Famous Hams

Thinking about becoming a ham, or already a ham and are worried that you will be perceived as a weirdo or geek? Well, maybe that’s true for you (depending on your personality ­čÖé ) but being a radio amateur in itself does not make you a pariah. There are many famous, accomplished, and reputable people who hold (or have held) amateur radio licenses. There are lists on amateur radio sites (links below) to some of them.

We will share one of the more interesting lists here of celebrity or famous hams, along with their notability. Some have passed away but others are still alive and kicking and active on the air. We’re talking about royalty, politicians, business pioneers, musicians, scientists, inventors, newscasters, journalists, and many astronauts (so they can communicate with earth stations while not doing official duties). While there is a [occasionally valid] stereotype of hams being grumpy brainy suspender-wearing heavyset bearded anti-social elderly men, that isn’t always the case. So after reading this list, the dork factor shouldn’t scare you off.

Here are some notable amateur radio operators known for prominent positions and/or achievements:

  • W1AW Hiram Percy Maxim, ARRL founder, silencer inventor
  • K1JT Dr. Joseph Taylor, 1993 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
  • KB1NXP John Baldacci, former Governor of Maine
  • W1ZE Irving Vermilya, first licensed radio amateur in the US
  • K2AMH Robert Moog, inventor of Moog synthesizer
  • W2BML Dr. Harold Beverage, inventor of Beverage antenna
  • K2GL Hazard Reeves, inventor of stereo sound system
  • KB2GSD Walter Cronkite, newscaster
  • K2ORS Jean Shepherd, writer, humorist
  • NE2Q Jay Kolinsky, electronic siren inventor
  • W2SGG Robert Cusumano, co-inventor of printed circuits
  • K2ZCZ George Pataki, former Governor of NY
  • NS3T Jamie Dupree, radio news correspondent
  • W4CGP Chet Atkins, singer, composer
  • WB4KCG Ronnie Milsap, singer, songwriter
  • K4EB Larry Junstrom, 38 Special band member(bass) and founding Lynyrd Skynrd member
  • N4KET David French, CNN news anchor
  • W4LAA Paul Kangas, co-anchor of Nightly Business Report
  • K4LIB Arthur Godfrey, TV personality
  • WD4LZC Larnell Harris, country & Christian music singer
  • WB4MCJ Carl Rochelle, news columnist
  • WA4SIR Ron Parise, astronaut
  • KD4WUJ Patti Loveless, singer
  • W4XAA/K2AES Tom Kneitel, magazine editor, columnist
  • K4ZVZ Gen. Paul Tibbets, WWII Enola Gay pilot (first atom bomb drop)
  • WA5AVA Dale Seidenschwarz (Clyde Clifford), Beaker St. radio host
  • KF5BOX Doug Wheelock, ISS astronaut
  • K5CSG Peggy Sue Gerron, subject of Buddy Holly hit song
  • W5GLJ George Marti, remote broadcast technology pioneer
  • W5LFL Dr. Owen Garriot, astronaut
  • N5QWL Jay Apt, astronaut
  • N5RAX Linda Godwin, astronaut
  • WB6ACU Joe Walsh, (Eagles) singer, guitarist, composer, record producer
  • W6BNB Robert Shrader, Electronic Communications text author
  • K6DUE Roy Neal, TV personality, news correspondent
  • W6EZV/K0GRL General Curtis Lemay, WWII leader and 1968 VP candidate
  • N6FFT Ray Briem, radio talk show host
  • N6FUP Stu Cook, bass player Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • W6FZZ Samuel F.B. Morse III, great grandson of code inventor
  • KA6HVK Burl Ives, singer and entertainer
  • NN6JA John Amodeo, TV Producer
  • N6KGB Stewart Granger, actor
  • KB6LQS Dick Rutan, pilot of Voyager airplane
  • KI6M Stu Gilliam, comedian
  • W6OBB Art Bell, syndicated radio personality
  • KD6OY Garry Shandling, actor, comedian
  • KE6PZH/FO5GJ Marlon Brando, actor
  • WB6RER Andy Devine, actor
  • W6UK Alvino Rey, musician, band leader
  • KA6UXR Dr. Alexander Comfort, author
  • N6YOS Priscilla Presley, actress
  • W6ZH Herbert Hoover, Jr. IARU & ARRL President
  • W6ZH/W6APW Herbert “Pete” Hoover III, AMSAT fundraiser
  • W7EQI Greg Walden, U.S. Congressman (1999-2020)
  • KA7EVD Donnie Osmond, singer
  • NK7U Joe Rudi, major league baseball player
  • K7UGA/6BPI/K3UIG Barry Goldwater, US Senator, 1964 Pres. candidate
  • 8CR Powell Crosley, broadcast pioneer, founded WLW
  • W8OK Frank Schwab, Mr. Hamvention
  • 9ALD Edgar Johnson, founder of E F Johnson Company
  • 9DRV David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett Packard
  • W9EGV John Frye, columnist Carl & Jerry, Mac’s Service Shop
  • K9EID Bob Heil, concert sound engineer, inventor
  • W0CXX Art Collins, founder of Collins Radio
  • W0FQY Carl Mosley, founder of Mosley Electronics
  • DG1KIM Ulrich Walter, astronaut
  • EA0JC Juan Carlos, King of Spain
  • HS1A Bhumiphol Adulayadej, King of Thailand
  • I0FCG Francesco Cossiga, President of Italy
  • JY1 King Hussein of Jordan
  • RV3DW Sergei Avdeyev, astronaut
  • TI2DR David Ruben M. D., author
  • VU2RJ Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India
  • YN1AS General Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua
  • 9N1MM Rev. Marshall Moran, Jesuit Priest, Educator (Nepal)
  • WB4APR Bob Bruninga (SK), inventor of APRS in 1992

A couple of bass players there, interestingly enough, and the author worked K4EB before he died; also worked K1JT, for total of two notables on this list.

This is not a comprehensive list, and it may be dated, as are some others you can look at:

WB4HFN list (dated)

Famous Hams QRZ discussion

Famous Hams on HF Underground wiki

Oxley Region ARC list

Ham Radio Insider list

QSL Net list

Famous Hams and their Callsigns

YouTube video Top20 hams

There. Now now after seeing this list, don’t you feel better about our great pastime?