Green Bay Area Ham Radio History

{draft - in progress}

I believe you have to know where you have been in order to know where you are going.  And history sometimes has a funny way of repeating itself.  I have often wondered the area history, and have heard bits and pieces mentioned here and there by the older guys on the air and at meetings.  I decided it was time to try and write things down. 

This project started in 2015 after discovering the Green Bay Mike and Key Club, the oldest remaining ham club in the area is now 75 years old.  I quickly realized that this should have been done long ago, as in the last 5 or so years we lost two originals, Jerry Van and Ollie Davis, who I had known of, but not the extent of their involvement and history.

I encourage someone else to take this information and put it into a more presentable form, like power point.

Comments / corrections and additions are welcome to, kb9mwr [at] qsl [dot] net.

Update: I am going to be loading most of what is here and some other stuff into a NE WI Ham collection that is more browseable/mobile friendly on 

Special thanks to the following folks for their contributions from their collections: K9GB, W8JYZ, N2BTD, K9LWI, AB9PJ, KC9KMA, & W9ZR. 

References/ Supplemental Information

Ham obits - Select key hams and research list

Ham Radio News - Granular detail of ham activity transcribed Green Bay Press Gazette news and club minutes

Local archive of old calls - text csv dump (txt)

WHBY - The Inception And Early History Of "The Voice Of The Fox River Valley" - by Milton C. Strebel - This is a detailed account of the Norbertine's involvement with starting the area's first radio station

WTAQ Radio - The St. Norbert College Station - 1936 (pdf)

WTAQ - Going Forward With Radio - Album - 1942 (pdf)

The History Of The Milwaukee Radio Amateurs’ Club Inc. “MRAC” 1917 - Present (pdf)

Badger State Smoke Signals - 1983-2009 - A statewide publication for amateur radio operators.

MRAC 100 Years - The Milwaukee Radio Amateurs' Club has been around since 1917. MRAC has had a rich history of being an active amateur radio organization. (YouTube)

9XM Talking - History of WHA University of Wisconsin radio station (Amazon) - David Gleason's extensive site.

1937 Press Gazette ham articles - about the first, but short lived Green Bay Amateur Radio Club 

Old callbooks - 60+ from 1909-1997 - I collected and digitized a call book for each year one was printed.  

A look at Green Bay Repeaters Over the Years (pdf)

Green Bay's first hams

1920 is the earliest trace of any hams in Green Bay that I have found, There appears to be no one on the books before the World War I era for the area.

9APA,1920,Alton R. Janelle, 333 S. Jackson St., Green Bay,Wis
9AZV,1920,Harry Haskins, 1127 Chicago St., Green Bay,Wis
9BUT,1920,Elmer O. Eisenman, 420 S. Jackson St., Green Bay,Wis
9CTS,1920,Finley C. Peacock, 915 Howard St., Green Bay,Wis
9CSX,1923,Emmet Platten, 218 Oakland Ave. N., Green Bay,Wis
9ARD,1924,Clarence E. Toonen,615 George St.,DePere,Wis
9BWU,1924,Bethhold A. Halfpap,300 S. Oakland Ave,Green Bay,Wis

Green Bay's first female ham didn't come till Sept 1951.  W9OPV, Grace A Kehoe

Green Bay Press Gazette, February 5, 1924 front page reads "Green Bay Radio Fan Relays Message From "WMAQ."  It details possibly the first publicly documented amateur activity for the area.  It concerns an emergency information request call from WMAQ,  the Chicago Daily News.  "Give us anything you can get regarding existing train and wire conditions around Green Bay.  Communicate with Chicago via amateur radio or any other means possible." Two area amateurs respond to the call; 9BUT, Elmer Eiseman, and 9BWU, Berthhold Halfpap.  There was a ranging snow storm with 40 mile per hour winds that had grounded area trains.

The Start of the Green Bay Mike & Key Club

October 28, 1999

I am writing in response to the request in Key Clicks on information on the origin and age of the club. I can help you. I am Oliver Davis, W9WLZ, a life member of the club.

Let me go back a bit. I was introduced to amateur radio by Glen Schlingerman (W9WWQ) in 1935. I took my first amateur exam by Al Janelle Sr. (W9CEA), at the home of George Klak (W9EFL), a teacher at East High School, in 1936. 

