William D. Ricker, N1VUX "Bill"
The following is now of historic interest only ... it's commentary from several years -- fall 1996? -- before FCC Restructuring which gave us something even more radical than the WOG, which was considered pretty radical back when. The following Usenet News article was posted to the EMA ARRL webpage by then-SM K9HI as a Guest Editorial; I mirrored it here.
[wdr-n1vux 2000-08-01]

Guest Editorial: In support of Len Winkler's WOG Exam


Len Winkler KB7LPWI, host of Ham Radio and More, has proposed a "Written only General" ("WOG").

Under this option, a Novice or Technician-Plus could attain a General license either via the current 13wpm+Written-3B or via his new written-only exam, 3AB+4+5. Put plainly, this say passing 5wpm plus all the theory&regulation exams for General, Advanced and Extra would be as good as 15wpm.

Some on the internet have supported this, and not just no-coders: One fellow responeded:

> Nope. This coder is for it as well. It is a reasonable compromise
> as it stands, without modification.
> OK no coders. let's hear from you as well.

My Comment

(The following is excerpted from article already expired here in the ham radio Policy Newsgroup rec.radio.amateur.policy and edited for republication.)

I think it's a great interim idea. It has the great advantages of common sense and minimal effort to implement.

The ARRL should jump behind it as perhaps the only means means to simultaneously "attract the new Technicians" and to "serve the core membership". (Quotes from an ARRL Branch manager alluding to the strategic plan.) Failure to do so will indicate their true priorities all too clearly.

Personal interest

If I thought he could get it through over the winter, it'd change what speed of code I'd spend the winter learning. If I could get General privileges with 5wpm+G+A+Extra-Theory, that'd be fine. I want to be able to send & receive 5wpm anyway. Since I fear the ARRL will oppose, I'd better try to learn 20wpm and pass 13wpm.

Privileges should be earned

I agree with the proud-coders that the HF licenses should be something earned and something to be proud of.

I don't want to be given HF privileges, I want to earn them by demonstrating technical proficiency, as required by Federal Law (and one of the ITU/WARC clauses). Unfortunately, I apparently do not need to demonstrate any kind of proficiency except memorizing the code and memorizing a disturbingly small pool of questions (all of which have only 2 plausible answers out of 4 options). I don't think 13wpm + the current General exam is sufficient to meet either federal law or the treaty requirement for technical proficiency.

Winkler's proposal would allow me to earn HF privileges in a way which would be recognizable to the O.B.s (although some will complain that the current Advanced and Extra exams are easier than theirs were; they're probably right, and I'd agree with 'em -- I think I'd like to study the old manuals sometime!) and is recognizable to me as demonstrating something worthwhile.

Long-term Exam Reform still needed

I hope the Advanced question pool is rougher than the extrapolation from N-T-G pools would predict. If it isn't, we need tougher tests when the pools come around for revision anyway. The General pool feels like the only difference between a Tech-Plus and a General is 5wpm v. 13wpm. Although it is truely easier to Learn than to memorize, but these pools are memorizable. The old 2nd Class question pool (back when it was essay-answer at FCC) was tough ... the cram book for that makes for good backgroundreading, unlike the current pools.

I came too darn close to passing the General exam after reading the Technician cram book, without any background in RF (or AC/AF) electronics. That's pitiful.

(An otherwise-unrestricted VHF+ license should something to be proud of too; when the Technician question pool expires, it should be replaced with a tougher one. I'm not comfortable operating with as little knowledge as I am required to have: I'm licensed for 6m, which is to say to create adjacent channel interference for TV Channel 2, that's as heavy a burden as sharing allocation with Radio Moscow on 40m! I for one wouldn't mind re-taking the exam when it's stiffened if I haven't upgraded, but I do not expect it; that'd be in the spirit of the old Novice 1 year up or out rule. Frankly, the new Tech is about as tough as the old Novice, without the up-or-out and without the narrow band & power limits, just limited to sub-continental propagation (except for EME!). That's not good regulation. Maybe a VHF+ Novice with a tough theory exam to renew to VHF-Tech would work.)


I should have to work for it. Winkler's WOG (Written-Only General) would make me work - I hear Advanced is a tough exam in theory not just regs, I hope that is true - and work at something I will value.

The key advantages of the WOG are

  1. that it is easy to implement:
  2. it addresses the problem of a short-term upgrade path to bring Novices, New Techs and Tech-Pluses into the mainstream of the hobby, HF.

Only temporarily certified code-free,
73 de N1VUX BILL

Who'll probably become a member of the ARRL tonight, if I find a form at the club meeting. Revolution from within!
( I did, although it was difficult finding the right form, even at an ARRL affiliate.)


Winkler's Response to my comment

Len responded to my (and previous) comments in the newsgroup
I just want to thank those that have favored my proposal of "WOG" and those who have spoken against it. It is amazing to me how many "higher" class license holders there are that support WOG completely! However, hams have been slow to send in their QSL cards or post cards in support and that's what I need if WOG is going to become a reality. I need thousands, yes thousands of cards showing YOU want the WOG to be enacted. I've received about 110 cards so far as lots of e'mail, but I really need more cards.
So, if you favor WOG, tell your friends, club, etc., that a major effort is underway to make a change, a logical change, and cards are needed. Mail them to

P.O. Box 9219
Phoenix, AZ

Thank you & 73,
Len, KB7LPW lenwink@indirect.com (Len Winkler)

Comments may go to
Len KB7LPW, whose Idea it was.
Phil K9HI EMA SM, who loaned me this pulpit.
me, Bill N1VUX, guest editorialist, responsible for all non-quotation content (and selection of even that).
Or chain to the newsgroup articles and post there!