A Conversation with Author Nick Tusa
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Many people consider the post-war 1950s as the golden years of Amateur Radio and for good reason: The War’s unprecedented and highly accelerated progress in electronics and wireless communications found a ready audience of business and industrial buyers in the post-war years, fueled by a flood of young men brimming with ideas and dreams of new products to make society a better place.
Wesley R. Schum (W9DYV-SK) was one of those young men. Born in Chicago in 1921, his interest in Radio began well before high school, having taken root in 1932. He later made his mark during the war years by heading an engineering team for a manufacturing company supplying important electronic devices serving both the US Army and Navy. Soon after V-J Day in 1945, Schum was drafted into the US Army – to become a prisoner interrogator and spy, destined for Korea.
By January 1947, Schum’s war was over and a new career path – one that provided equipment to help impaired children hear sounds and learn important language skills – had begun. Schum’s best-known work, though, circles back to his life-long attraction to Amateur Radio by bringing a then-new form of radio communications to ham radio enthusiasts: Single-Sideband. Schum threw his all into making this new technology affordable and readily understood in amateur radio circles. His Central Electronics basement startup grew rapidly in the early 1950s and ultimately became a subsidiary of the important Zenith Radio Corporation.
I first corresponded with Schum as a high schooler, eager to understand then nearly forgotten phasing principal for generating and receiving single sideband signals. Thus, was born a friendship that gradually turned into a life-changing professional mentorship that grew stronger over 45 years.
This new book, Wes Schum – Amateur Radio’s Unsung Hero, explores the life and times of one of our hobby’s most important technical contributors – a man that had been mostly forgotten once Zenith Radio shuttered its first entry into the Amateur Radio market and closed the door on its remarkable, highly advanced products. As you read the book, my hope is you’ll find Wes to be an engaging character -- one that embodies the true American entrepreneurial spirit. And, if you are young person as I was when first hearing of W9DYV, perhaps you’ll gain some measure of confidence to pursue dreams, learn from ‘unintended results’ (some uninformed folks might term those as failures) and continue on with dogged determination to succeed. He did, I did and so can you!