At that time there was a radio club called the Green Bay Amateur Radio Club. The club met at various homes. Attendance was very small. Jerry Van W9VOW, and I are the only remaining members of this club. Meetings had been discontinued.

In the Winter of 1938 and into 1939 Glen Schlingerman and I went to Badger State Radio, owned by Harold Dole, W9CTH, regarding the start of a radio club. Harold agreed to using his store at 521 E. Walnut Street to organize the club.

I had access to an old hand cranked memeo machine. I obtained the addresses of all the amateurs in the area from the Call Book. I sent out a notice regarding the organizing a new club. The response was great.

A meeting was held at Badger State Radio. Harold was appointed temporary president, Al Janelle was appointed treasurer and I was appointed secretary. With the help of Advance Printing (309 N. Adams St),  I designed the membership card which was used for many years.. The key cut in the center was obtained from Signal Electric in Marinette. I received the first card dated March 14, 1939. I sent this card to the club several years ago to be kept by the club historian.  We were issued a charter of ARRL affiliation (number 1922) October 21, 1939.

At that time we were the only club in the area and we had members coming from all the surrounding communities. Attendance was usually around 75 to 100. We were a member of the ARRL and participated in many of their events. On several occasions officials from the league attended our meetings. 

Over the years we had several different meeting places. YMCA, Naval Reserve Armory, Wisconsin Public Service and the Red Cross.

All on the air amateur activities were discontinued during World War II (Dec 1941 - Nov 1945) with the exception of  War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) on the high frequency bands. We had no club meetings, however I sent out regular reports of any amateur activities.

With the ending of the war I sent out a notice to all former members regarding resuming meetings. We met at the old Red Cross headquarters at Walnut and Jefferson. Again we had a very active club which I am pleased your present members are continuing. Keep up the good work for the future of amateur radio.

Oliver Davis

February 27, 1940 - Green Bay Press Gazette

"Y" Club to have Meet

Members of the Mike and Key Club of the YMCA will hold their first annual get together tonight at the Y.

The group is composed of amateur operators in Green Bay and the surrounding communities who are interested in radio research work.  The club meets every Tuesday evening and has an enrollment of 33 members.

Amateur radio fans who belong to the Mike and Key Club are residents of nine different communities, including in addition to Green Bay, Seymour, Hilbert, Wrightstown, Appleton, Neenah, Brussels, Oconto Falls, and Shawano.  All members of the club are invited to participate in tonight's social function and are asked to bring their ladies as guests.

The club is a member of the National Organization of Amateurs of the American Radio Relay League.  Officers include William Terp president, Glenn Schlingerman, vice president, and Oliver Davis, secretary-treasurer.

Other member in the group are Harold Dole, Fred Rahr, Barney Engles, George Lord, Jerry Van, Harry Haskins, Al Janelle, Lloyd Root, Vic Lotter, Joe Lotter, Joe Berger, Les Berkle, Harold Walch, Harvey Mattes, Harry Staszak, Walter Stromberg, John Varney, George Bellinger, Jim Hyskey, Lowell Zable, Ralph Hoffman, Doc Holtz, Ambrose McKloskey, Harold Reid, Guy Theeke, Myron Vannes, Al Ives, Orville Badeau, Ken Bisel, and Charles Sanders.

We suspect the first meeting place, the YMCA might have had something to do with this 1938 callbook entry: W9WJH-A. F. Houston, c/o YMCA. Green Bay,Wis.

And after that the Naval Reserve Armory on Hubbard Street.  Late 40's early 50's?   WB9ADN U.S. Nav. & Mar. Corps RTC, Hubbard St.

Sadly there are no written records that were retained over the years for the club before 1955.  All we have is Oliver's letter and the Press Gazette article.


In January 1956, the Green Bay Mike and Key Club began the process to incorporate.  The reason was to remove the personal liability that of anything done in the name of the club. 

In March 1956 a motion was made by Greg Schneider W9IEI to obtain a club call, and to have the club secretary in 1956, Hobart "Hub" Paine, W9IKY to be trustee.  By August the callsign K9EAM was issued.   

