MRHS Newsletter No. 49

Dedicated to True Believers Worldwide

27 October 2014

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> Mini Night of Nights 1 November - MF Madness!

> No RTTY Service 1 November

> KPH Log - 7 December 1941

> Frank Geisel's Report No. 1 - 1946

> New Information - MRHS to Offer Radiotelegraph License Exams

> Mini Night of Nights 1 November - MF Madness!

In Newsletter No. 47 we announced our Mini Night of Nights event to take place on the evening of 1 November (Pacific time).  We're happy to report that those plans are still on and that members of the Transmitter and Operations Departments have stepped up to assure that KSM (and K6KPH) will be standing tall.  Plus Bill Ruck has offered to feed the staff with his famous radioman's hash (not made from real radiomen we hope) and Chief Operator Dillman will be supplying an example of his "my o my" key lime pie.  We may have to use large pointed sticks to prod the operations staff out of the kitchen and back to their operating positions.  Ruck, being "Morse challenged" as he puts it, will not receive such treatment.

What's the idea behind this event?  Well, we know it's tough for many folks to copy the MF signals of KSM during our normal daytime (Pacific time) operations.  We've often thought about a Mini Night of Nights during the winter that would continue into the evening hours and emphasize MF operations.

The propagation of our HF signals will be different too, so listeners beyond MF range may be able to copy us at locations where we are not heard during the day.

How late will we stay on?  That's hard to say since it will largely depend on the sleep inducing qualities of the excellent meal provided by Ruck.  But on the regular Night of Nights events we usually run out of steam at about 9:30 or 10:00pm Pacific time so it'll probably be similar for M NoN.

A romantic view of the receive site as the evening sun sets

Our advice?  Get your MF receivers working and grease up your Beverage antennas to see what you can snatch out of the aether.  Then send in your reports.  If the event seems popular then we'll consider making it an annual thing.

Report address:

Maritime Radio Historical Society
PO Box 392
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

We're working in cooperation with Dr. Fritz Raab for this event.  He's the coordinator for the ARRL 500kc experiment.  He's organizing a concurrent event during which the experimental stations that have been authorized for MF operation will also be on the air.

This event marks the 106th anniversary of the Berlin Treaty that created the international distress frequency at 500kc. US experimental stations, Canadian amateur stations and commercial coast stations like KSM will be on the air.

KSM will keep 500kc and its working frequency 426kc active with special messages, weather and traffic lists.

KSM's mighty 5kW MF transmitter A7 will keep 500kc and 426kc jumping

For US experimental stations, this will be a CW event.  The main activities will include the transmission of beacons with special anniversary messages. Other stations will simulate maritime communication by making contact on a designated calling frequency, then shift to a working frequency to complete the QSO. Silent periods will be observed.  The frequency bands are 465 to 480 kHz and 495 to 510 kHz. Different licensees have different frequency authorizations. 

The dates for the experimental event (not to be confused with the MRHS Mini Night of Nights event) are weekend of October 31 - November 2.  More information may be found at

> No RTTY Service 1 November

Our RTTY service via KSM is keyed from the Bolinas transmitter site by Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes.  However Steve will be away on Saturday 1 November so RTTY service will be suspended on that day.  We hope to return to the air on RTTY the following Saturday, 8 November.

> KPH Log - 7 December 1941

Control of all civilian coast station was assumed by the military soon after the outbreak of hostilities with the Empire of Japan on 7 December 1941.  At the conclusion of the war KPH and its competitors re-opened at the point to point receive site at Point Reyes under the baton of Frank Geisel, "Mr. KPH".  FG soon found that one of his many problems was finding adequate staff (see an example of his reports below).  He tapped his daughter Gloria to come to work at the station.

"Lunch time hi-jinks at KPH 1948" says the caption on the back of this photo.  Gloria sitting, her dad, FG, standing far right

One of our most cherished KPH photos is that of Gloria Geisel typing a sea letter radiogram on an Underwood typewriter at KPH. 

Gloria did us the great honor of attending Night of Nights in 2012.  Naturally we immediately sat her down at one of our vintage Underwood typewriters to re-create the historic photo.

We recently received an email from Gloria with a most extraordinary offer.  She had possession of the original KPH logs from the month of December 1941 and she wished to donate them to the MRHS.  We're sure all True Believers will understand the dramatic importance of this offer.  We had seen copies of the log, but they were poor quality.  In the process of binding the copied pages, holes had been punched through some of the all important time entries.  Some parts of the log were off the scanned page completely.  We were thankful to see those scanned pages and we have copies at the receive station for visitors to view.  But the original pages, the ones that actual operators wrote and typed upon, represent a direct connection with the events of that most dramatic day - and with the rest of the month as ships were torpedoed and submarines were sighted off the California coast.

