My name is Frank M. Howell, a licensed amateur radio operator located in Ridgeland, MS near Jackson. My FCC call sign is K4FMH (formerly KJ4QJZ) and I am registered on QRZ.com. I have been an SWL for over 50 years now, focusing on AM BCB dxing, international SW broadcast, and some utility work (including the infamous numbers stations).
As a college professor who chased grant funds to support my research program, I just never felt I had time to stop and learn the Morse Code. I could have but I just didn’t. When the FCC dropped the code requirement, I began to make plans to get my ticket. But it was only after I retired after 30 years of «professing» and moved into an administrative position at the Georgia Board of Regents Office in Atlanta that I took a boot camp course at Georgia Tech (thanks Andrew KI4SSU) and got the Technician license. A month later, I got my General. That was in December 2009. In late 2010, I resigned from the Board Staff and returned to our large home in Starkville, MS. That sold within the year and we moved to Ridgeland, MS and built a retirement home on the Barnett Reservoir there.
Currently, I am an Editor for Springer Media in The Netherlands and co-edit a scholarly journal, Spatial Demography, with Dr. Jeremy R. Porter (CUNY-Brooklyn). As a book Editor, I acquire, develop, and edit books for Springer, the largest scientific publisher in the world. I also write books in this field, largely working collaboratively with Dr. Porter who was my final Ph.D. advisee at Mississippi State University.
In partial retirement, I’ve spent time working with growing several clubs while remaining a proud member of one of the country’s best, the Atlanta Radio Club.
Serving as President of the Magnolia ARC in Starkville, it was a pleasure to work with area hams who wanted to take the moribund club back to some semblance of a working group having fun in the hobby. I convinced Martin K5FLU to join the club, passed the hat to replace aging or broke GE Mastr II gear with new Kenwood (2M) and used Icom (70cm) repeaters. Martin and I convinced an RF Engineer with MFJ Enterprises, Ben KB5ZO to serve as Trustee to these repeaters. This was a vast improvement on relying on E.E. majors at MSU to maintain them! Through personal connections, I was able to get the MSU Club, W5YD, in better sted. Their antenna was on the top of the Simrall E.E. Building with a very small footprint. A prized slot on the 400' shared communications tower among the Unviersity, the City of Starkville, and Oktibbeha County was negotiated. Now their 2M repeater reaches Louisville using an HT! When I moved to Ridgeland, I felt the Club was in good hands with Allen KF5JOO as President.
For a year, I was a member of the Jackson ARC and was elected to their Board of Directors. I found the Club, erroneously touting itself as the state’s oldest (see post on this), fairly odd in its operation. Board meetings were supposed to be completely «private,» and to repeat any discussions held in a Board meeting was verboten! Nothing in the Bylaws spoke to this unwritten «law». There was no Repeater Committee but instead a reliance upon a single, very knowledgeable RF Engineer in the Club. He pays for most of the equipment out of his own pocket with nominal exception. Not the best business model, IMHO. Some Board members identified appropriate cliques for me by identifying other members I met as «good» or «bad». When I raised some issues as to whether a training session should be held for a group of para-military styled «preppers» whose leader was on the Homeland Security No-Fly List without discussion by the Board, I received a certified letter asking me to resign from both the Board and Club or I’d be voted out. On principle, I refused, as I was the Forums Coordinator for the only hamfest in the state that was sponsored by the Club. (No vote was held even though attempts were made to secure additional members who would vote against me. I’ve since had a number tell me about this, to their high degree of chagrin!) After a very successful set of Forums at the Capital City Hamfest, I submitted my resignation from the Board and the Club. Many clubs go through extreme social dis-functionality as our Delta Division surveys have identified but members do not have to endure it! I do hope they get better leadership and improve but I’ve met many, many hams in the Jackson area who have been in my shoes one way or another over the past 20 years.
As a part of my promotion of HSMM-MESH (now called Broadband Hamnet), I was asked to give a talk at the nearby Scott County Amateur Radio Club in Morton, MS. It’s a nice small town on I-20 between Jackson and Meridian but about 45 minutes away from me in Ridgeland. What a great group of hams! I’ve since joined that club and helped them to become the first amateur radio group in Mississippi to «light up» a town. The SCARC group works collaboratively with the Central MS Amateur Radio Association in Brandon. Several members of each club regularly attend the other’s meetings. The CMSARA group was the result of a split in the JARC over group culture and authority. What I’ve observed in the Brandon group is one where mutual respect is largely the order of the day. Good leadership organizes consistent interesting programs each month. Members pitch in to support others' ideas and newcomers are made to feel welcomed. I’ve gotten to know their current President, Mike N5DU, and manage happily manage their website (cmsara.org). It’s a monthly meeting I readily enjoy attending.