We talked about Gene Martin recently. He was the one who brought old-fashioned music to the people of Beautiful Marion County. He was very successful and a popular radio show that went from station to station several times, if I remember correctly.

Jeff Borger, Ocala, wrote: “Enjoy your column! I am a longtime friend of Gene Martin and he is currently retired and living in North Carolina. Thanks for mentioning the low power FM station WEFA a bit and the fact that they carry Gene’s Sunday Swing show.

After:Emory Schley: Have you checked the calendar lately?

After:Emory Schley: What is the “greatest hobby in the world”?

“Your readers might like to know that Ocala has several low-power FM stations. We are all non-profit and community-run. I run Christian radio station WRGE, 97.9 on the FM dial, a LPFM station serving East Ocala and the Silver Springs area.We currently feature Christmas music from many of the artists that Gene used to feature on his schedule: people like Mitch Miller, Jo Stafford, Perry Como, Bing Crosby , Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Doris Day and Percy Faith Christmas carols are so heartwarming at this time of year and this year we need them more than ever.

PHONE FIXES: We also talked a bit about amateur radio, more commonly known as amateur radio. Charlie Tichy, On Top of the World wrote: “Dear Sly Guy, I want to share my experience with Amateur Radio Operators. I was in a Navy Seabee Battalion stationed at the South Pole in 1966-1967. The only communication we had with the outside world, other than regular mail which could take up to a month to be received, was through what we called a Ham Patch Our Ham operator would contact a Ham operator in the United States and that operator would connect us from a our families’ home phones somehow, when we were talking to our families, for example, we would say “Hi mum, yours” and she would respond by saying “I’m fine, yours” and the conversation would continue saying “yours” every time. We were done talking. I don’t know how they could do this, but we were so grateful to hear the voices of our families.

Well, Charlie, as a ham operator for about 40 years now, I can tell you it was all done by smoke, mirrors and a healthy dose of magic!

In fact, a telephone patch simply couples the landline telephone system with radio transmissions, allowing cross communication. Radio transmissions, in this case, are simplex, which means that radio signals only travel in one direction at a time. A landline phone is duplex, which means that the beeps can come and go simultaneously on the same line.

The “Over” prompt simply signals the hobbyist operator running the interface to switch their rig from receive to transmit or vice-versa as needed. It sounds a bit complicated, but it’s really quite simple once you understand what’s really going on.

By the way, did you know that one of the main phone patching systems in all of the United States is located right here in Ocala? Run by the Silver Springs Radio Club and local MARS affiliate, it was affectionately nicknamed “Bigfoot” by thousands of war-weary soldiers during the Korean conflict and later the Vietnam War. Bigfoot’s legendary, massive rhombic antennae could send signals through the atmosphere with an efficiency that defied belief!

COUNTRY KING: I was at Rural King last Saturday, hanging around the Gun Barn when a young woman with her mate smiled and said something to me that I didn’t quite understand. I smiled back, then realized she couldn’t tell I was smiling because, unlike her, I was wearing a mask. I then said to him “When I smile at people, I feel like I’m wasting my time when I realize that this mask prevents them from knowing what I’m doing.” We shared a chuckle over that remark, but it’s true, with a mask on, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to know what you’re doing with your lips. You could stick your tongue out at them for anything they know.

I’ll be happy when we don’t have to wear that stupid stuff anymore!

Another customer was queuing and waiting his turn. We talked for a few minutes and it turns out he’s from Hialeah, and we both graduated from Hialeah High School, although he was a few years behind me.

I always find it amazing how many Dade County refugees I meet here in beautiful Marion County!

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