Riley Hollingswworth, K4ZDH
(formerly KN4ZDH, 1960)
As a ten year old I became interested in shortwave broadcasts listening to my Uncle's Zenith shortwave receiver. He had been a radioman in the Army in WW II and loved radio, but was not an Amateur operator. After a motor scooter accident I sold the scooter, got a Hallicrafters SX 110 and became hooked on the Ham radio communications I heard.
My uncle took me to meet a couple ham operators in town-in those days ham operators were known to everyone because they could always get messages through when the local phone company could not. Grady Horton, K4TZG taught me the code, and Joe Gault, W4WZ, gave me the Novice exam at age 13. Although Grady is deceased, Joe is still active and I talk to him a few times every week. I was working at a grocery store when my dad called and said my license had come in. I asked him to read the call sign and was devastated to hear him read KN47DH. I thought there had been a typo and I would have to send the license back.
But when I got home I saw that the only problem was the Z was hand typed so low on the line that it had looked like a 7 to my dad. I got on that night and my first contact was Earl, K4SDS, in Richmond, VA. He took special pains with me because he knew it was my first contact, and I never forgot it. 35 years later, while working at the FCC, I looked up Earl and he was still active, he had been a teacher. I should have known, because I sure learned a lot from him that day.
I became relatively inactive after I got discovered girls, but returned to Ham Radio in law school and again after joining the FCC, and have been able to retain my original call.
As a 13 year old, I never dreamed that later in life I would have the privilege of coordinating all Amateur enforcement in the United States for the FCC. I am extremely fortunate to have been able to repay, in some small way, all the blessings Amateur radio has given me. I am as fascinated by it today as I was when I made my first contact!