Langlade County Amateur (Ham) Radio History
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Langlade County Amateur (Ham) Radio History

Leland Fischer
Amateur Radio Operator N9GQG (ex: KA9YFM) (ex: AAV5MQ)

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The Earliest Local Hams

According to a newspaper article in May 1920. Two of the earliest Amateur Radio operators in Langlade County were Lynn Matthias callsign 9TO and Harold Chapman callsign 9UI.

Lynn Mathias (1904-1998) was a 1922 graduate of Antigo High School and also a University of Wisconsin classmate of Lynde Bradley. He and Lynde went on to work at the Allen-Bradley Company in Milwaukee. Lynn rose to vice-president of Research and Development and also served on the Board of Directors.

Harold Chapman (1904-1998) was also a 1922 graduate of Antigo High School.

The World Becomes a Smaller Place

On March 15, 1937 on page 3, the Antigo Daily Journal had a long article about Maurice Driscoll (1906-1973) callsign W9EZT, who had talked to ham radio operators in over 40 countries from his station at 530 5th Ave. in Antigo.

Amateur Radio and the Military

Antigo Daily Journal articles on December 5, 1938, page 4, and December 9, 1938 had a feature story about LTJG Edwin Hirt (1920-2017) callsign W9UGR and his mother Mae Hirt (1892-1976) callsign W9BEY who were both amateur radio operators and lived in Deerbrook. His father William ( 1892-1968) was the manager of the Deerbrook saw mill.

They were also associated with the U.S. Signal Corps providing communications during emergencies and for military members. Later these types of communications were assumed by the MARS program where member Amateur radio operators operate on military frequencies. MARS stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System.

Field Day

Another Antigo Daily Journal article in June of 1952 tells about local amateur radio operators field day activities and lists the following operators:

Frank Repko (1916-1994) callsign W1HAY,

Jim Berner callsign W9OED, now Hoosier Lakes Radio Club. Warsaw, IN.

Carl Somdahl Jr. callsign W9IZE now W7LI, Pacific City, OR.

Vern Teske (1922-2010) callsign W9RYA, worked at Delco Electronics on the Apollo Space Program and the Milwaukee Area Technical College where he taught TV and electronics.

Clarence "Bud" Finger (1921-1992) callsign W9EIZ, Bud Finger, worked for the Post Office for many years and became the Antigo Postmaster. Bud really loved working CW.

Bud had a son, Robert Finger, who also became a Ham. As Robert upgraded his callsign changed from WA9WGT to KE9P to W9GE. Easton, MD.

Anthony Michael (1923-2004) callsign N9BTP, Tony operated an electrical repair service in Bryant.

Bob Gillespie callsign unknown.

Henry Federman (1909-1965) callsign W9CTD, 1007 Fulton St. Antigo.

Some Other Langlade County Hams now Deceased

Richard Engholdt, (1910-2014) callsign W9FTC.

John LaBlonde, (1914-1999) callsign W9FZC
John was a 1932 graduate of Antigo High School and became one of the main radio technicians for the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Douglas Lovelace, (1916-2002) callsign W9FG (ex W9WCA).
Doug worked for the Philco Company as a technical representative at the Antigo Radar Base.
He also worked as an engineer at radio station WATK and assisted at the Antigo Airport.
Doug was also well known for giving many new amateur radio operators their first license exam.

Carl(ton) Kerstetter, (1936-2001) callsign W9NVM. Carl was also the Antigo Airport Manager.

Fred Hall, callsign unknown (9BNV?).

James Flannagan, (1892-1972) callsign W9CGO lived at 602 Lincoln St.

SGT Kenneth Kelly, (1908-1978) callsign K9UKR? Kenneth was a 1927 graduate of Antigo High School. Sgt. Kenneth Kelly, a Antigo police officer who served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He was the radio serviceman for the Antigo Police radios after his discharge. He later moved to Milwaukee.

LTJG Gordon Aulik, (1920-1995) callsign W9YXG, 1110 4th Ave., Antigo. Gordon was a 1938 graduate of Antigo High School.

John "Buck" Manthey, (1919-2012) callsign
W9YXM, 1112 Clermont St., Antigo. John was a 1937 graduate of Antigo High School.

