73, Rick K8CAV
73, Rick K8CAV
The FCC’s “Ham Guy,” Bill Cross, W3TN, to Retire on April 3
Amateur Radio’s point man at the FCC is retiring. Bill Cross, W3TN, officially a “program analyst” in the Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), is stepping down on April 3 after nearly 4 decades at the FCC. Many radio amateurs have had the opportunity to meet Cross when he conducted the once popular Dayton Hamvention Amateur Radio forum, since a victim of FCC budget trimming.
“Most people [at the Bureau] know me as ‘The Ham Guy,’” Cross quipped in an interview with ARRL, “and they send anything relating to Amateur Radio to me — as quick as they can.” Cross said he did consider making April 1 his retirement date but, “I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Cross started with the Amateur Radio Group in what was then the Private Radio Bureau. That morphed into the WTB when other services were added in 1989. Prior to that, he worked in the Common Carrier Bureau — now the Wireline Competition Bureau — and his academic background in engineering and economics came in handy.
A ham since 1968, the married father of two said he’s still active on the air, strictly on HF SSB and CW, and he hopes to expand his time for ham radio once away from the daily grind. He has achieved DXCC Honor Roll and actively participates in the Islands on the Air program (IOTA).
When he arrived at the FCC in 1976, Cross didn’t anticipate making it a career. But in time his hobby became his work, and over the years he witnessed considerable change in Amateur Radio. The Commission’s decision to drop Morse code as a requirement to obtain an Amateur Radio license in 2007 was one example. “We heard that fabric of the universe had become unglued,” he said, “but it didn’t.” CW seems to be used much more than it was before 2007, he said, and some DX or IOTA stations are CW only.
Cross acknowledged that Amateur Radio rule making proceedings at the FCC move with seeming glacial torpor but pointed out that the Amateur Service competes with an incoming barrage from other services and bureaus. “Amateurs have a view that the Commission has three bureaus — the Bureau of Ham Radio, the Bureau of All Other, and the Bureau of Administration,” he said. “I understand why they wish it was that way, but it’s not.”
Looking ahead, Cross said he can see a day when may be only one Amateur Radio license class. “Do we really need three license classes anymore?”
he asked. “I can see in the future the number of license classes decreasing again — to two or maybe one — because the differences really are not that much.”
Among the disappointments for Cross has been the rise in questionable on-the-air behavior, including intentional interference of DXpeditions, which he believes reflects such less-desirable societal trends as road rage. “People lose perspective,” he said. “No one lives or dies, if they don’t work Navassa Island.” FCC budget cutbacks will lead to less enforcement, he said, and with stretched resources, “something’s gotta give.”
That applies in Cross’s own Bureau. When he steps down on April 3, no new “Ham Guy” is standing in the wings to replace him. “The plan is to divide up my work among other staff members, based on topic,” he said.
Cross said people choose to get into ham radio as something enjoyable and fun. “When the joy and the fun go out of it, and it becomes a frustration, it might be time to take a step back,” he advised. “Find a new aspect of the hobby. If it doesn’t make you happy there’s something wrong. There’s something for everyone. Just have fun.”
And Bill Cross plans to do just that.
A frequent DX visitor to Western PA is vacationing in Tobago – in the Caribbean.
Sandy, DL1QQ from Germany will be operating this evening at 8:30 PM EDT as 9Y4/DL1QQ on 14.260 MHz. Sandy is at a very good station and she is easy to work. So fire up your 20 meter HF rig and let’s see how many MCARC and PCARS members can work Sandy.
She will send all QSOs from this evening a DX from her operation card so you will have 9Y4 on 20 meters (she is also on LoTW).
my new W8WWV “Stepper” Yagi. Doesn’t rotate, but easily
for max gain, max F/B, or min SWR. Requires 1” boom.
pending “Dual Mast” design.
FCC to reinstate Morse Code test
April 1, 2015 By Dan RG8U
This just in…
Washington, D.C. – April 1, 2015 – Today,
the Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC) approved Report and
Order 14-987af which reinstates the Morse Code test for General Class and
Amateur Extra Class licensees. “It was a big mistake eliminating the Morse Code
test,” admits Dotty Dasher, the FCC’s director of examinations. “We now realize
that being able to send and receive Morse Code is an essential skill for radio
amateurs. As they say, it really does get through when other modes can’t.”
Not only will new applicants have to take the test, but General
Class licensees who have never passed a code test will have one year to pass a
5-wpm code test. Similarly, Amateur Extra class licensees that never passed a
code test will have one year to pass a 13-wpm test. Those amateurs that fail to
pass the test will face revocation of their operating privileges. Materials for
administering the examinations will be distributed to Volunteer Examiner
Coordinators by the end of April, so that they can begin the testing on May 1,
“This isn’t going to be one of those silly multiple-choice type
tests,” noted Dasher. “We’re going to be sending five-character random code
groups, just like we did in the old days. And, applicants will have to prove
that they can send, too, using a poorly adjusted straight key.”
Technician Class licensees will not be required to take a Morse
Code test, nor will a test be required for new applicants. “We discussed it,”
said Dasher, “but decided that since most Techs can’t even figure out how to
program their HTs, requiring them to learn Morse Code seemed like cruel and
When asked what other actions we might see from the FCC, Dasher
hinted that in the future applicants taking the written exam may be required to
draw circuit diagrams, such as Colpitts oscillators and diode ring mixers, once
again. “We’re beginning to think that if an applicant passes an amateur radio
license exam it should mean that he or she actually knows something,” she said.
For further information,
contact James X. Shorts, Assistant Liaison to the Deputy Chief of Public
Relations for the FCC at (202) 555-1212 or email@example.com.
For more news and information about the FCC, please visit www.fcc.gov.
73, Rick K8CAV