On The Cover: March 2009

Tommy Tow, WD4K

On the Cover

This month's cover features Tommy Tow, WD4K, on his tower in Joelton, Tennessee, outside Nashville.  His stack of antennas includes Force 12 C31XRs at 35, 70 and 117 feet, a Force 12 Mag 340N at 100 feet, and a Force 12 80m rotatable dipole at 127 feet.  At the base of the tower is a custom-built switching system of Tommy's own design.  His shack is equipped with a full set of computers, Alpha amplifiers, a full audio rack, a computerized switching system which he built, and a unit from Top Ten Devices to run the switching network.

Tommy is a founding member of the Tennessee Contest Group (TCG) and used to be a serious contester. He particularly enjoyed having ham buddies join him at his home QTH for contests -- he says friends like Don Binkley, N4ZZ; Scott Robbins, W4PA, and Mark Speck, K0EJ, all had good contest runs at his station. These days, he operates more casually as his family and his business have taken up more of his time.  Tommy says he gets the most enjoyment from what he called "going back to basics" – "just getting on the air and talking to somebody you’d never talked to before," and chasing DX.

Tommy also spent many years as a touring and studio musician, and playing bass guitar with some of the biggest artists in music, including James Brown, B.B. King, Chet Atkins, Jimmy Maphis and Sammy Davis Jr.  He played on the Dolly Parton Show and in Bob Hope's USO shows, and estimates that he was on television for 15 years. He was on the road from 1966 until 1980.  Last December, Tommy and Waldo Weathers, James Brown's saxophone player, assembled a twelve-piece funk band for a show at B.B. King's in Nashville. A good alternative when there's no action on the ham bands! (Cover photo by Larry Mulvehill, WB2ZPI; On the Cover text by Dan Moseson, KC2OOM)

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