HAM Radio 101

Word of the Day: (Elmer): Why Do We Call a Ham Radio Mentor “Elmer?”

Say the word “Elmer” to a non-Ham and two thoughts spring to mind: glue for elementary craft projects and a bald-headed rabbit hunter who has trouble pronouncing his Rs (see Barber of Seville). In the Amateur Radio realm, Elmers hold a high place of esteem. The word means an experienced operator who takes a novice under his or her wing, providing personal guidance and answers to the thousands of questions that confront the newbie. It can also be used as a verb, as in, “Elmering an aspiring operator is a cherished tradition that goes back to the early days of the hobby.”

The word has relatively recent origins. It first appeared in a 1971 QST article by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD, in which he bemoans the all-too-familiar story of an eager student who falls off the Amateur Radio wagon once his mentor moves away. He wrote, “Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: ‘Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'”

Tell us about your Elmer. We’d love to hear about the individual who got you started in Ham Radio. And if you’re looking for an Elmer close by, a  good place to start is at your local Amateur Radio club, where you’ll find plenty of knowledgeable folks who can help. Or give DX Engineering a call. Our team is filled with Elmers who can offer sage advice on what you need to get started, like the current ARRL license manual and other useful resources. Already have your license? DX Engineering also has starter kits for mobile radios and HTs to get you on the air fast.

For expert assistance from our Elmers, email Elmer@DXengineering.com.

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