or What is WX8DX?
WX8DX is the
Amateur ("Ham") Radio Station callsign of Craig Wicks.
That's me. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I now
reside in Roanoke, Virginia. This page is my Radio biography of
sorts... kind of a laid-back reflection of my years turning the
dial. Radio has been a major influence on me throughout my life
and I've been involved in some facet of the radio hobby for as
long as I can remember: Mediumwave and Shortwave
listening, Crystal radios, Walkie-Talkies, Antennas, Scanners, and
Amateur Radio. Now there's
Satellite radio, and the Internet with
streaming audio and links to radio stations across the
globe. Even the ability to chat with people around the
world! The world of radio has changed a lot, but today it's more
important than ever. When All Else Fails... Amateur Radio!
earliest radio experiences began in the 1950s. Even then several
of the more popular radio programs were still on the air. I recall
the Lone Ranger most vividly. My brother Kevin and I were already
avid listeners at that young age, and especially enjoyed radio
"DXing" (listening to distant stations). At night, on a
used AM (tube) radio I bought for $2, we strained our ears
listening to radio stations all over the United States and Canada.
We were amazed that we were able to hear stations so far away!
During the late
1960s, listening to distant stations became more than just an
enjoyable pastime, it became a downright necessity! My sports
passion was (and is) Ice Hockey and my long time friend Rob
Z. and I were BIG fans of the Detroit Red Wings
and Boston Bruins. At the time, cable wasn't
available in Grand Rapids so the only choice we had for following
our teams was to listen to radio play-by-play coverage. I remember
many an evening struggling to hear Boston radio station WBZ
as it faded up and down. I hope to have a sampler of excerpts from
some of these broadcasts in the future.
During this same time frame, I was
actively pursuing the hobby of Shortwave
and Broadcast Band (AM) DXing.
Rob and I used to listen regularly to Larry Glick,
a late night talk show host on WBZ
and Harry Abrams with "Jazz After
Midnight" on WHAM
out of Rochester, New York. I roamed the airwaves on Shortwave,
QSLing (obtaining verification cards from a broadcaster that
confirms your reception of their station) and building antennas.
Even taking the radio "thing" one step further by
incorporating our listening experience into a fictitious radio
station: WVFQ - Radio 102. It was great!
the Vietnam War
was still raging by the time I reached my 18th birthday and I
ended up getting a "winning" number in the draft lottery
(#75). Rather than wait for the Army to take me, I decided to join
the USAF. My primary career aptitude: Radio (go
figure)... On August 8th, 1972 I was on my way! Basic training at Lackland AFB
(San Antonio, Texas); tech school at Keesler AFB
(Biloxi, Mississippi); and finally my permanent base assignment as
Ground Radio Communications Equipment Repairman (AFSC 30454) with
the 18th Comm Squadron, 99th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force, Strategic
Air Command, at Westover
AFB, Massachusetts (near Springfield). I worked at the Receiver Site located at the Stoney Brook section of the base. In 1975, I was
transferred from Westover to the Air National Guard
base at Battle Creek, Michigan, where I was a
"weekend warrior" until receiving my honorable discharge
1978 I came up with the idea of utilizing my radio knowledge and
experience by providing local broadcasters with a radio-based news
gathering resource called NEWS/SCAN. Two years
later, the service was expanded to include news programming under a
new name: Independent News Watch. There is much to
tell about these two and that's worthy of another page (if you're
interested, click the INW logo on the right).
In 1986 I
finally became a licensed Amateur Radio Operator.
My Novice callsign was KA8YWF
and was changed to N8HIB when I upgraded later
that year to Technician class. After passing my General and
Advanced exams early in '87, I decided to keep N8HIB until the
Advanced callsigns got close to a series I liked. You see, I had
learned that certain ham callsigns were "heard better"
by DX stations ("X" being a prime attention getter).
Talk of vanity calls stirred my imagination... "WX" in
radio shorthand means "Weather" and as I said earlier
"DX" means "Distance" or contacting people in
far away lands - two facets of the hobby I enjoy the most! When
vanity callsigns became a reality, I patiently waited until FCC
Vanity Application Gate 3 (for Advanced class licensees) opened
and I submitted mine. WX8DX was issued to me in
September 1997... eleven years later. Listen to my First Australian Contact (7 MB).
So that's my personal radio saga in
a nutshell. And BTW, the strange background
graphic for this site is Morse code for WX8DX Online. Thought I'd
best relieve your frustration...
73 (Best wishes), de Craig,