In 1968-69 hams meet at First Wisconsin Bank every Friday to pass messages for families who had loved ones in the  the Vietnam War that was going on.  The bank wanted us to be able to make phone patches and they bought us a Drake HF station to enable this.

A second loose formation of hams more focused on VHF and UHF started to emerge in the late 1950s to 60's? when two-meter AM and ATV were emerging.  This was known later as the North East Wisconsin VHF Society.  Early VHF pioneers included;  W9VGL Art Schmidt, W9LYX Louie Pansier, W9GFL Paul Kehl, W9OMT Joe Taylor (later W9JO), and W9JTZ Henry (Hank) A Colwell.  This group really started to grown when 2 meter FM started took off in the early 1970s, when Dennis Dal Santo, WA9SXN, and Tim Selner, WA9SRW, and Jerry Wygralak, WB9KOA got involved.

In 1968-1969 the first area repeaters we built by Joe Taylor, W9OMT and Louie Pansier, W9LYX, but they were mostly experimental and located at their house.

The first advertised Green Bay repeater got going by Tim Selner, WA9SRW and Dennis Dal Santo, WA9SXN.  It was on 146.288 at the downtown Civil Defense office in the basement of the court house, range was still not the best.  This existed from roughly 1970-1973 at this location.

William J. (Bill) Galbraith, (licensed later as KA9DYT in the 80’s) came as the Executive Director/chapter manager of the Red Cross in 1961 and served till 1984.  When Bill came the first Red Cross offices were in rooms above Nau's Clothing Store on Washington Street.  He moved the chapter to an office building on South Adams Street when he started in 1961.  

The Lakeland Chapter was formed on May 17, 1964 with the merger of the Brown County, Menominee County and Shawano County chapters.  A new chapter building in 1965 at 123 South Van Buren Street.  After the downtown Red Cross building was completed in the summer of 1966, the club moved their meetings from Wisc. Public Service to the Red Cross on Van Buren Street.  

In late 1976, the Lakeland Red Cross chapter moved to its current home at 2131 Deckner Ave. in Green Bay.  We had a 100 foot tower at the Deckner Avenue location.

Bill was our pull to get hams on the WFRV tower in July of 1972. Range for weather spotting/disaster relief was limited from the Red Cross. Bill talked to Harry Hill, the WFRV engineer.  Interestingly enough, Harry Hill had attended a few Mike and Key Club meetings in the 1950's when he was just out of school exploring his radio interest.

The North East Wisconsin VHF Society was the pioneering group building and funding the repeaters.  The 147.120 first came into existence in 1972 as WR9ADS on the WFRV tower.  Channel 5 did an news interview of Dennis, Tim Selner, on the tower installing the antenna.

The North East Wisconsin VHF Society was dissolved in 1986 and became the VHF-UHF arm of the Mike and Key Club.  For quite some time both clubs talked about combining into one organization.  The reasons for the move were many.  Eighty percent of the membership was the same in both clubs.  The membership is paying for two insurance policies.  And the purpose of the clubs had become nearly the same; Community service, etc.

It wasn't till 1989 that the Green Bay Mike and Key Club filed for a non-profit status thanks to the work of Mike Willis, W9TQV/KE9QV.  The non-profit status helped the financial survivability of the club, when costs of tower and repeater work were depleting the treasury.

When the Dale Keltner came to replace Bill Galbraith as the new Executive Director of the Red Cross Green Bay in August 1984, the relationship between the Red Cross and amateur radio went down hill quick. The Spring of 1992 was the end our relationship with the Red Cross.

However the Green Bay Mike and Key Club's continued relationship with WFRV enables us to be able to provide communications for a number of public service events, ranging from coordinating communications for walks and races to supporting weather spotting.

St. Norbert College / Norbertine Fathers

Fortunately St. Norbert's College was gracious and enthusiastic about providing the club with a home and a roof to install a repeater and phone lines. Randy Ciha’s (KB9EWJ) wife (Christine) was the secretary to the Dean at the college at the time (Dr. Thomas Trebon?) and she put in the good word and made the request for us.  This is likely due to a history of radio with the Norbertine Fathers, owning WHBY, WTAQ and WBAY till 1975.  

