I grew up in rural North Dade County (Miami), Florida and graduated from North Miami Senior High School in 1958. I joined the United States Navy (age 17) and honorably served 3 1/2 years at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. If I had reenlisted, I would have started the 2nd tour as an ADR2 (E-5).
In May of 1962 I became a firefighter for the City of Miami. I retired as a firefighter/paramedic almost 30 years later with the same passion for the job as I did the day I joined. It was truly a wonderful career and a great way to give back to those in need.
The sparkle of radio hit me when I was quite young. I would listen for hours to a Zenith Transoceanic radio to everything I could. Of all the things that intrigued me about radio was ordinary people talking about everyday things. At the time very few “hams” lived near me and with school and Boy Scouts, I was busy.
It was in the Navy that I got to ask questions and start to learn about the hobby that would later become my passion. I had the chance to visit the base radio station which was in touch with many distant lands, ships at sea and, of course, Washington DC. My favorite story is when I worked my first ever DX contact. As a firefighter on duty, I heard a radio ID of another fire apparatus that was giving his location on a specific runway which was the runway I was on. I asked for more details thinking the tower dispatched the wrong unit. Turns out he was in Memphis and not at Lakehurst where I was located. Wow, first 6M DX contact, well sort of.
My ham career started out as a CB’er. I was given a callsign of KDI1667 and operated very legally. One didn’t take a chance when Jack May and Art Gilbert, FCC engineers, lived close by in your locality. Jack would later administer my Technician, General, Advanced Class tests and all the commercial license tests up to 1st Telephone with radar endorsement.
In the early years of my Fire Dept. career, I worked off duty for a commercial 2 way radio shop. I ended up doing various antennas and transmission line installs on 50 to 1800 foot towers. This was by far the most exciting off duty job I ever had. I received a lot my repeater building education from this job and have since helped many groups set up systems.
I have been an ARRL Life Member for over 30 years. I am active as a Volunteer Examiner for both the ARRL and W5YI. I have mentored at least one new amateur radio operator since I became an active ham. To date, directly or indirectly, I have mentored over 100 new operators in the 43 years I have been licensed.
As a new Novice (WN4NAZ), I built a single tube transmitter putting out 40 watts and used a Drake 2C receiver and had a ball. As a technician operator (WB4NAZ), I was involved in 2M and UHF FM. In 1973, I upgraded to General at the FCC office in Miami and a month later upgraded to Advanced Class (KB4ES). In 2000, I upgraded to a 13 WPM Extra (KJ4G) so I could rag chew with friends and work around the bands.
We as hams are very fortunate to be in the hobby at this time. There are so many different ways to enjoy what is available and to be able to mentor new folks so they can be part of it also. The technology is advancing faster than I would have ever imagined and I really love being part of it.
Studying and building antennas is a large part of my hobby. Operating weak signals and digital modes is becoming a favorite and I have been active on 60 M and QRP. Operations on HF are with barefoot power or less.
Being a member of the North Florida D-Star Group in Tallahassee, we are dedicated to learn, build, teach and operate this new mode of ham radio. We sponsor the NF4DG D-Star full repeater stack. There is so much that can be gained from these systems, both for general amateur use and for Emergency Communications. I’m proud to be associated with all of these active and interested amateurs and the ones throughout the state that are working and building this mode of communications.
When Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP retired in 2008 as the ARRL Northern Florida Section Manager for 18 years, I was elected to this position. I have had the pleasure to work with and be part of so many amateurs, ARES groups and clubs who are working to make the hobby better than ever.
Maybe someday we will meet on the air. The QRZ address is correct and the station(s) is operated in EM70QJ. Soon I will be on eQSO and loTW. I will have QSL cards soon and will start replying.
73, Paul, KJ4G