Club History

Club History

The following is “borrowed” from the hard work done by Jack Burris (K6JEB) in researching and compiling this history. The full article can be found at our sister UC Berkeley Club, W6BB.

The reason I thought to include this except is to explain the club’s name, NU6XB (4/26/2016). You may have thought it was arbitrary, but it’s far from the truth! Professor Lustig (KK6MRI) thought it would be fitting to name the NEW club after the original club, 6XB … NU6XB … get it?!?! 🙂

According to the January 1923 issue of CALIFORNIA ENGINEER, the University of California Radio Club was formally established in the Mechanic’s Building in February of 1914. (Matt Trail, KN6CR, Amateur Historian, 8/25/1993) Early experimental stations in Berkeley, California:

1913 6XR Frank Rieber
1914 6XB University of California
1921 6XK Bernard F. McNamee
1921 6XM University of California

According to the U.S. Special Land Stations: 1913-1921 Recap by Thomas H. White — October 7, 2000, the sixth United States and first West Coast expermental call sign 6XR was issued on or before 7/1/1913 to Frank Rieber in Berkeley, California. This Frank Rieber may have been the scientist, Frank Rieber, who was the son of Dr. Charles Henry Rieber. Frank graduated from Berkeley High School and received his B.S. degree in 1915 from the University of California. The Charles H. Rieber house at 15 Canyon Road, built in 1904, is Berkeley City historical landmark #217 (LPC #216). I do not know if Frank operated from on campus or not, but he may have.The experimental radio station call sign 6XB was issued to the University of California between 1/1/1914 and 4/1/1914. It appeared in Supplement No. 3 to the 7/1/1913 Radio Stations of the United States published 4/1/1914. Supplement No. 2 was published 1/1/1914. This is consistent with the club being formed in February of 1914.Commercial and amateur radio operation was suspended for World War I on 4/7/1917. Civilians were not allowed to possess radio transmitters. Call signs appear to have been reissued following the war. The experimental radio station call sign 6XM was issued to the University of California in 1921. (Amateur radio call sign 6BB may have been issued about this time. This needs to be researched further.) The call sign 6XB was assigned to another station. “KFDB, a commercial 1,500 watt radio station in San Francisco, began operation in August 1922 using the experimental call sign 6XB;” and “KQI, an educational station operated by the University of California in Berkeley, hadn’t been on the air a month before it folded for some long-forgotten reason” according to EARLY BROADCASTING INTHE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, STATIONS THAT DIDN’T SURVIVE: 1920-25 by John F. Schneider (1997). KQI is listed in 1923 with the assigned frequency of 833 KHz. (Educational FM radio station KALX at U.C. Berkeley began broadcasting in 1967.)(William Wells, WB6NLL, 10/21/2005)That same list [U.S. Special Land Stations 1913-1921 Recap] shows another Cal license 6XM issued in 1921. Right next to 6XM is 6XK, issued to my grandpa Bernard F. McNamee, who was a business partner in Berkeley with Lee DeForest, the inventor of the vacuum tube (or so DeForest claimed). 73 de WB6PIO P.S.: In those days radio licenses came from the Dept. of Commerce, whose Secretary was a certain Stanford geology Ph.D. who later became president of the U.S. And whose son served many years as the president of the A.R.R.L., into my own childhood memory.(Bernie Walp, WB6PIO, 10/20/2005)

From: Matt KN6CR, President The club no longer has our pre-WWII archives, so I’ve been doing a little digging to recover some our early history. The following is still somewhat sketchy, … I have a slightly more detailed account …

  • 1914 First wireless messages from government station in Arlington are received on longwire stretching from top of unfinished Campanile to Mechanics building.
  • 1916 First mention in Daily Cal of University Radio Society. Club broadcasts Big Game (with Washington) from bleachers. Club enters Carnegie foundation sponsored League of University Wireless Clubs to relay news, sports, etc.
  • 1917 Club helps government radio inspector to rid Bay Area of pesky, interfering unlicensed radio stations! Reference to “special experimental license granted to club”.
  • 1921 First commercial wireless operator’s license to woman, Barbara Burks ’24.
  • 1921 Charter affiliation with ARRL. (They don’t have any record, tho’.)
  • 1923 Club broadcasts alumni banquet; heard around country. Club establishes university substation for Oakland Tribune’s 500 watt transmitter.
  • 1927 New distance record HF contact for club–Australia, 40 meters, 10 watts.
  • 1929 License W6BB granted.
  • 1930′s Club appears to be pretty inactive until 1939 reorganization. Repeated references to acting as wire service for campus papers.
  • 1946 Club reactivated after WWII; gets donated Signal Corps equipment and has shack in men’s gym.
  • 1950 Club (re)affiliated with 1950 (we have this certificate; first ARRL HQ record on us.
  • 1954 Club now on 5 bands with 30 members. We have shack in Cory Hall for next 30 years, when we are displaced and homeless for 4 yrs.

    Anyways, there is more, but this covers the highlights of the earlier decades.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 8/14/1993)