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Ham (Radio) Still on SCTE's Menu

How do you separate run-of-the-mill cable techies from the über-geeks? Two words: ham radio.

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers is keeping the flame alive for the 1960s-era hobby. Earlier this year, the association formed an informal amateur-radio club earlier — the brainchild of president and CEO Mark Dzuban, a longtime ham radio fan — and SCTE is hosting the Ham Radio Operators Reception as one of the last events to close out Cable-Tec Expo 2010 in New Orleans on Friday, Oct. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The retro reveling isn’t just reminiscing, according to SCTE.

“There’s a little bit of celebrating history, as any organization would do,” said Steve Oksala, SCTE’s vice president of standards. “But one of the things we’re doing with the club and other things is saying, ‘Hey, RF [radio frequency] is important.’ Because if you understand how it works, you’re more likely to be able to get a handle on it.”

Club secretary Oksala (call sign: NI3P) had been the only licensed ham radio operator on SCTE’s staff, until Dzuban (call sign: K4MHZ) came on board in January 2009.

“If you really look at the history of the cable industry, most of those guys started in broadcast,” Oksala explained. “They naturally tended to be electronics techs or engineers, and so they tended to be involved in ham radio.”

For his part, Oksala was licensed as a ham radio operator in 1959. “There weren’t many things for a tech-savvy person to do in those days,” he said.