Long Beach : Queen Mary, Ham Officials to Discuss Radio Station

Local amateur radio operators plan to meet with Queen Mary officials next week to discuss disagreements that resulted in this week's voluntary closure of a radio room that had operated continuously on the ship for 10 years. "I'm sure that everything will be ironed out," said Nate Brightman, manager of the station and a member of Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, which operates it.

According to Brightman, the ham radio station ceased operating Tuesday after the ship's managers urged club members to spend more time talking to shipboard tourists about amateur radio. While the club has no objection to talking to tourists and does so regularly, Brightman said, the discussion led to a "misunderstanding" about the station's autonomy, which he said is required by FCC regulations.

"We're licensed as an amateur radio station," Brightman said. "If we don't operate autonomously, it will be an exhibit which (the ship) controls and (the ship) is a commercial venture. We could lose our license."

The Queen Mary was recently acquired by a subsidiary of the Disney Development Corp., which is considering developing the site into a $1 billion marine oriented theme park.

"We are now in accord with how the station should operate," said Brightman, predicting that the station--which is well known to amateur radio enthusiasts throughout the world--could be back on the air as early as next week.

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