Re: KN4 calls - blast from the past !

Stephen Melachrinos

Mike -

You are absolutely right. Here's the "full" story.

WN calls were issued originally when the Novice license first came out in 1951. They were issued in-sequence with the W 1x3s that were then being issued to higher grade licensees. Those Novices then would simply drop the N when they upgraded.

When the FCC made it through the W 1x3 sequence for a district (i.e., to W#ZZZ), they started with the K 1x3s. And in that sequence, Novices got a KN prefix (as Jerry pointed out), where the N was dropped upon upgrading.

Near the end of the 1950s, the FCC had run out of unissued 1x3 callsigns in some districts (typically 2nd and 6th) so they started going through the W 1x3s again to reissue vacant calls. I think they might have done some K 1x3s too. Eventually, though, by the early 1960s they moved to a new sequence--the WA 2x3s. And when the first Novice was issued in the WA sequence, he (or she) received a WV prefix. My guess is that either they didn't want to reissue the WN call, or they wanted a distinctive prefix for a call that would become WA. I also guess that the V came from the third letter of Novice. WV calls were issued through much of the WA sequence, ending in the mid-60s or so.

Around that time, the FCC realized they'd have to move to WB prefixes, and they probably also realized there weren't very many consonants in the word Novice, so they went back to WNs, which became WB. The actual transition from the WA series to the WB series was district-dependent, and was solely based on "finishing" the WA series. So the 2nd and 6th districts transitioned earliest, and the 1st and 3rd were the last.

As the FCC got near the end of the WBs for 2nd and 6th districts, they delayed moving to the next letter. So, reminiscent of the 1x3 reissues in the 1950s, they went back through the WAs first, and then the WBs, in certain districts. And at least in the 2nd district, they went through a third time. I became WN2FKS in the spring of 1976, and I immediately found a callbook to discover that WB2FKS was already issued, so I knew I'd become WA2FKS upon upgrading.

Very late in 1976, the FCC decided to do away with all distinctive Novice calls. So every Novice was issued the companion WA or WB call they would have eventually received. And Novices issued after that received "regular" (non-Novice) calls, at least for a few years.

Some time in late 1976 or into 1977, FCC moved into the WD series in certain districts. (The C was skipped because WC calls were limited to RACES stations.) I don't remember if that was before or after the WNs went away, so I don't know if there were any WN Novices who upgraded to a WD.

And as a side note, the WN (or WV) prefixes were only used in the lower 48 states. Outside of the lower 48, where "regular" callsigns all started with K (KP4, KL7, KH6, etc), Novices received W calls (WP4, WL7, WH6), and the W became a K upon upgrading.

Then everything changed in 1978, when the FCC introduced the current Group A/B/C/D system. Novices were only eligible for Group D calls, so they received K 2x3s. But there was no requirement to change the call upon upgrading, so many Novices kept their "Novice" call instead of trading it in for an N 1x3 (for Techs and Generals), a 2x2 (for Advanced), or a 2x1 (for Extras). FCC also implemented a de facto policy of not reissuing calls. That's why they never went to the W or K prefix for 1x3s, which drives new Techs down to Group D now.

And this last fact is what makes these new KN calls so interesting, at least to me, because the FCC is now systematically re-issuing calls in a way that they haven't done for over 40 years. 

(who moonlights as an amateur radio callsign historian) 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Besemer <mwbesemer@...>
To: 070Club <>
Sent: Thu, Dec 7, 2017 7:41 pm
Subject: Re: [070Club] KN4 calls - blast from the past !

I’m pretty sure they stopped the ‘N’ long before the novice went away. I seem to recall guys getting KA8 or KB8 calls as novices.


From: [] On Behalf Of Mike W0TMW
Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 7:32 PM
Subject: Re: [070Club] KN4 calls - blast from the past !

I had a WN0 in the early '70s. They stopped the 'N' when the FCC killed the Novice license.
Mike - W0TMW #2207

"Lose not thy airspeed, lest the ground rises up and smites thee."
-- William Kershner
On 12/07/2017 06:05 PM, Jerry N9AVY wrote:
Probably early 60's. ..... Lost records ? You believed those goldbricks who avoid work at all costs at FCC ??? All you need do is pick up an old callbook from the time you had WN call and look in up.

Jerry n9avy
From: Steve R via Groups.Io <>
Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 5:59 PM
Subject: Re: [070Club] KN4 calls - blast from the past !

When did the WN stop being issued? I got my novice sometime around 1973 or 74. My call was WA4QZP. I could never find my original ticket....buried in 40 years of stuff at Mom and Dad”s place. I was told all those old records were lost at the FCC.


Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 7, 2017, at 18:53, Jerry N9AVY <n9avy@...> wrote:
Those 2x1 and 1x2 calls go like hot cakes. People are waiting for years and pounce on them. There are web pages devoted to them with lots of data as to when they expire, belong to an SK, etc. If you know the SK's heirs, you can get one of them to sign off on it and the FCC will give you a grant almost immediately. That's how W9CA got reissued as a Club call. Yet, the original W9CA's license plate "W9CA" (IL white letters on red background) still hangs in the Elmhurst (IL) Portillo's.

My old WD9HQQ call has not been reissued and rightfully so ... it was a pain in CW.

Jerry n9avy
From: Mike Besemer <mwbesemer@...>
Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 5:40 PM
Subject: Re: [070Club] KN4 calls - blast from the past !

I started out as WN8AGD, then became WD8AGD when I upgraded to Technician. When I got my Extra in 1980 (I was a H.S. senior), I became KG8L. I kept that call until we built the house here in Georgia; figured I was gonna stay here – I ought to get a ‘4’ call!

I checked the other day, and WD8AGD has not been reissued. KG8L has been reissued twice.



From: [] On Behalf Of Matthew King - KK4CPS
Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 6:18 PM
Subject: Re: [070Club] KN4 calls - blast from the past !

Yup, all the new Technician calls here are KN4 here lately. I didn't realize that they were old novice calls. Neat!


Matt King
AK4MK - 070 #1708
PODXS 070 Club Executive Director

On Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 6:01 PM, Jerry N9AVY <n9avy@...> wrote:
Those of us who were around in the 50's & 60's might remember the KN prefix as that for Novice licensees. If you don't that's okay.

Have worked/heard about 3 in the past few days. Looks like the FCC ran out of prefixes and has opened up the KN4 block... figuring no one will not if they not told they have recycled calls, hi ! hi!

It's good to see them back on the air. My club call , K9ATI, was originally that of a high school buddy Skip Dewell, KN9ATI, and later K9ATI. Searched for him, but no sign anywhere. Anyhow, I you work a KN call outside of 4-land, you might ask if that was operators original call.

What's next ? Reissueing W, WB, WA, WD ,K and back to N calls ???

Jerry n9avy

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