HISTORY OF W5 CALL SIGNS, CONTINUED 1947 TO PRESENT, CONTINUED
To drill down farther into the 5th radio district's current pool of W call signs, it should be noted that the FCC has reorganized many times since it was created in 1934. Much of what it used to do, such as administering tests to amateurs, has now been turned over to volunteer civilian organizations such as the ARRL. But it still controls, under international agreements, how call signs are distributed.
License terms were extended from two to three years in 1967, five years in 1976, and the present term of 10 years since 1984. Due to the increased length of license terms, increased computerization, and a bribery scandal at the FCC, abandoned call signs are not put back into the available pool as much as they were before 1960. While there is a two year grace period wherein an expired ham license can still be renewed, there are thousands of abandoned calls still in the system.
The scandal added some much needed transparancy to the FCC's processes as of March 30, 1978. The sequential system was formalized at that time, with group A constituting the most desired call signs, reserved for extra class licensees. Later, it was modified with an extra-cost vanity system in the 90's, and recently the fees have been waived. Three more "radio districts," the 11th, 12th, and 13th, were established for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other offshore territories of the United States. But amateurs may still not stray outside of their license class, even under the vanity program.
Many long-time holders of "1x3" W5 calls swapped them for "1x2's" after July 1, 1976, the point in time at which extra class licensees could begin applying for the coveted pre-1917 two letter calls. In the beginning there was the 25 year licensing requirement, which was gradually shortened until In 1976 "1x2" calls with N prefixes were added to the pool. The were first needed in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th districts, and eventually added to the 5th and others. There are no known original holders of two letter calls left alive today. Only a very few original "1x3" holders resisted the temptation to "upgrade."
When those first blocks ran out, "2x1" calls were created with W, K, and N prefixes. As those also were assigned, "2x2" calls in the A prefix block started to be utilized (there will never be any "1x2" A calls because the United States controls only the AA-AL portion of the block. AM-AZ belong to other nations of the world).
The 4th district (southeastern United States) exhausted its group A call sign pool completely in 2012. There, a new extra class licensee does not automatically receive a preferential group A call sign, but receives a group B, the most recent being KX4BL. These calls were formerly issued to new advanced class amateurs, but that class was eliminated in the 1999 FCC restructuring. In the 4th district, it will be interesting to see what happens once the KY4 and KZ4 calls are gone. Would a new extra class then receive a group D call sign, and have to apply for a preferential one under the vanity program. This is the first district to have experienced this situation.
As the exhaustion of the "2x2" calls in the A block appears to be on the horizon now in the fifth district for the extra class as well, one assumes the FCC will eventually move into the "2x2" calls in the B block (K prefixes formerly the now-distontinued Advanced class). Systemmatic issuance of group B calls has been very slow recently, with only an occasional change by an advanced class ham requesting a new call. BUT, reclassification and/or reissuances of unused group C calls might also be a possibility.
DISTRIBUTION OF "1X3" W5 CALL SIGNS UPDATED 2017
As noted earlier, there are 676 W5 two letter call signs in use, all of them highly sought after and treasured by their extra class "group A" licensees since at least 1993 or earlier. Few, if any, of them held these licenses prior to 1976, but could have been licensed earlier under other calls. What about the other 6,035 "1x3" W5 call sign holders today? Here are the groupings by number of licensees and by the first letter of the alphabet, showing changes over the past year.