Gloria offered to mail the log to us.  But we could not trust this irreplaceable document to the tender mercies of the USPS.  Besides, we wanted the opportunity to sit down and chat with Gloria about her life, her dad and her adventures as a young girl at KPH.  Thus chief operator Dillman journeyed to Petaluma, CA to meet with Gloria and accept her wonderful gift.

Gloria with the December 1941 log
We've only had the chance to browse the precious pages.  Absorption of all the fact and nuance they contain will take long hours of reading and research to bring the full picture of the events described in their sparse prose into focus.  We've selected just two pages to give you some idea of what the men of KPH heard and did on that shocking day.  We've reproduced them in large format with the hope that you'll be able to read every detail.

At 0749 (1749 GMT) Territory of Hawaii time air attack commander Mitsuo Fuchida, looking down on Pearl Harbor, observed that while the American aircraft carriers were not at anchor, all the battleships were.  He ordered his radio operator to send the prearranged message to ra, to ra, to ra indicating that full surprise had been achieved. 

Meanwhile, at the KPH receive site in Marshall, CA, the day seemed normal.  D. S. Seherra (we hope we have the name correct) signed on watch at the HF position at 0800 GMT.  He began the press transmission on 8 and 12Mc at 0810 GMT, which continued until 1107 GMT.  Then the usual business of maritime commerce ensued with messages received from WHBR and WGGE.  The traffic list was broadcast as usual at 1300 and 1500 GMT.  Frank Geisel signed on the log at 1600 GMT, having no idea of the electrifying transmissions that would soon fill his earphones.  At 1830 GMT he received a message from WGGE, the last normal message the station would copy.

At 1836 GMT he switched from long hand to a mill for log keeping to copy a message from SS MATSONIA/KIEK to Globe Wireless station KTK (south of San Francisco at Mussel Rock) reporting a SOS sent by USAT CYNTHIA OLSON, a 2140 ton lumber freighter chartered by the US Army, the first merchant ship torpedoed in the war.

At 1909 GMT SS MATSONIA/KIEK asked KPH to rush a message to NPG (US Navy San Francisco) reporting the SOS and SSS (under attack by submarine) from USAT CYNTHIA OLSON.

Continuing on the next page, FG mentions that they are able to cover HF only at intervals because they are so busy on 500kc.  However at 2013 GMT he copied a message from the commandant 12th Naval District to SS MATSONIA/KIEK ordering that ship to return to San Francisco at top speed.

Then, at 2137 GMT, he copied a message from sister station WCC Cape Cod to WGBC (all US merchant ships): EXECUTE WPL (war plan) AGAINST JAPAN 071930 SIGNED SECRETARY OF NAVY.  He notes the same message being sent from WSL (Amagansett Long Island).   At 2140 GMT KPH sent the same message as intercepted from WCC.

Put yourself in the place of these men and imagine the thoughts that must have been coursing through their minds at they copied these fateful messages.  Yet, true professionals, they kept the log, copied messages and stayed at their posts as the day and the month brought more shock, surprise and fear.  They had a front row seat for events taking place across the Pacific as the Japanese Empire began its rampage leading to victory after victory as the United States, completely unprepared, found itself plunged into war.

> Frank Geisel's Report No. 1 - 1946

KPH was closed for the duration of WWII.  When it re-opened in 1946 it was at a considerable disadvantage.  First, it had to move into new, cramped quarters at the point to point receive building at Point Reyes.  At Bolinas, only a 200W MF (or Intermediate Frequency, as it was then called) transmitter was available.  No HF transmitters could be provided.  Experienced operators were hard to find because the pay was low and the site was remote.  And finally, ships, even RCA ships, has gotten used to using other stations like arch competitor KFS.

On the other hand, RCA tapped Frank Geisel as the obvious choice to get the station back on the air and make it competitive once again.  Frank succeeded and became known as Mr. KPH in the process.  But it was slow, difficult going.

We are wonderfully fortunate to have copies of FG's monthly reports from 1946 and 1947.  They make fascinating reading and show both the state of the art at the time as well as the almost impossible situation he faced.

We've included below FG's first report dates 13 February 1946 as KPH takes its first staggering steps toward once again becoming the Wireless Giant of the Pacific.  If there's any interest in these reports we will include more installments in future Newsletters.  Please let us know by sending an email to

> New Information - MRHS to Offer Radiotelegraph License Exams

As reported in MRHS Newsletter No. 48, we have entered into an agreement with the W5YI Group to administer FCC Telegraph Operators license examinations. Approval has been granted - and, we currently are awaiting receipt of credentials and license examination materials from the W5YI Commercial Licensing Examination Manager (COLEM). Notification will be provided in the Newsletter once we have the materials on hand.


