Mickey LeBoeuf, K5ML
My Teenage Fifteen Minutes of Fame as a Novice
In the fall of 1957 I was KN5LVB, a 15 year-old Novice licensee living In New Orleans and getting my first experience on the ham bands. Like most young hams, I was short on funds but long on enthusiasm for this great hobby.
When Sputnik, the first satellite to be launched into space went up, we all went into a state of national shock. The mighty USA, destined to be the world's leader into outer space had been embarrassingly upstaged by the USSR. The nerve of those Bolsheviks!
One morning shortly after the launch of Sputnik, I'm listening to WTIX, the favorite rock 'n roll station of New Orleans teens. The DJ asks "Is there's anybody out there who can pick up Sputnik"s transmissions on a short wave radio? If so, please call the station." Sputnik's transmission frequency had been announced, and the signal had been played on the TV news, so I knew how it sounded.
I tune my trusty Hallicrafters S-38D receiver listening for Sputnik. After a few minutes of slowly turning the bandspread control, there it is! "Beep, beep beep." It's the siren call from the dark side.
With great excitement, I take the one telephone we have on a very long cord into my room and call the radio station. Someone at the station answers the phone and I blurt out, "I'm listening to Sputnik!" and hold the phone up to the speaker. The person on the other end asks for my name and telephone number and says someone will call me back. Shortly, the announcer calls back with tape recorder running. He does an interview with me and gets some good sound clips of Sputnik. Shortly after that, they replay the interview and clips of the Sputnik transmissions. They replay the sounds of Sputnik several more times during the day. After each playing the announcer says something like, "That's from Mickey LeBoeuf, our satellite correspondent on Maple Street. He's keeping a close watch on Sputnik for us." It was my teenage 15 minutes (or less) of fame.
It would be nice ending to the story if this experience had led to a career in the news media, the space program or satellite technology, but that's not what happened. I went on to become a management professor and that evolved into a second career of writing popular business books and speaking. My eight books were published in over a dozen languages worldwide, adapted to produce 17 audio/video training programs and garnered a lot of interviews on radio and TV shows including the CBS Evening News, Oprah and Good Morning America. No doubt, my amateur radio background contributed greatly toward making me very comfortable with the electronic media and making me a better communicator. But my career as a satellite correspondent was very short-lived.
Michael LeBoeuf, K5ML
Paradise Valley, AZ