November 1952 QST
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present (visit ARRL
for info). All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
is a presidential election year, I figured it would be a good time to post a tongue-in-cheek- story that appeared in the
November 1952 issue of QST magazine about a fictional American president J. Willoughby Winkelspoof. The American
Radio Relay League (ARRL) always has been and still is apolitical, so don't take seriously
anything you read here. If you are an astute follower of politics, you might pick up on the nuances woven into the story,
and might even marvel on how much the political landscape has changed in the half century since Pres. Winkelspoof graced
the Oval Office. Incidentally, the 1952 presidential election was between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.
TVI is the cause of JWW's problems, and the federal bureaucracy's means of dealing with it are ridiculous, but entirely
believable. What is your guess as to why his call sign was changed? Send me an e-mail with yours and I'll let you know mine.
Morse Code translation:
W0!! = · − − − − − − − − · − · − − − · − · − −
W0!!/3 = · − − − − − − − − · − · − − − · − · − − − · · − · · · · − −
W3E = · − − − − − − − ·
In 1927, the International Radiotelegraph Conference in Washington established the International Radio
Consultative Committee (CCIR)
to study technical and operating questions related to radio communications and to issue recommendations on them.
WAS = Worked All States
The Ham Who Was President
By Rod H. Newkirk,* W1VMW
"JWW" came up
the hard way. He started out with a blooper and a '45 TNT, ran the garmut of '46s, '10s, and a variety of nondescript skywires.
But it wasn't until he put his Advanced Class ticket to work on the 'phone bands that he really found his element. From
that time on he was a natural.
His inauguration went off in accordance with custom; rain seized an opportunity to soak everything in sight. Though
it was unnoticed by the multitude, J. Willoughby Winkelspoof could not find his misplaced speech. But the President-elect
put his long hamming career to good stead and produced an oral snow-job that would have put his most glib round-table buddy
Then, in a flurry of tails, gold braid and limousines, it was all over. W0!! had become W0!!/3 - the first ham chief
executive in U. S. history!
* * *
JWW got the intricate hang of it in no time at all. Appointments, conferences, releases, yachting excursions - all such
details kept him so occupied he had absolutely no time to contemplate the trend of conditions on the amateur bands. Months
went by. His prideful pals back in Ridiculous Heights, Nebraska, began to figure he had gone high-hat. There was a definite
void on the air with old W0!! QRT.
Finally, a propitious moment arrived. Mrs. Winklespoof was away as guest of the Daughters of the Industrial Revolution,
the kids were away at Space Cadet school and somebody, somehow, had neglected to fill in this date with the usual duties
of state. "Aha!" chuckled Will.
Shortly thereafter, he appeared in the White House sub-basement surveying four or five crates of ham gear. Clearing out
some curious menial help, JWW went to work. He hauled up his old receiver, staggered upstairs with three power supplies,
the r.f. section and modulator. He selected an alcove off the Green Room for his shack and soon strange squealing noises
could be heard emanating therefrom.
Willoughby whipped out a log sheet and made ready to blast forth a sharp CQ only to realize he had no antenna. Back down
into the depths and out he came again with a few rolls of No. 14, some insulators and a pair of cutters. Darkness was at
hand; there was need to work fast.
Looking over the White House grounds, JWW elected to rig up an east-west Vee beam. It was while he was perched on the
iron fence, fastening one leg at the far end, that he ran into his first bit of grief.
A shot rang out through the twilight and J. Willoughby did a dive to the lawn with a clean hole through his striped tail-coat.
The fragments of the Pyrex insulator he had been holding rained about him. He had to admit that the guard detachment was
really on the ball!
This situation was quickly straightened out and the guard chief apologized profusely. W0!!/3 was ready to hit the air!
This our hero did with his customary vigor.
The Vee worked
fine and his first CQ raised a W7 in Walla Walla on twenty 'phone. "You're S9-plus," said the Seven. Winklespoof gloated.
"Trouble is," the voice continued, "everybody else is S9-double-plus tonight." Will then increased his modulation from 150
to 200 per cent and began to get results.
But this fun was too good to last. The landline rang raucously, forcing him to abandon the QSO, and when he picked up
the 'phone extension he was almost pinned to the wall by the blast. It turned out to be a Republican over on F Street.
"You no-good - -, I'd like to mangle you!
I'd know that hacky campaign squawk of yours anywhere. It's not bad enough you're taxing me goofy, but now you even have
to blot out Uncle Wiltie on my TV set. Drop dead!"
