CQ cartoon, May 2023

CQ Amateur Radio Magazine, May 2023 issue

This week, I’ll be headed to Dayton, Ohio — actually, Xenia, a little bit to the southeast — for the annual Dayton Hamvention, billed as the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio operators, or “hams.”

(My show this Saturday will be produced and broadcast from Hamvention, and I’ll be talking to some people at the convention. However, this week’s show will only be on Tube City Online Radio, because WRCT will be off the air due to a scheduled power outage on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. Plan your Saturday afternoon accordingly, ha ha.)

A lot of people think that “amateur radio” is what I do on Saturdays, but “ham radio” is not broadcasting — it’s transmitting messages from point-to-point, or from one person (or group of people) to another.

In fact, there are special frequencies set aside for amateur radio, and a license is required to use them. People with an amateur radio license are specifically prohibited from using those frequencies for “broadcasting” to the general public. (There’s nothing to stop you from listening to those transmissions, of course, but the person sending messages on those frequencies is not supposed to be sending them primarily for amusement or entertainment.)

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CQ cartoon, April 2023

Cartoon from the April 2023 issue of CQ Amateur Radio Magazine

(As always, a reminder that these cartoons are posted after they’ve appeared in CQ Amateur Radio Magazine. Why not subscribe today?)

This is true: Remember the freak-out a few months ago when a Chinese “spy balloon” was observed crossing into U.S. airspace, and Republicans and Fox News (but I repeat myself) lost their ever-loving minds, demanding that Sleepy Joe Biden do something and the military was ordered to shoot down any more “spy balloons”?

Well, at least one of the “spy balloons” shot down by the U.S. military in February was apparently an observation balloon launched by a ham radio club.

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CQ cartoon, March 2023

Probably everyone who’s ever been married or in a long-term relationship knows the most perilous question you can answer is, “What are you doing right now?” closely followed by, “How do I look?” and “What should we have for dinner tonight?”

(And in all fairness, I’ve done it to my wife more than once, and she’s then found herself dragged to some ham radio or record collector event.)

Sunday afternoons are made for listening to the radio, reading, and napping. (Is there a better nap during the week than the one after church and a big breakfast?)

Cartoons are posted after they have already appeared in the magazine in print and digital form. To see the cartoons when they’re new, why not subscribe?

These cartoons are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. To get permission to use a cartoon in a non-profit club newsletter or other format, email jaythurbershow@gmail.com.

CQ cartoon, Feb. 2023

CQ Amateur Radio Magazine, Feb. 2023

From time to time, for my monthly cartoons in CQ Amateur Radio Magazine, I draw a “dubious moment in radio history.” It’s almost always based on some actual momentous occasion, but with a dumb anachronistic punchline.

For instance, in 2012, a Georgetown law student testified to Congress in favor of legal access to birth control. Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Dozens of sponsors pulled their advertising from his show.

I quickly drew a cartoon for CQ‘s then-sister publication, Popular Communications, which depicted legendary old-time radio announcer Graham McNamee getting in trouble in the 1930s for referring to a woman who wore trousers as a “harlot”:

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Like it so much, I’ll doodle some more

(Optional soundtrack for this post.)

I suppose the fact that my real name isn’t “Jay Thurber” isn’t a surprise to a lot of folks. I picked the DJ name more than 20 years ago as a tribute to my favorite writer and cartoonist, and it just kind of “stuck.” But I use my real name everywhere else (including the talk show I produce for WEDO and WZUM), and on the cartoons I draw each month for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine.

I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and took some summer art classes in high school, but I’m more or less untrained, and it sometimes shows. I didn’t learn how to use a lightbox until very recently, and I stuck to an old-fashioned metal pin and inkwell for much too long. I still haven’t learned to use a digital tablet and stylus.

I did editorial cartoons for the college paper, as well as a weekly comic strip, but after graduation, I more or less went back into the art closet, so to speak, for about 10 years, rarely drawing anything. (For a short time in the 2000s, I was freelancing editorial cartoons for a small chain of weekly papers in New England, but the editor who was buying them had … shall we say … a difference of opinion with the owners, so that ended that.)

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CQ cartoon, Jan. 2022

Cartoon as it ran

Like a lot of the “Spurious Signals” cartoons, this is based in fact. I did go back to Season 1, Episode 1 of “M*A*S*H” and start watching the show all the way through, and I did try to figure out if Radar’s radio was a real piece of military equipment or just a mock-up built by a studio prop expert.

The debate still isn’t settled. Some folks in online discussions have argued that Radar’s using a 1960s vintage U.S. Navy radio called a “T.E.D.,” but in my opinion, it doesn’t match the photos of those radios, as far as I can tell. I suspect it was just a prop made up to look like 1950s vintage Army equipment.

This is one of the rare occasions when my editor, Rich W2VU, suggested some changes; he felt the wording in the second panel was a bit clunky.

Rejected version

CQ cartoon, Dec. 2021

Another cartoon somewhat based in reality. Ever since I was a kid, I did want a Zenith Trans-Oceanic portable radio, but they went out of production when I was very small. By the time I got interested in radio, the remaining Trans-Oceanics were becoming rare and very collectible. Even scruffy examples were selling for hundreds of dollars.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started looking for one on eBay that I could afford — maybe a fixer-upper. I took a chance on a radio advertised “for parts, not working” for less than $50. To my astonishment, after a thorough disassembly and cleaning, it turned right on and performed beautifully.

So I didn’t get one from Santa Claus, and it wasn’t free, but it was the next-best thing.

You can see it in this photo from Facebook.