Then in 1974 a low power 10 watt FM radio station (WGBP) at Premontre High School till 1990 when it became Notre Dame.  It was started by Clayton J. Toonen (1923-2011) who taught there for 25 years.  Prior to this at Premontre Rev. Charles T. Urban, W9ZEQ taught math at Premontre from approx 1954-1969 and had a Drake ham station setup at the school. Paul Schumacher K9TRB, John Delwiche, K9TRC helped form the Premontre Radio Club in 1960,  Many others followed.  Charles Urban was also active in the 1950's with helping the Green Bay Mike and Key Club organize lists of local amateurs among other things.

Related calls from callsign research, 

9ARD,1924,Clarence E. Toonen,616 George St., De Pere,Wis
9BIT,1926,St. Norberts College,Grant St., West DePere,Wis
9BIK,1925,Gordon Brozek, 514 Northern Ave., Green Bay, Wis (employed by WHBY later engineer at WDMJ)
W9BIT,1929,St. Norberts College,Grant St., West DePere,Wis
9AZV/W9FWO, Harry Haskins, 127 Chicago St., Green Bay,Wis (would play piano on WHBY)
9CSX,1923,Emmet Platten, 218 Oakland Ave. N., Green Bay,Wis (would play records on WHBY)
W9BMO,1932,Albert F. LeMieux, St. Norbert College, West DePere,Wis
W9YR,1932,St. Norbert College, James A. Wagner, Engineering Bldg., De Pere,Wis
W9GMZ,1937,Paul A. Montavon, St. Norbert College, West DePere,Wis (WTAQ announcing staff)
W9GYQ,1940,George E. Merkl, 832 W. Oklahoma St. Appleton, WI (Chief Engineer WHBY)
W9SVD,1969,Edward J. Landreman, De Pere, WI (WTAQ Technical Staff)
W9QFH,1937,Anton E. Horvath, WHBY Transmitter Bldg., West De Pere,Wis
W9STY,1937,James A. Wagner, 209 S. Adams, Green Bay, Wis. 
W9CTH,1938,Harold A. Dole, 421 N. Norwood Av., Green Bay,Wis (WTAQ operating engineer)
K9GAM,1958,Rene L. Petiu (Rev), St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, WI. 
K9GAM,1962,Rene L. Petit,St Norbert Abbey,De Pere,WI
KN9GAO,1957,Christopher D. Novy, Saint Norbert Abbey,West De Pere,WI
W9AAN/W9MQA,1962,Herbert Zwarra, St. Norbert Abby, W. De Pere WI
KN9IOF, Wm. Schmidt, St. Norbert High School, W. De Pere, WI.
K9ZEQ,1962,Charles T. Urban (Rev), 506 Maryhill Dr, Green Bay, WI 
W9URY,Richard C. Shafer (Rev), 437 Main St, Wrightstown, WI
KN9TUV,Sister Mary D. Hunt, 1224 12th Ave, Green Bay, WI.
8DAX,1920,Cletus J. Collom, 1004 Smith St., Essexville, MI (SNC student)
8AXE,1921,Cletus J. Collom, 1004 Smith St., Essexville, MI (SNC student)
8DAX,1924,Cletus J. Collom, R.F.D. 2, Pinconning, MI (SNC student)
W9OMT,1960,Joseph A. Taylor, 815 Phoebe St. Green Bay (WBAY-TV chief engineer)
W9QYH,1954,Carlton O. Schaaf, 1605 Ridge Rd, Green Bay, WI (WBAY-TV engineer)
W9BVL,1954,William G. Lindeke, RFD 6, Green Bay,Wis (WBAY/WPNE engineer)
W9BKD,1954,Ronald I. Mac Donald, 1348 Desnoyer St, Green Bay,Wis (WBAY-TV engineering)
WB9GPL,1972, Bernard M Weinandt, Rockdale St Green Bay (WHBY/WBAY-TV)
K9GG,1981,William G. Lindeke, 816 N Clay St, De Pere WI (WBAY/WPNE engineer)

WHBY was the first radio station in North East Wisconsin. It was licensed to operate in 1925 in De Pere.. Even though it began operating under a commercial license in 1925, it had been on the air several years prior to that as a special project of the physics department of St. Norbert College in De Pere.  

