To continue with RAWNY’s dedication to teaching new hams about how to get on the air, and as a refresher to those with years of experience behind them, we present the following article which originally appeared in the January 1983 issue of QST (and later reprinted in the April 1993 issue of QST) entitled “Repeaters: An Eavesdropper’s Paradise” written by Richard Rhodes – at that time an agent of the CIA.
In this article, Mr. Rhodes talks about repeaters and how they can literally open the conversations of ham radio operators to the entire world if we let our guard down and fail to operate discreetly. Keep in mind that this article was written when there were no cell phones, social media, or the internet for that matter. His mention of a “phone patch” brings us back to a time when making a phone call through a repeater was a relatively common function to those who had the access codes to turn the patch on or off.
In the article, Mr. Rhodes mentions getting information about a ham in the “Callbook”, which was similar to a telephone directory where a ham’s address was listed. Thanks to the Internet, more specifically QRZ.com, it’s now easier to find exactly where a ham is located. Google Maps can even show your house complete with antenna farm.The age of the article, or Mr. Rhodes humorous but serious approach doesn’t fail to convey the urgency of the topic especially if you’re giving out what should be personal information to total strangers simply by putting it out on the air.
Imagine being a married man and making a phone call via a repeater to your “girlfriend” saying you’re on your way over but neglecting to realize that what you’re saying is going out on the air! Food for thought to say the least. Think before you hit the PTT.