Friday, November 15, 2013


     His name was Marshall H. Ensor.  He was a shop teacher in Olathe, Kansas; except for a stint traning radiomen during WW II, he spent most of his life there.  He spent it talking to the world and not just idle chatter, either -- Marshall Ensor (and his sister Loretta) spent evenings sending code practice and "teaching radio by radio," a free-for-the-listening lecture course over the powerful W9BSP - W9UA transmitter.
     I'd read all this in back issues of ARRL's magazine QST.  What I didn't know is the house where they lived is now a museum and the grounds around it are a park.  That big transmitter, in its fine-furniture cabinet, is back on the air again.

     As a shop teacher, he reached thousands.  There's no way to know how many people, all over the world, he taught about radio.  Tens of thousands?  (This modest man admitted in a resume sent to the U. S. Navy, "Reputed to have trained more radio operators than any other individual in the United States.") And all from a farmhouse in Kansas.


  1. There are more than a few of them out there and meeting them is something bigger than reading about them.


  2. What do all them knobs and dials do, RX? I'm pretty sure I've figured out the bottom center one, but that's it.

  3. It's a kiloWatt AM rig, NJT. Best guess: top three calibrated dials are output tuning/matching, middle five are driver/multiplier stages, bottom two are the exciter tuning. The uncalibrated ones, I'm not so sure about; there's a little nickle-plated Hoyt or Readrite meter just above the first of the five driver/mult knobs, and the knob next to it is some kind of mod -- maybe a front-panel neutralization control for the final, or something for the postwar 15 meter band? Lower down there's a pair that may be audio gain and/or bias adjust. The two lightswitch-type switches are probably Heater and Plate on-off and the multi-blade knife switches each side could be AM/CW and high/low power controls, and can probably bite you; there's what looks like an arc mark in the #3 position of the right-hand one. Power supply (or at least the transformers and chokes) for this was in the basement and I believe the modulation transformer was, too.

  4. RX, you keep sending me down rabbit holes. I need to quit reading your blog for my own good. You got me going on fountain pens, and you got me going on ham radio. I'm not retro on the ham yet, but I uneasily foresee it in my future...

  5. The Midland Radio School in nearby Kansas City trained thousands of military radio operators during the early years of WWII. I'm curious if there could have been a connection between that organization and Mr. Ensor. My father learned high-speed CW at Midland in 1942 - 43, and I still have the straight key he was issued while there. If I work you on HF CW, I'll be on that key. But I won't be copying at 65wpm as he did while in the Philippines.