Amateur Radio N4KC -- Don Keith

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Now more than fifty years in amateur radio and still going strong...

N4KC amateur radio QSL card

I was first licensed as an amateur radio operator in 1961 at the age of 13 as WN4BDW...later WA4BDW, and recently celebrated my 50th year in the hobby. I changed my call sign to N4KC in the 1970s when I got my Extra Class license. I enjoyed a 22-year career in broadcasting and was twice named BILLBOARD magazine's "Broadcast Personality of the Year." I later worked for a company that developed software for radio, TV and ad agencies, then spent 4 years with Arbitron, the company that provides audience rating information for radio broadcasters. In May 2012, I retired as vice-president of advertising and marketing communications for Education Corporation of America (  We own and operate Virginia College (, Golf Academy of America (, New England College of Business and Finance (, and Ecotech Institute (  The company is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. I'm also an author with over thirty books published.


Don Keith N4KC


My QTH is Indian Springs Village, Alabama, a small town in Shelby County, near Birmingham. I enjoy working digital modes, SSB and CW on HF as well as two-meter FM and SSB. The rig is a Kenwood TS-590S in the shack for 160 through 6 and I add an Ameritron 811 linear amplifier when I need a few dB of extra oomph.  I also have a Yaesu FT-857D in the car and as the key part of my "go station," which also includes an MFJ 25-amp switching 12-volt power supply and a Transworld Backpacker quick-setup antenna. I have a Comet antenna on the truck for 2 and 6 meters with "stingers" for 10, 15, 17, 20 and 40 meters. 


I like fooling around with antennas. I recently wrote an article for newcomers on what I believe are the top five antennas to get on the air quickly with a respectable setup.  Read that article HERE.  Typically I use one of five HF antennas, depending on which one gives me the best signal for conditions and distance:


1) a G5RV, the shortened ZS6BKW version, up at about 35 feet, (Purchased from The Wireman because it was actually cheaper that way rather than buying separately the wire, insulators, his unique center insulator, and window line.)


2) a ground-mounted Hustler 4-BTV vertical with 85 radials strung out beneath it, each about 40 feet long,


3) a 450-foot skywire horizontal loop, fed with 450-ohm window line and hung in a rough circle, ranging from 15 feet to 45 feet above ground, and tuned with an MFJ-998 automatic memory tuner. Read more about my construction of this antenna HERE. (Yes, it should be more like 560 feet to be resonant on 160 meters, but I ran out of wire and space at about the same time!)


4) a 135-foot dipole strung along between a couple of trees and fed with 450-ohm window line through a DX Engineering 1:1 current balun.  It averages about 50 feet off the ground.  This antenna tunes with the MFJ-998 just fine from 80 to 10 meters and is a spectacular antenna on 30 meters.  Read HERE why I am such an advocate of feeding multi-band antennas with open wire feedlines.  Or ladder or window line.


5) a 5-band, broad-banded-design homebrew hexbeam, sold by K4KIO, mounted at 40 feet (12 meters) above ground on a Rohn 20 tower.  (I originally homebrewed this antenna based on K4KIO's excellent instructions, but I decided I needed something more solidly constructed so I purchased the antenna from Leo.)  Read more about this remarkable antenna HERE.


N4KC hexbeam

My K4KIO hexbeam on a Rohn 20 tower amid the trees.


On VHF/UHF I use a B-Square Engineering j-pole for 2 meters/70 centimeters and the hexbeam for 6 meters.  I hope to meet you on the airwaves soon!


My personal and professional web site is You may email me at I use Logbook of the World, also upload regularly to eQSL, and also respond to QSL requests the old-fashioned way as well.

I am available for speaking appearances and can do compelling programs on a wide range of topics, including submarines, World War II history, amateur radio, leadership, broadcasting, education, and more.  I do have Skype capability.  Contact me if you are interested in my speaking to your group.


40 Red Stick Road, Indian Springs Village, Alabama 35124 -- Shelby County -- Grid: EM63oh
Co-ordinates: 33.315662 N / 86.807244 W