will be conducting an amateur radio "special event" February 18-26, 2012 to commemorate a historic Washington's Birthday amateur radio message relay which was conducted on February 22, 1916 by members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL); formed in 1914; and members of the Radio League of America (1915-1921).

The special event will be conducted from BCARA's club station W8WRK located in the original station building of Special Land Station "8ZU" (1915-1919) which was one of the twenty-seven primary receiving and sending stations used for the February 22, 1916 radio message relay! 

(Special Land Station 8ZU, at 329 N C Street, Hamilton, OH was operated by the Doron Brothers Electrical Company.  The Dorons operated amateur radio stations "D5" (pre-1911), "8AJT" (1912-1915), Special Experimental Station "8XAG" (1922-1925), and "WRK" (1922-1930) which was the first broadcast radio station in the City of Hamilton and our country's 57th licensed broadcast radio station.)  


Transmitting/Receiving Information

BCARA will be using its club call sign W8WRK for the special event and will be operating from 7 AM EST Saturday, February 18 to 7 PM EST Sunday, February 26 on the following bands: 10 Meter at 28.410, 20 Meter at 14.245, 40 Meter at 7.220  7.052, 80 Meter at 3.838.  The operating time may be changed and, depending upon band conditions at the time of event, there may be band and frequency changes.    For up-to-the-minute station status when the event starts click here

A QSL “card” will be issued for contacts made during the special event except for contacts made during the 24-hour period of February 22 for which an 8.5 inch X 11 inch QSL “certificate” will be issued instead (see below). 

During the 24-hour period of February 22 (Washington’s Birthday) we will quote a George Washington related “special phrase” during our contact with you and if you QSL us in writing with the phase we will issue the special QSL “certificate”.   Note for "SWL’s" (short-wave listeners): If you QSL us in writing with the “special phrase” you hear, we will also issue you the special “certificate”.  

We will be issuing a separate “Guest Operator” certificate of contact  for Boy Scouts or other youth groups who wish to try amateur radio and get-on-the-air as a “third party” in accordance with FCC “third part messaging” regulations.  

To view the QSL certificate, QSL card, and mailing instructions click here.   

For the Special Event W8WRK will be transmitting from the original station building of the Doron's radio stations 8ZU (1915-1919) and WRK (1922-1930) (photos right) using antennas suspended from WRK's original antenna tower (photos left).  The old WRK antenna tower may be one the country's last standing original towers from the 1920's era of broadcast radio!


1916 ARRL / RLA Washington's Birthday amateur radio message relay

In April 1914 amateur radio buffs formed the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and by  August 1914 it had more than 200 relay stations.  In 1915 the Doron’s 8ZU became an ARRL relay station. 

Although limited to the 200-meter band, these regular amateurs, many of who were using primitive and low-cost homemade equipment, were often out-performing government and business stations on long distance transmission and reception.  The ARRL persuaded the Department of Commerce to allow special operations on 425 meters (706 kHz) for amateur relay work in remote areas.

In October 1915 the Radio League of America (RLA) was formed and both organizations began to jointly cooperate.  To show how effective, fast, and useful amateur stations could be in relaying messages nationwide, a RLA-initiated February 22, 1916 Washington’s birthday radio message relay across the United States was conducted.  The Doron’s station 8ZU was one of twenty-seven pre-selected primary receiving and sending stations that participated in the joint cooperation relay.

To avoid daytime interference the relay was conducted at night.  A written message from Colonel Nicholson of the U.S. Army’s Rock Island Arsenal was hand delivered to special amateur station 9XE in Davenport, Iowa one-half mile away.  Oddly the army arsenal did not have a wireless station! 

From 9XE in Davenport, Iowa the message was relayed east, west, north, and south, and was delivered to the Atlantic coast in 60 minutes, the Pacific coast in 55 minutes, and the Canadian and Mexican borders in 20 minutes.

The twenty-seven primary stations that were used for the “long jumps” in distance plus eleven additional pre-selected “checking stations” were predominantly Special Land Stations.  The “checking stations” received and sent the message after the primary stations had finished their transmissions.  