W5AAA-W5AZZ - Originally issued 1928 - 316(+10)
W5BAA-W5BZZ - Originally issued 1929 - 271 no change
W5CAA-W5CZZ - Originally issued 1930 - 306(+2)
W5DAA-W5DZZ - Originally issued 1931-1932 333(+5)
W5EAA-W5EZZ - Originally issued 1933-1934 - 233(-11)
W5FAA-W5FZZ - Originally issued 1935-1936 - 196(-1)
W5GAA-W5GZZ - Originally issued 1937 - 242(-4)
W5HAA-W5HZZ - Originally issued 1938 - 212 no change
W5IAA-W5IZZ - Originally issued 1939 - 169(-4)
W5JAA-W5JZZ - Originally issued 1940 - 316(+11)
W5KAA-K5KZZ - Originally issued 1941-1945 - 231(+6)
W5LAA-W5LZZ - Originally issued 1945 - 256(+12)
W5MAA-W5MZZ - Originally issued 1946 - 290(+9)
W5NAA-WFNZZ - Originally issued 1947 - 187(-10)
W5OAA-W5OZZ - Originally issued 1948 - 186(-4)
W5PAA-W5PZZ - Originally issued 1948 - 219(-11)
W5QAA-W5QZZ - Originally issued 1949 - 135(-4)
W5RAA-W5RZZ- Originally issued 1949 - 347(-11)
W5SAA-W5SZZ - Originally issued 1950 - 280(-7)
W5TAA-W5TZZ - Originally issued 1951 - 339(+12)
W5UAA-W5UZZ - Originally issued 1952 - 201(-14)
W5VAA-W5VZZ - Originally issued 1952 - 235(-3)
W5WAA-W5WZZ - Originally issued 1953 - 227(-2)
W5XAA-W5XZZ - 50(+1)
W5YAA-W5YZZ - Issued late 1954-1955 - 105(-6)
W5ZAA-W5ZZZ - Originally issued 1953-1954 - 125(+2)
As we update this page in February 2017, the most recent call signs issued in the "5th district" are as follows:
Group A - AG5IP
Group B - KM5ZK - No New Advanced Class Being Issued - only a few changed advanced calls recently
Group C - Virgin blocks exhausted. No systemmatic issuance.
Group D - KG5RLL
Here are the number of individually licensed amateur operators by state of the 5th radio district as of the end of January 2017. Due to coastal erosion, climate change, sales tax increases, and the poor economy in Louisiana, it's rankings continue to slip, running counter to the trends in other states of the district: Since the elimination of the code requirementin 2007, its ham population has actually declined by 8%.
Texas - 52,228
Oklahoma - 9,830
Arkansas - 7,952
New Mexico - 6,642
Louisiana - 6,270
Mississippi - 5,551
Here are possible still-current W5Z-- series calls still active with same or similar name as original (Updated January 2019):
W5ZHU - Robert W. Meitzen, Franklin, Texas (Born 8-8-34)
W5ZIT - James H. Brown, Farmersville, Texas (Age 81)
W5ZJC - Robert E. Carpenter, Houston, Texas (Age 89)
W5ZMF - Bennie L. Gallien, Garland, Texas (Age 89)
W5ZNN - Ralston B. Gober, Corsicana, Texas (Age 81 - Dentist?)
W5ZPD - Marjorie M. Jones, Waxahatchie, Texas (87) Could be Relative With Same Name
W5ZQR - David L. Bean, Pearland, Texas (79)
W5ZSL - Harlow Beene, Glorieta, NM (Age 89)
W5ZSV - Leonard R. Schmitt, Rowlett, Tx (Age 78)
W5ZSY - Otto H. Caldwell, Waco, Tx - 80
W5ZTG - Bob L. Ewards, San Angelo, Tx (Formerly Roswell?)
W5ZUA - Richard A. Norman, Keithville, LA (Age 92)
W5ZUT - Nadine Wells, Dallas, Texas (Age 92)
W5ZVR - Charles E. Smith, Little Rock, AR
W5ZWM - Cummins L. Hallmark, Jr. - Ponca City, OK or Willow Park, Tx
W5ZWN - Al G. Barnes, Westlake, LA (formerly Ponca City)
W5ZWZ - Pat R. Butler, Muskogee, OK, Born 1937 (Age 82)
W5ZXE - Jean H. Milliron, Alma, AR - Born November 9, 1927 (Age 92)
It is hoped that a review the earlier-issued calls from 1945-53 at some later time will bring to light some additional names of the "senior class" of "old timers" who are still operating under their original W5 call sign.
Updated February 1, 2019