WHBY, was built on the St. Norbert campus by a student engineer and inventor, Cletus Collom (1898-1994), in the mid-1920s. He was supported by the Rev. Ignatius Van Dyke, Coach George Carey and a Norbertine seminarian, James Arthur Wagner.  

Wagner, who had always enjoyed experimenting with crystal radio sets, applied for the permit for a campus radio station. The call letters, WHBY, were said to have stood for “Where Happy Boys Yodel.

The transmitter and studios were originally in Boyle Hall at the college.  The antenna was on the roof of the hall, and equipment was on the fourth floor.  The antenna consisted of a four wire inverted L cage, 18 inches in diameter, 60 feet long, supported by two steel masts on the roof of Boyle Hall.  This was balanced by a ten wire counterpoise directly beneath the antenna in the basement.  The transmitter had an input of 500 watts and an output of 100 watts. The Heising system of modulation with the speech amplifier with Hertley oscillation was used.

By 1930 the transmitter was moved off campus, and the studios moved to downtown Green Bay, first the Columbus Club (1928), then atop the Bellin Building.

The Bellin building in downtown Green Bay was built in 1915 and originally only had seven stories. In 1924, Bellin added an eighth and ninth story penthouse.  One of the first tenants on the top floor was WHBY radio (1930-34) , then later WTAQ (1934 forward) operated by the Norbertine Fathers.  It served as the main studios and general offices for the radio station.

In 1934 the Norbertines built a new facility in Appleton, the new home of WHBY. The new building included a transmitter room, studios and living quarters for the engineer.

The Norbertines started the first area AM station, WHBY in 1925, and then moved WTAQ to the area in 1934 (from Eau Claire) to attain a high power station.  They subsequently moved WHBY to Appleton.  They started experimenting with FM as WTAQ-FM (102.5) in 1948. They started WBAY-TV in 1953. By 1960 they assumed the 101.1 frequency and change all call letters to WBAY (AM, FM and TV). Sep 1975, they sold WBAY-AM and WBAY-FM station to Midwest Communications, due to the new (pending) FCC requirements concerning the number of media outlets owned by one entity.  WBAY-FM became WIXX, WBAY-AM, became WGEE in 1975.  WHBY was sold to Telegraph-Herald Inc.

Brown County Emergency Government

Unfortunately ham radio operators of the area have never had a meaningful rapport with Brown County.  Other adjacent counties like Door, and Kewaunee have had a more complementary relationship with the amateur community, offering tower/building space in recognition for their service to the community.

From our records the Brown County Emergency Director (note prior to 1966 the position was titled Brown County Civil Defense Director):

John B. Holloway 1954-1960
Arthur E. Norgaard 1960-1971
Mel Peterson 1971-1974
A. William Evans 1975-1982
Colette Blum 1983-1986
Ted Van Rossum 1987-1990 
Bill Craig 1991
Clyde Cribb 1993-1997
Mary Oja 1999-2001
Cullen Peltier 2002


Ownership history since we have been on the tower:
Orion Broadcasting 1970's
Midwest Radio & TV 1981
CBS Owned and Operated (Green Bay network flip) 1992
Liberty Media 2007
Nexstar 2011

Chief Engineer
Harry Hill 1970's (ironically he attended some GBMK meetings in the 1950s as he was interested in the hobby, but never got licensed) (eng: 1955-1986)
Norm Koelbl 1987
Dan Ulmer 1991
Greg Bennett 1997 (past away in 2013)
Dale Mitchel 2000 (now at WBAY)
Dan Dyer 2010

Ham radios involvement with the present-day Green Bay Weather Service dates back to the early to mid 1980’s. Bill, WD9HLN and Ron, WB9MFB were the first to kindle the relationship with William (Bill) Ierien, the Official In Charge at the NWS at the time. The relationship continues today to help aide the weather office in collecting reports and data from that critical area below where the Doppler radar can see.

Hams working at the office: Bob Sanders, N9LXM, Kolly Mars, KB9ZTZ, Jeff Last KC9ESR.

