I’ve wanted to be a ham since I was a teen.

I started out as a shortwave listener with a long wire strung from my parents’ roof on our house in southwest Denver connected to a Yaesu FRG-7 receiver in my basement-level bedroom. Hearing the English language broadcast from Radio Tirana in Albania was one of the highlights.

In the spring of 1993, I got the ham bug again and studied for an passed my Technician Plus exam, including the 5 wpm code requirement. My call sign was N3QLO. But I had just gotten married and just started graduate school. So, I made one contact on a Radio Shack HT and largely forgot about ham radio. In fact, when my license renewal rolled around in 2003, I didn’t even bother to renew.

Thirteen years later, I’d gotten tenure, my kids were teens or out of the house, and I had a little more time and energy. I passed my Technician and General license exams in the summer of 2016, secured the vanity callsign K3ROG, and joined the Nittany Amateur Radio Club. This time, I made time for ham radio, and I’ve been rolling ever since. With the help of some study partners and my Elmer K3YV, I upgraded to Extra a year later.

In the winter of 2023, I changed callsigns again to W3TM, mostly on a lark. I saw that a call sign that was both phonetically short and CW-short was available, and so I decided to enter the call sign lottery when it became available. My understanding was that the chances were slim I would get the call sign, but I thought I would go for it anyway. Sure enough, there was only one other ham who was eligible, and I won the coin toss at the FCC. Ok, maybe they have a more sophisticated system of choosing randomly, but however it went down, whiskey-three-tango-mike was now my new call. And that call will remain until I am a silent key.