This penultimate license will be of great interest to True Believers. By successfully completing the examination, you obviously will get bragging rights - but, more importantly, will gain the qualifications needed to sit the commercial circuit at KSM! Upon successful completion of the examination, you will receive a Proof of Passing Certificate (PPC), which grants immediate authority to operate KSM on commercial frequencies.





Excellent! Take your exam on a Saturday morning at our Point Reyes Station examination site, pass your exam, and get a PPC. Then, come out to the station, tour the facilities, and begin operating that afternoon. File your PPC with the FCC on the duly designated form, and get your permanent license directly from the FCC by mail.


So, how exactly does all this work?


I submitted a request to the W5YI COLEM to form a Commercial Test Center, which has authority to administer FCC commercial license examinations. As part of that process, the W5YI COLEM has approved my assignment as Test Center Manager, and has approved three MRHS volunteers (Richard Dillman, Steve Hawes, and Bill Ruck) as Commercial Radio Examiners. We have agreed to offer examinations on a periodic basis (initially quarterly) at our examination sites (Point Reyes Station and Richmond, CA). Obviously, our focus is to develop a pool of qualified licensed radiotelegraph operators who can operate and help maintain equipment at our facilities, and to provide similar licensing support for others who need licensed radiotelegraph operators. This addresses our needs, as well as those of historic ships in the San Francisco Bay Area: the SS Red Oak Victory and the SS Jeremiah O'Brien.


The W5YI website ( ) provides details of the application process, costs, and available Commercial Test Centers. You will find my name (Roy Henrichs) listed on their website as a point of contact for scheduling examinations through our group; you can reach me via email: Also, the W5YI website defines cost for the examination, which depends on the number of examination elements that you take - with cost currently set at $25 per element, with a two element minimum.


So, what are these elements, and how many do you have to take? To qualify for the license, you must obtain credit for Telegraphy Elements 1 and 2 (16 WPM code groups, and 20 WPM plain language, respectively); Element 1 (Basic Radio Law and Operating Practice); and Element 6 (Advanced Radiotelegraph). Details of these elements and question pools can be found on the FCC website ( and its links. Further details of requirements can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 47, Chapter 1, Subchapter A, Part 13 - Telecommunication - Federal Communications Commission - General - Commercial Radio Operators); see Confused by that? Well, it's the FCC Rules and Regulations, also referenced by link from the FCC website.


For those who have an expired or unexpired Amateur Extra Class license granted before April 15, 2000, or an FCC Third Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate that was renewed as a Marine Operator Permit (unexpired or within the grace period), credit will be given for Telegraphy Elements 1 and 2. Suffice to say that proof will be required - and that should not be a problem.


This means that the examination will require between two and four elements, with a minimum cost of $50 and a maximum of $100, depending on whether you can obtain credit for the two Telegraphy elements. If you decide to go whole hog, you could opt to take Element 8 (Ship Radar Endorsement) for another $25. While not required for telegraph operation, that would permit you to maintain and repair ship radar equipment - either on a pleasure boat, or perhaps on one of the historic ships. In the old days, most people took this while sitting the rest of the Telegraph Operator's license exam (then, a First Class or Second Class Radiotelegraph Operator's License exam).  


The total examination process should not take more than two to three hours during the morning. So, the basic concept holds: exam in the morning, tour and operate in the afternoon. All good!


Finally, understand that MRHS does not set the fees for these examination elements, and does not receive any compensation for administering these exams: all fees go directly to the W5YI COLEM.


We are providing a public service similar to that of our VEC counterparts in the amateur radio community. MRHS members are National Park Service volunteers, and are volunteer examiners in our role in operating the Commercial Test Center for the W5YI Group. We are not paid employees of MRHS, the National Park Service, or the W5YI Group - we are strictly volunteers. It is that simple.


So, OMs and YLs - after we receive examination materials, the next step is up to you. We look forward to having you on board soon . . ..


Roy Henrichs




> MRHS Merchandise


Support the MRHS and look cool at the same time. Such a deal!  We've got hats, mugs, T shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers, all with variations of the MRHS logo.  Get a hat and mug for yourself and a put yourself in solid with the XYL by getting her a MRHS hoodie.


Plus you'll want to be looking sharp when you visit us on Night of Nights.  No better way to do that than to be rocking some MRHS swag. 


Click on the images to go to the True Believers Store







 Just click on the images above to go to the MRHS True Believers store and browse our offerings.  Thanks!




We very much look forward to meeting you on the air or in person at the station.  Or at Pacificon!  Until then we wish you the best of luck and fair winds & following seas.