The present office was built in 1993.  Prior to this it was located in a temporary office (1989-1994) on the corner of 173 and South Point Rd (Just a half a block from where they are now).  From 1949 to 1989 the office was located at the Airport on the second floor of the Terminal building.  From 1945-1949 the office was located on the East side of Green Bay on North Henry Street. 

Prior to the 80's ham weather spotting and disaster relief was done mostly through the Red Cross, such as the Tornado of 1959 that cut a narrow path though Ashwaubenon and Green Bay.  Annual talks and weather training to hams were given from Herb Bomalaski, the long time (1944-1970) and areas first government weather forecaster.  In 1949 Herb established and instituted the Weather Broadcasting Service in Green Bay being the first "voice on the air" to broadcast weather.  He was the Meteorologist In Charge at Green Bay until his retirement in 1970. 

The North East Wisconsin Radio League NEWRL was formed in the onset of the no-code technician license boom in 1989 by disenfranchised/alienated hams of the Mike and Key Club, to provide some competition. The group built a linked repeater system connecting Algoma, Green Bay and Waubeno, which was useful in collecting weather spotting reports.

The club dissolved in 2000. The remaining transformed into more of a "Skywarn" focused network of operators and repeater maintenance organization, the Packerland Amateur Skywarn Society (PASS).  A recording of the last NEWRL net can be found here on the internet archive.

The Ashwaubenon High School Tech Club was a ham club that formally existed from 1992-1998.  Informally ham radio activity at the school traces back to the early 70's when Gerry McCartney, a tech ed teacher, learned about a civil defense grant and submitted paperwork to acquire some ham radio equipment.  Another tech-ed teacher Ken Rudie, N9ZRU was the club advisor when it formally existed in the 90's.  John Fisher, N9XOI a science teacher, was also a ham.  In that 6 year period more than 15 young hams came from Ashwaubenon, and over 21 total.

The East High School Megacycle Ham Radio Club - W9JPH existed from 1954-1979?  when Bob Showers (W9HDV) was a Physics teacher at East.  His wife, Ora Showers (W9RNS) was a English teacher at Preble.   Bob, W9HDV was in charge of the East's radio club in 1954 per the Rhinelander Daily News.  And we know from Oliver Davis' letter that George Klak (W9EFL), was a teacher at East High School, in 1936.  In the back of Bob's classroom was a door to a supply room that doubled as Bob's office.  He had a ham station in the back room, licensed as W9JPH, the East High School Megacycle Ham Radio Club.  Larry Steeno, K9LWI first got licensed in 1958 as part of a Novice class that Mr. Showers taught.  Mel Stommen, WN9MCC (now K9GB) first got licensed in 1964 as a Freshman and first got on the air for the East High station.

West High's Hamateurs was a ham club at the school in the late 50's (1957).  William Johnston (W9NZL) a mathematics teacher was the club advisor.

An amateur radio club - the Phantom ARCS, was organized in 1961 at West De Pere High School.  It was in conjunction with another club at Abbot Pennings High School.

As mentioned before there was a ham club at Premontre from approx 1954-1969?. Rev. Charles T. Urban, W9ZEQ taught math at Premontre.  He had Drake ham station setup at the school. Paul Schumacher K9TRB, John Delwiche, K9TRC helped form the Premontre Radio Club in 1960,  Many others followed.  From the 1962 Teen Field Day newspaper clipping we learn: Pat Humphreys (WN9EEP) was a Junior at East; Chip Williams (K9WRD) and Dan Servais (WN9AJW), Juniors at Premontre; Pete Zawasky (K9AGC), sophomores at Premontre.

Notable Activities: 

May 11, 1959 Green Bay, Wisconsin - Tornado cut a narrow path though Ashwaubenon and Green Bay, took and relayed storm damage reports. (noise of storm likened to freight train roar)

September 30, 1971 Mountain Wisconsin - relayed storm damage reports from a Tornado that affected the area.

June 16, 1979 Oconto County Wisconsin - relayed storm damage reports from a Tornado that affected the area.

April 9-10, 1973.  Green Bay Flood.  The bay of Green Bay backed up in the spring (7 to 8 inches of rain fell) and 10-15 hams rode in trucks to help with the evacuation.   A command post was setup at Nicolet school.  This was our first use of VHF repeaters for an emergency, seemed our radios worked better than than the cities.

