opposite old Century Theatre. Operated Private Broadcasting Station ZL4ZW from 1931. Also connected with 4ZF station in the early 30s.
ZL4BW R.E. Dawson – 29 Tyne Street. Licensed 1930-36? Callsign was re-issued in 1937.
ZL4BZ D.(Dave) Masterton – 40 Brighton Street (later named Beresford St). Shown as ZL4BZ in 1930 listing then no listing till 1956 when shown as ZL4LF at Pukeuri Junction, North Otago.
ZL4CK W.F.(Bill) Self, brewery employee, 30 School Street, Kaikorai. Licensed 1930 and in 1934 he was in charge of the NZART QSL Bureau. Bill also served as an NZART Councillor in pre-war years. An avid and well known CW DXer. He became a silent key (SK) in 1965.
ZL4DQ R.(Roland) Ellis – 32 Greenock Street. 1933/34 listing in Stones Directory says (one of the Ellis family of Arthur Ellis & Co, flock manufacturers, Kaikorai Valley Road – possibly a son). THis call was allocated to someone else in 1935.
ZL4FF A.J.(Andrew?) Nisbet, (Spinner?) 5 Greenock Street, 1938 listing.
ZL4FO S.T.(Sydney Tait) Hudson, 30 Tweed Street, 1933/34 listing. (Managing Director of Cadbury, Fry, Hudson Ltd – Stones Directory information). Shown as living at 4 (or 6) Merlin Street in 1946 depending on whether you believe ham callbook or Stones directory.
ZL4HL J.E.(Jim) Bevan – 9 Tyne Street, Roslyn in 1946 – Licensed 1933 when in Gore.
Other amateurs listed in the area after 1946 were:
ZL4NQ E.J.(Eric) Dow 144 Taieri Road. Held the call from 1955 to 1973 when he died aged 42 years. (SK) in 1973.
ZL4BX J.L.(Joe) Anderson Farley Street. Held the call from 1955 to 2000 when he died aged 92 years. He also held the call ZL4GV for a short period when regulations dictated that a separate call be used for mobile operation or a second location. Joe retired to 757 Brighton Road (Ocean View) where his rotatable aerial was dominant as it was also when he lived in Farley Street. (SK) in 2000.
ZL4DN J.R.(Jim) Sharp cable car gripman on the Kaikorai line was licensed in 1938 when he would have been living at 41 Greenhill Ave, Wakari. He still holds his license in 2010, aged 97 years.
ZL4MX W.A.(Wilf) Govan Lived at 28 Ann Street from about 1972-1990. He was licensed in 1951. He still held his license in 2010. (SK) on 23 May 2010.
ZL4RW W.D.(Bill) Bailey Tyne Street licensed 1984. He still held his license in 2009. (SK)20 April 2009.
Terminology – what some of the words mean.
- Amateur Radio Operator – means a person who has passed and examination on both the appropriate sections of the radio regulations and theory of radio as pertaining to the amateur radio hobby. Often also called ‘Ham Radio‘.
- (SK) – is the abbreviation for “Silent Key” which is the amateur term used when a person with an amateur radio license dies. This is derived from the early years of amateur radio when the only means of communication was by the means of Morse code – hence, their Morse key became ‘silent’.
- QSL – the letters QSL were part of the original series of abbreviations used with Morse code. This overcame the long-winded sending of words which were in common use but wasted a lot of time if the complete word was sent. In the case of QSL, this meant Acknowledge, or “do you acknowledge?”, or “yes I acknowledge”, so it could be used as both a question or a response. This was a code referred to as the “Q” code, as each abbreviation was preceded by the letter ‘Q’. Similarly, QTH meant location, and could mean either “What is your location?”, or “My location is__________”.
- QSL Card – refers to the printed card, same size as postcard, which was sent by post in the early years of radio communication. These cards were sought after as confirmation of having made contact with another station in some foreign country and the cards adorned many a radio amateurs walls in the room where they used their transmitters. These days cards from the International Space Station or the NASA Space Shuttles are keenly sought where it is more commonplace to be able to contact virtually any country in the World without too much difficulty.
- ZL4 – signifies the New Zealand region for amateur radio ranging from the Waitaki River, South to Stewart Island and encompassing the area from East to West coasts. The two or sometimes three letters after this prefix are the personal identification of an individual amateur operator.
(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)