The Amateur Amateur: Reality Amateur Radio
By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
April 2022 (April Fool!)
With the proliferation of reality TV shows, I guess that it was inevitable
that the FCC (Fantasy Communications Commission) would eventually
authorize Reality Amateur Radio. The ink was barely dry on its Report
and Order before applications came pouring in. Some were quite novel.
But others looked suspiciously familiar.
Sister Wires -
A group of sisters, who all happen to be married to the same man,
travel from site to site connecting guy wires to tall masts that
aren't properly anchored. It's unclear whether their motivation is
safety, or just to spend some time away from “Husband”,
who stays at home in his own private enclave. Given his looks (and his
breath), one cannot be sure.
Big Holes in the Ground -
A crack team of Amateur Radio operators make the trip to sinkholes,
abandoned excavations, and subsidence zones looking for any place
that doesn't have an HOA. The idea is to pour a lot of concrete and
form bases for very tall towers. Problems abound when they can't get
permits, get run off of private land, and lose two concrete trucks as
they slowly disappear into the soft ground.
Uncontacted Island -
Formerly called The Last Grid Square, a stalwart band of
investigators goes in a futile search for an island, any island,
that has not yet been worked by Dxers. Anything that might
have been available is, or soon will be, covered with water.
Love Me, Love My Rig -
Bachelor Amateur Radio operators seek women to marry. Specifications are that
the prospective wives will never complain or frown when the operator
declines to attend the wedding of the wife's sister. Also, they
should sit quietly in a corner knitting when the bands are hot. So
far this particular Reality Amateur Radio project has a failure rate
Seeking Nazi Radios -
German engineering having the reputation of lasting forever, hopeful
searchers go all over the globe seeking World War II radio equipment.
Using dubious rumors, unqualified “experts”, and
misinterpreted maps, these cheerful fellows never give up. They also
never find anything. They do, however, occasionally wind up brawling
with Big Holes in the Ground
team members about who has the right to risk their necks going down
Naked Except for My Handheld -
The less said, the better.
The Bands Are Hot At the Top of the World -
These brave teams climb active volcanoes to operate from high altitudes.
Their theory is that hot lava acts as a perfect ground reflector,
really giving their signals a punch.
It's not clear whether or not the premise is valid, as none of the teams
have reported back yet.
Battle Watts -
Members compete with each other. Initially, the idea was to see who could
make the most distant contacts. It later devolved into trying to blow
each other off the air with sheer power. Some operators have actually
succeeded in melting wires, blowing fuses, and shorting feed lines.
But so far, only on their own stations.
Fast Bands -
This attempt at combining illegal street drag racing and mobile radio is
still looking for a way to meld the two pursuits. Problems
encountered so far include -
blowing up as soon as the driver stomps on the accelerator
a second occupant in the car to handle the radio adds unwanted
being ripped off of the cars during acceleration
flying off of the cars during deceleration
radio operator only being able to squeak as the acceleration
compresses his chest
race being over before the radio operator can complete his call sign
Real Hamwives of Newington Connecticut -
These women are licensed to gossip. Snide remarks include chatting about a
third party's old, out-of-date equipment, the state of cleanliness of
her shack, how she was only able to obtain a rather pathetic vanity
call sign, and the fact that her two-year-old doesn't yet know Morse
Backyard Tower Crash -
No one signed up for this until the name was changed to Backyard
Tower Hoist. Then it looked as though it would be successful, despite
numerous HOAs, FAA challenges, and Molotov
Cocktails tossed into the yard by irate neighbors. What killed it
off, however, was the friends recruited to help had no skills and a
no sense of safety (a lot of beer was consumed during the projects).
Eventually, the original name became a common reality, and the whole
idea was scrapped.
The Loudest Voice -
Operators vie with each other to dominate the airwaves. Very poor Amateur Radio
etiquette. Lots of fuses get blown.
Supernatural Signals -
A group of operators will take their specialized equipment and
knowledge and go anywhere there is said to paranormal activity. Using
the power of self-delusion, they can positively identify almost any
phenomenon as having an otherworldly source. Other
than their own confident assurances, however, the only actual
documentation was of a ten-year-old neighborhood boy using an
illegally modified CB rig and moaning, “OOOOOooooooooooohhhh....,”
over the air.
Surrender Your License -
This is a court drama in which hams accused of operating illegally are
given an opportunity to defend themselves. Lots of intense drama, but
the results are always the same.
Glitter Hunt -
Rugged, well-outfitted operators go out in the field looking for gold. They
aren't trying to get rich from what they find, they just use it to
coat their connectors.
Flip This Shack -
A house-flipping company has a small specialty team that comes in
whenever a radio shack is discovered on the premises. The team cleans
it up, modernizes it, and puts in all brand-new equipment. Nine times
out of ten the original owner will buy back the house.
As Seen From Space -
There are reality TV shows in which the producers scan huge numbers of
satellite photos looking for “the inexplicable”. The As
Seen From Space Reality
Amateur Radio project, however, consist of ham operators looking for
isolated places where they can erect exotic stations without
incurring the wrath of local residents or governments. Potential
sites must, however, be within a few miles of a Starbucks.
E-mail Gary Ross Hoffman