July 5, 1994 Cooperstown Tornado.   Relayed and took storm damage reports from a strong Tornado that affected the area.

August 23, 1998 Door County F2-F3 Tornado.  Thousands of trees were snapped or uprooted.  Members relayed storm damage reports.

In the mid to late 70's?, area hams transmitter hunting skills were put to the test.  The Green Bay Police repeater was regularly being jammed.  Hams found the source on the East side of Green Bay off University Ave.  A Brown County officers microphone was stuck between the seats.  The jamming corresponded to the start of his shift. 

In 1986 after The Green Bay Mike and Key Club was accepted as an  ARRL special service club they ordered 20 or so books.  General testing books were placed in area high schools.  That and other ham books (Harry Helms Shortwave Listening Guidebook, 200 Meters and Down, etc) were placed in the Brown County Library.  They were stamped “Compliments of the Green Bay Mike & Key Club” and had contact information.

A Wisconsin Central train derailment occurred in Weyauwega March 4, 1996. The National Guard transformed the World Class MFG facility at (highways 10 and 110) into a command center to coordinate the efforts of safety and railroad personnel.  About 10 hams from the Green Bay area went to assist in communications.  Communications were provided for Red Cross shelters in Waupaca. Circuits were also active from Waupaca to the State Emergency Operations Center of the DEG in Madison, where RACES station WC9AAG was in operation 24 hours a day for nearly two weeks.

Y2K.  While uneventful, about area 35 hams were on stand-by New Years Eve 1999.  Hams were stationed at hospitals, public safety buildings, police departments, utility buildings, and fire departments throughout Brown County that evening.  Area amateurs met several times prior coordinating with Brown County Emergency Management and Wisconsin Public Service to have a plan in case problems arose.

Talk to Santa on a HT- For several years in a row either Dale or Tom Chica would go into the hospitals and let sick kids “talk to Santa”  1995-2000?

Providing HF phone patches for the Holy Cross/Franciscan missionaries to area hospitals so they could request more supplies.  1995-2000?

A Look At Local Ham Radio Growth (number of licenses)

Year Green Bay Brown County Wisconsin USA
1920 4 4 163 10,795
1928 3 5 308 N/A
1938 34 35 1,092 53,478
1954 69 75 2,249 111,991
1960 101 115 3,273 190,764
1969 130 153 4,553 283,846
1983 173 202 6,580 397,737
1995 306 374 10,389 656,726
2000 345 421 12,200 682,240
2005 345 462 13,879 662,600
2010 395 522 15,281 696,041

Looking at the the available (17 yrs worth) Green Bay Volunteer Examiners records, Green Bay VEC averages 3 test sessions per year. Fourteen people on average test per year, yielding 6 new hams per year on average, and 4 who upgrade yearly on average.


June 20, 1941 - Likely the very first hamfest.  It was held at Bay Beach, and hams from outlying cities where invited.
May 1976 - Green Bay Armory on Mason St (late 70’s early 80’s) 
May 21 1978 - Swapfest at the Riverside Ballroom, 115 Newhall St in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s flea market. 
May 22, 1982 - Electronic Swapfest, annual event sponsored by Green Bay Mike and Key Club, held at Norwood School
August 20 1983 - Swapfest at Pamperin Park (held 3 yrs in a row)
August 17 1985 - Ashwaubenon Community Center - Anderson Drive
August 16 1986 - Community Service Center - 1673 Dousman St
October 1990 - Association For Retarded Citizens on Dousman St
October 4, 1990 - Green Bay Community Center, 1673 Dousman Street.
April 1995 - Ashwaubenon High School hamfest.
December 1996 - Ashwaubenon High School hamfest.

Alice Malin Secretary of the Green Bay Home & Garden Show invited the club to participate in March of 1963.  The club setup a demo/information booth at the show for 3 years in a row.  Randy Dyle climbed the roof of the Brown County arena to setup antennas.

