Thursday, November 28, 2013

Remembering DXers Past

On October 21, 2013, I reached 32 years in the DX hobby. It was on October 21, 1981 that I purchased a Realistic DX-60 AM/FM/CB/shortwave receiver. As I look back at my DX career, I think about the DXers who came before me.

When I think of the DX community in St. Louis today, there's just only two other Broadcast Band DXers in the area besides myself: Earl Higgins and Walt Breville. However, there was a decent sized DX community in the St. Louis area 30 years ago.

The DXer I compare myself most to these days is the late Rich Eddie. Rich started his DX career in 1967, while I was still in diapers. Rich knew more about the hobby than even the top DXers in town at the time; it blew them away. He accepted one of the biggest challenges in DXing; pursuing the hobby from an RF jungle. His former home in Webster Groves was within line of sight of the local FM and TV transmitters. I visited his shack in the summer of 1987; I was amazed at the equipment needed to pursue the hobby in such an area. Rich also had a good sense of humor. When it came to my DX activities, especially in later years, I began to take up DXing the same bands he did. As I remember, he DXed AM, FM, shortwave and UHF analog TV. DXing the VHF bands presented a challenge, since he lived very close to the transmitter site of KSDK Channel 5. I did have an advantage over Rich, though; living at least 15 miles from the FM and TV transmitter sites. This was true of my original QTH on Lamplight Lane and my present QTH, where I've been living since 1992. I had the pleasure of meeting Rich in 1982 at a St. Louis International DXers meeting in Dellwood; he became my mentor in the local DX community.

Another one I remember is the late Terry Klasek. He led SLIDX during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The club's bulletin, "The Gridly Wave", featured not only DX reports and updated information, but also satire on the hobby. Some of this satire was written under the pseudonym "Alotto Crappolo". One of the most poignant articles he ever wrote was in his "The World According to Klasek" column; it was about DXers priorities. He wrote the sad story of a DXer from the Chicago area named Richard Pistek; he had worked for the U.S. Postal Service, and did little else but DX. As I remember reading the article, Pistek had become despondent after his mother passed away, leading him to take his own life in 1980 at the age of only 30. The article made me realize there was more to life than just DXing. Terry became involved in religious activities in later years, pursued a degree in journalism at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley (where he worked at the campus newspaper, The Forum, during the early 1990s), and dropped two-thirds of his weight. Toward the end of his life, he was involved with veterans' groups, as he served our country in Vietnam. And he did have a little bit of time left to spin the dials. It was through Terry that I was introduced to DXer and antenna experimenter Bob Flick, then-local DXers Roger Giannini, Rick Overmann (who later tried to get me into the Amway business!) and Jeff King. He also introduced me to top DXers Dr. Richard Wood (who was also a linguist) and Dale Park. Terry and Rich are no longer with us; Rich Eddie passed away in 1996 at age 48 (the news wasn't passed on to the DX community until 2003, when Terry Klasek told me and the international DX community the news). Terry Klasek passed away in April 2011 at age 64. 

As much as we remember those in our hobby who came before us, we should also remember that we are carrying on the hobby our mentors taught us. I'm carrying on the hobby that Rich Eddie and Terry Klasek pursued throughout much of their lives; along with Earl and Walt, I'm also carrying on a hobby that seems to be a lost art in the St. Louis area. As we head into the holiday season, we are also thankful for those DXers who came before us. At this time, let us remember the people who will long be remembered in the annals of the hobby, like Bill Eddings, Ernie Cooper, Frank Wheeler, Carleton Lord and the Nittler Brothers (Bill and Fran). Their contributions to the hobby will not be forgotten.