J. Willoughby succeeded in placating the gentleman to the extent of selling him some Savings Bonds. But the 'phone resumed
ringing as soon as he hung up. Exasperated, he tore the connection from the wall and decided to switch temporarily to c.w.
Thus did time pass as President J. Willoughby Winklespoof hammed away in his snug Pennsylvania Avenue diggings. He hadn't
had such fun in months! However, strange things began to happen on the outside.
FCC monitors were picking up bizarre signals from a weird-sounding transmitter which they triangulated as being very
close to the Executive Mansion. The jargon used was undecipherable, although they picked out the combination "RSQ" very
Less than an hour later, armored cars, a platoon of infantry, and a company of artillery converged on the White House
gates. Signals were still being heard from somewhere within the Mansion.
Will had barricaded the door after his TVI 'phone call, determined to have one decent QSO before he pulled the switch.
His concentration was so intense that he heard nothing strange until a tear gas bomb shattered the alcove window and went
pfft! beneath his chair. Cursing the cigar he was smoking, a gift from the Sultan of Lendleasialand, whose country he had
had the State Department recognize for DXCC purposes, he burst out of the shack and sprawled flat on his face beneath the
crossfire of three machine guns.
affair was, with considerable effort, kept out of the papers and things gradually got back to normal. Congress rushed through
a bill giving the President an easier call to send - W3E - and the Army assuaged his injured feelings by presenting him
with a gold-plated correctly-spacing electronic key.
A special detachment of FCC engineers installed in the Chief's rig a series of 32-section low-pass filters especially
designed for W3E by the Bureau of Standards. (These filters served only to aggravate Winklespoof's TVI troubles but the
Bureau laid the blame on technical papers of the CCIR, because their components were measured correctly to within one part
in forty quintillion. A Congressional investigatory committee later settled the matter with a stiff censuring of both factions.)
The final solution to the President's TVI problem was found by compulsorily increasing inputs of all local TV stations
(from 200 to 200,000 kw.), which power increase extended their fringe areas to points beyond reach of W3E's keying transients,
harmonics, and parasitics.
At any rate, despite these minor difficulties, J. Willoughby Winklespoof made out okay. He successfully parried affairs
of state while accomplishing WAC, DXCC, and RCC. Yet he was horrified one evening while checking through his logs and QSLs
- he still needed Vermont for WAS!
Years had passed and his term was drawing to a close. Was he fated to go down in history as the only Presidential ham
not to make WAS? Perish the thought!
Thereafter, JWW cut short many a conference to scan 40 and 80 meters in search of Vermont W1s, but for some reason they
just couldn't be raised. He even went to such length as having the Interior Department install three one-kw. transmitters
close beside the Vermont state line which he operated by remote control from his White House shack. No soap. No comebacks
Will had another inspiration. The young son of one of his few Capitol Hill senatorial boosters had just gotten his ticket
and had a suitcase portable layout ready for action. At the behest of the President, the lad undertook to enter Vermont
by automobile, set up his gear and work W3E. But alas - local phenomena beyond the boy's control brought the scheme to disaster.
The naked truth finally dawned upon JWW. There was no doubt about it. Unless something drastic was done, the Chief was
not going to make WAS.
And so it came to pass that his next Thursday press conference made history. He looked the hawks of the press in their
stolid faces and calmly announced:
"Boys, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.
It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I find it a necessary one. I've decided that, as of now, I've become a Republican."
After the least robust of the reporters had been carried from the room, the news hit the headlines with tremendous impact.
Even word of Lisabeth Saylor's seventh marriage and a boy for Eddie Candor were crowded off the front page. The bedlam on
Capitol Hill was unprecedented. But the announcement had the desired effect.
Slipping back to his shack, JWW worked five Vermont hams in quick succession and received their QSLs airmail-special
delivery in the next post. Special courier brought the cards to ARRL Hq., and J. Willoughby Winklespoof became our first
president to accomplish WAS.
* * *
The boos, cheers, and catcalls died away in the distance as ex-President Winklespoof headed for the club car of the outbound
Capital Express, clutching his WAS certificate in one hand and a cheroot in the other. There was no band to greet him at
the end of his trip, but the Ridiculous Heights Amateur Radio Club met him with open arms and congratulations.
"It was great to be President," said JWW, with an accent on the tense. "But the job certainly interferes with a fellow's
Whereupon he went home and fired up the rig on 75.
* DX Editor, QST.
Posted June 15, 2016