September 30, 1978, Port Plaza Amateur Radio Display
June 24, 1984 - Ham Radio equipment display, outside at Bay Park Square Mall

Field Day:
From 1945 to 1956 Field day was held at Platten's Orchard.
From 1957-1999 Field Day was mostly at the Brown County Fair Grounds, with these exceptions; June 1961  - The Green Bay Mike and Key Club Field Day was at held at City Stadium.  The club setup in the press box area, 74, 40 and 20 meters setup.  1866 points, worked 10 stated and 7 providences, despite the 75 meter transmitter being out for 2 hrs, and the 20 meter was out for 4 hours.  1980 Field Day held was at the Brown County Reforestation Camp.  1984 Field Day was held at the rear of Bay Park Square, and 1985 Field Day was at Bay Shore Park.

Club Banquet:
The club banquet for many years  from 1950-1970 was held at the Chatterbox (later called the Chatterhouse) in De Pere with a few exceptions.


I noticed a significant numbers of ham to the hobby from a few hams in instructional settings (W9EFL, W9NZL, W9HDV, W9ZEQ, N9ZRU, etc) providing the mentoring that brought about significant numbers of young hams.  It would be a good idea to try and drum a a few potential teachers to get their ham radio license.  Military Service exposure to radio also brought a lot of folks into the hobby. 

It's 2015, and I feel for the most part the commercial networks are stable, and our role as hams for emergency communications as compared to the past is greatly diminished.   I feel its time to focus on one of our other major basis and purpose pillars, to advance the radio art.  Makerspaces are todays do it yourselfers.  And I think it's important that we get involved with these groups.

Ham radio operators have long been some of the original open source , Do-It-Yourself (DIY) proponents.

Going back in time, radio stuff was expensive and out of the reach of a lot of hams. So they invented newer and mostly cheaper ways of doing things. They also came up with better ways of doing things because somebody else would see that idea in print and improve upon it. Of course the technology was rather rudimentary, and there was little way to go but up at that point in radio technology calendar.

What most people tend not to think about is the open-source nature of Amateur Radio. While operators most often are seen working in emergency situations, many of the modern conveniences we have today—cell phones, satellites, wireless devices— were developed and tested by radio amateurs.

Decades ago, amateur radio operators were on the forefront of scores of technological innovations, including television, digital communications, solid-state design and cellular networks. The hobby's roots trace back to radio pioneers such as Guglielmo Marconi and FM-inventor Edwin Armstrong.

Well a lot has changed over the years in society and ham radio. Many amateurs have gotten away from these "do-it-yourself" roots. But those types are still out there!

When the economic crisis first started to unfold in 2009, the Wall Street Journal just had an article on how Tinkering is making a comeback amid the economic crisis.

"The American tradition of tinkering -- the spark for inventions from the telephone to the Apple computer -- is making a comeback, boosted by renewed interest in hands-on work amid the economic crisis and falling prices of high-tech tools and materials.

Engineering schools across the country report students are showing an enthusiasm for hands-on work that hasn't been seen in years. Workshops for people to share tools and ideas -- called "hackerspaces" -- are popping up all over the country; there are 124 hackerspaces in the U.S." (2009 Wall Street Journal)

In 2005 just shortly before the economic mess stated to unfold, Make Magazine was introduced by O'Reilly Media. It focuses on do it yourself (DIY) and/or DIWO (Do It With Others) projects involving computers, electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking and other disciplines.

The magazine was well accepted by engineering and electronics students. And led to the first Maker Faire. An event filled with DIY projects, science, demos.

These "fests" are now in their 6th year, and being held in California, Detroit and New York and many other places.

As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article, regional groups are popping up all over the place to help support this innovation. These are referred to as Makerspaces/ Hackerspaces. They are places where people with common interests, usually in science, technology, or arts can meet, socialize and collaborate. A Makerspace can be viewed as a community lab, machine shop, or workshop where people of diverse backgrounds can come together to share resources and knowledge to build/make things.

There are two that I know of in our area:

And closer to home, the Appleton Makerspace (the former Distributed Hacker/Maker Network): a group of hacker/maker/software/hardware technology-enamored people.

And right here in Green Bay:

If you still have a bit of "amateur" in you, I encourage you to branch-out and check these innovative groups out. I think there can be / should be a lot of crossing over and sharing of talents between some ham radio folks and these groups. These are the types of people that need to welcomed with open arms into the hobby.