Many other stations participated as receiving stations only, and they were responsible to deliver the message to local city and state governments.  As the message was received by the various amateur stations it was delivered to 37 Governors, 137 heads of cities (Mayors, Town Commissioners, etc.) and the President of the United States.  The 1916 message that was transmitted in the relay stated:

"Q.S.T. Amateur Relay.  A democracy requires that a people who govern and educate themselves should be so armed and disciplined that they can protect themselves.

(Signed) Colonel Nicholson, U.S.A."

When the locations of the primary relay stations that were known to have participated in the relay are plotted on a map, the Doron’s station 8ZU was about midpoint in the southeast transmission route.                    

1) 8YL in Lima, OH most likely received the transmission from 9PC in Fort Wayne, IN, or 9YE in Chicago, or 9ZS in Springfield, IL and relayed it south to the Doron’s station 8ZU.


2) The Doron’s 8ZU in Hamilton; after receiving the message from either 8YL in Lima or 9ZS in Springfield, IL; most likely relayed the message east to John Stroebel’s 8ZW in Wheeling, WV.


3) Station 3DS in Washington, DC licensed to W.A. Parks received the message directly from John Stroebel’s 8ZW in Wheeling, WV and at 2:00 AM Mr. Parks mounted his motorcycle and hand delivered the message to President Woodrow Wilson’s bodyguard at the White House. 

Hence, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Doron’s Special Land Station 8ZU played a part in getting a very historic early wireless radio relay message to the President of the United States.

The complete story of the February 22, 1916 message relay as published in the ARRL's April 1916 QST Magazine is available here and here.

The complete story of the February 22, 1916 message relay as published in the Radio League of America Electrical Experimenter Magazine is available here.

The complete history story of the Doron Brothers Electrical Company amateur radio stations and broadcast station with two photograph files is available at and on the Butler County Amateur Radio Association's ("BCARA") website at



For persons who are interested in amateur radio operations, antique radio's from the 1920's, or the Doron's 1889 Victorian house with antiques and its original woodwork BCARA's amateur radio special event will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 from noon until 6 PM and the following weekend Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26 from noon until 6 PM weather permitting (call 513-894-0910 or 513-236-9402 if there is snow or ice).  The gathering area will be inside the Doron house (enter from the side porch up the driveway).

There will be antique radios from the 1920's on display, we will have an amateur radio information table, and you can ask club members questions about amateur radio.  If you would like to go into the 1915 station building of amateur station 8ZU and broadcast station WRK located in the backyard please observe a "quiet zone" while on-the-air operations are in progress.  We also intend to operate a second transmitter in the dining room where the Doron's broadcasted music from a phonograph.  If you are just interested in Victorian homes and antiques simply relax in the parlor, living room, or dining room and tour the house.  Soft drinks and snacks will be provided in the kitchen. 

Note for leaders of youth groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts: If any of your group (e.g. scouts) would like to try amateur radio and get-on-the-air to talk to an amateur radio "Ham" during the two weekends when the event is open to the public, FCC regulations allow such "third part communication" in the direct presence and supervision of one of our licensed amateur radio operators.  We will also print a "Guest Operator" certificate of contact similar to what licensed amateur radio operators around the world send each other to confirm contact.  If you would like a special arrangement for your group to visit during a weekday of the event, call 513-894-0910 or 513-236-9402 to make sure we have an operator available. 

The Doron house is a rare Victorian shingle-style house listed on the Ohio Historic Inventory that was built in 1889 by Joseph Doron who built several very prominent buildings in Hamilton including the Dorona Apartments and Verona Apartments both on High Street and both on the Ohio Historic Inventory. 

Directions: From I-75 go west on route 129 into downtown Hamilton (High Street) and cross the bridge over the Great Miami river.  When crossing the bridge stay to the right and the lane will curve onto Park Ave.  Go one block on Park. Ave. then turn right on North C Street.  329 North C Street is two blocks up the hill opposite a wooded area.

Parking: There is street parking on only one side of North C Street at the top of the hill.

Contacts for information (you will need JavaScript turned on to view any e-mail addresses below):

Event organizers: Butler County Amateur Radio Association ("BCARA") website

Doron Bros. Electrical Co. radio history and Doron family history webpages: special event forum thread for the event: special event forum thread for the event:,80434.0.html special event forum thread for the event:



Last edited on 02/26/2012 06:34 PM