For a change, this month, I thought that we might feature a local ham who years ago might have been one of the coveted DX stations that we seek out on HF.
Varouj Kalinian, N6DBH was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1934. He had a brother who was an aviation electrician and got him interested in electronics in general. There was a war in 1958 which imposed radio silence in the region but when it was allowed again, he got a Marconi receiver and began SWLing. He already had a college degree but took a correspondence course from National Technical School in Los Angeles in English, of course, and got a technical degree. He heard a really strong signal on the ham bands and found it was a local ham. He found the address and went to the apartment of OD5AG who was an electronics engineer and became his mentor to get his ham license in 1959 as OD5CS.
He built his first radio from the course which was a 6AG7 and a 6L6 running about 30 watts on crystal control.
He upgraded to a HeathKit DX 40 and the outboard VF-1 VFO which took six months to ship from Benton Harbor to Beirut and another two month to clear customs. He found this old picture shown here and told me that the microphone was an old fan base and a tape recorder mic.
His career turned to commercial broadcast and sound engineering.
He tells the story of moving to the US. He had always wanted to come to this country. His Father had lived here in the early 1900’s, and spoke of it often.
In June 1974, he realized he was tired of the many wars in his part of the world and sensed that another was coming. He had a wife and a daughter and moved quickly to avoid the next one which lasted fifteen years. He avoided not only that one, but three more in the areas since he left.
He ended up in Fresno. He learned to make stealth antennas in his first apartment since anything visible was prohibited. He was eventually able to purchase a home with a yard. He tells me that for him, “yard” meant “radio tower”, to his wife, it meant lawn, and shade. He met Ralph Saroyan, W6JPU and soon got his novice license in the US with the call letters, KA6KFY and traveled to San Francisco to take his general class with his his present call now 31 years ago. He has since upgraded.
In this country his professional career involved working for Larry Webster repairing and selling amateur radio equipment after first working for Don Cook at his communications shop. You might recognize these fellows as ham radio connections.
He then taught at Fresno City College in Radio/TV/and electronics.
After becoming a citizen, he was able to sit for the first class commercial radiotelephone license and then worked at Channel 18 starting in 1981 and stayed with that station for 13 years.
His last job before retiring was teaching and interpreting Arabic with the Selma Unified School district where he also was involved in sound productions.
He retired in 2002 but could not keep his hand out of work and now is on call for certified interpreting in Armenian, French, and Arabic.
I asked Varouj what his favorite aspect of ham radio might be and he told me three things: Antennas (especially experimenting), DXing and electronics swap meets.
He has been a member of FARC continuously since soon after moving to Fresno.
By: Joe Capell, W0PJD