Ray Szmanda (1927-2018) callsign KB9JPB. "The Menards Guy" of TV commercial fame.

Bill Wurtinger (1933-2006) callsign N9RFI. Bill operated a TV and Radio Repair Service in Antigo.

Ernest Geiger (1938-2012) callsign N9QMP. Ernie installed the Antigo 147.315 repeater in the early 2000's.

Ron Krzysiak, (1941-2014) callsign K9GEC. Ron was a 1959 graduate of Antigo High School.

Two-Meter Repeaters

In the early 1990's William Volm, KD9HH installed the first two-meter repeater just south of town, on the Gresch's Hill police tower operating on the frequency of 145.310 Mhz. Bill also helped start the Antigo Repeater Association (ARA) club which took over the repeater operations.

During this time many new hams in Langlade County got their Amateur Radio licenses in classes run by Bill Volm, Mike Hamman, W9BHL and Diane Lodge Hamman, KA9BHK. Diane also had a ham radio station set up in the Antigo Junior High School building.

In the early 2000's Ernest Geiger (1938-2012) callsign N9QMP installed another two-meter repeater in Antigo. When Ernie died his son Jeff Geiger callsign N9TEV took over the operations of this repeater which operates on the frequency of 147.315 Mhz.

Also in the early 2000's the Langlade County Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) club was formed to help support the new Langlade County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) group.

On September 2, 2006 members of the Marinette and Menominee Ham Assistance Team, (HAT), traveled to the Langlade County police radio Kent tower site near Bryant. They helped the LCARA installed a 4-element two-meter antenna on the northeast side of the tower, three support arms and 7/8 inch feedline to a height of approximately 260 feet above ground level. They also installed a two-meter repeater operating on the frequency of 147.255 Mhz.

In November 2006 the ARA merged with the LCARA. The LCARA then operated both the Gresch and Kent repeaters under the club callsign KC9JZY.

The LCRA club ceased operations August 2016. The radio equipment of the Gresch and Kent repeaters was donated to the Wisconsin Valley Radio Association which then took over the operations of both repeaters under the club callsign W9SM.

A February 2000 Antigo Repeater Association (ARA) Membership List

Barb Arnold N9KVZ
Ken Biagioni KB9JWS
Lee Fischer N9GQG
Dan Hackbarth KB9FTR
Carol Hackbarth KB9FTS
Carl Kerstetter W9NVM
Loren King KB9JOY
Shirley King KB9TJA
Ron Krzysiak K9GEC
Mark Pugh N9RMP
Vern Ralph KB9TJB
Toni Thomas KB9FTD
Seth Thomas KB9FUV
Jim Thomas N9JOQ
Jaren Thomas N9KNB
Mary Volm KB9EOF
Leah Volm KB9EOG
William Volm KD9HH
Kezia Volm KB9JZC
Diane Volm N9KII

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    Antigo Daily Journal and other references:

  • ADJ, May 5, 1920, page 5, Two Amateur Radio operators pass exams
  • ADJ, July 5, 1930, page 3, John LaBlonde passed Amateur Radio operator exam.
  • ADJ, Dec 3, 1930, page 7, James Flannagan talks to Australia.
  • ADJ, Mar 15, 1937, page 3. Maurice Driscoll talks to radio operators in over 40 countries.
  • ADJ, Dec 5, 1938, page 4, Edwin Hirt, W9UGR, of Deerbrook contacts over 2,000 amateur radio operator world-wide.
    His radio station is also associated with the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
  • ADJ, December 9, 2013, page 4. A Look Back: Peeps at our Past. Edwin Hirt.
  • ADJ, June 27, 1952, page 2, Amateur Radio Field Day at Fair Grounds.
  • ADJ, October 6, 2010, page 4. A Look Back: Peeps at our Past. Names several amateur radio operators in 1935.
  • September 2006 "Ground Wave" newsletter, The Marinette and Menominee Amateur Radio Club
  • Amateur Radio History
  • Book: "Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. by U.S. Dept. of Commerce." Lynn Mathias
  • Book: "Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. by U.S. Dept. of Commerce" Harold Chapman
  • The Capital Times, April 18, 1970, page 9. John LaBlonde.

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