Posted in: New Hams Corner

New Hams Corner: Callsigns

During a practice I had one new ham who did not their callsign! I asked three times before the person got it right. When the FCC issues callsigns they are done in sequential order. If you take your test with a few other people you will have similar calls! For example: KA4AAA, KA4AAB, KA4AAC. This does get confusing on air as they might all sound the same to a net control station.

I prefer to use phonetics when I give my callsign. There is somewhat of a better chance to get it correct on the first pass. November Tango Whiskey is easier to get than NTW. I always get called MTW!

Once you have been issued a call a lot of people want to get something easier to remember or it means something to them. One very common thing is to try to get your initials. For a Technician this will only work if you have a middle initial. Vanity call signs are being issued every day so it is getting harder for people to get a specific call. One big thing is the ability to get calls in other areas. Let’s say K4LEW is taken but you find K1LEW is available. You may apply to get that call and use it in the Southeast. Once upon a time that was not allowed!

A lot of old timers have kept their calls because they are out there and have been for years. I have had my call for over 40 years now. One other hidden thing is people who want the call of a deceased family member. A friends son got his dad’s call. Funny part is they have the same name so I was confused when I saw the call. Some clubs will get calls to honor a silent key who was a longtime member of the club.

Even as a Technician you will be exposed to calls issued in other countries. Along the northern border you might hear a lot of C calls. Along the Mexican border you might hear some X calls. and believe it or not, along the Florida coast you can hear the islands! Use one of the online callsign lookup services to determine where a particular call is licensed to…it might not be where you think. If you have a foreign call you can look them up at or one of the other services.

Although not a requirement a lot of hams still keep a log of stations contacted. This makes it easy to remember a bit about the person. With today’s software it is so much easier to log contacts and sort them by a number of variables.

Your callsign is your identity and you should proudly let people know who you are and in which organizations you hold membership.

73 Dolph WA2NTW