The Short History of Illinois Bell (QT) and the Pioneer ARC

by Bob Marcheschi / WF9V, and Dave Alm / WG9J

Ham Shack

The Pioneer Amateur Radio Club was started mid-1966 by several Hams who petitioned the Vail Council of the Pioneers for permission to form a club using the Pioneer name. Permission was granted and by-laws were published in late 1966.

Club members managed to get space in what was then the new Illinois Bell Headquarters building at 225 W. Randolph Street, in downtown Chicago. They also got permission to place antennas on the roof, and had a conduit run for coax from the roof to the clubroom. Two HF booths were inside the clubroom and rigs were obtained for members use during lunchtime and after hours. Several members worked the Pioneer QSO parties and CQ WE from this site using the club call of WA9PAC (Pioneer Amateur Club).

In September of 1971, the Pioneer club participated in the formation of the “Bell System Amateur Co-coordinating Council,” with representatives of five other local Bell Companies: Hawthorne Works ARC, Rolling Meadows (W.E.) ARC, Montgomery (W.E.) ARC, Indian Hills (Bell Labs) ARC and Teletype ARC. Additional information isn’t available as to what ever happened to the Council or what it managed to accomplish.

QSL Card
Pioneer ARC QSL Card

Many members left the company with the various retirement offers, and some new members were obtained by offering a lunchtime Novice class. The club stayed fairly active even through divestiture, but with the several reorganizations under Ameritech, SBC, and finally AT&T, the club is down to a few old retirees and one member is still employed. Several still participate in the Pioneer and CQ WE contests when possible. Through all the turmoil, the club has continued to keep a 70cm repeater on the air with the club call, WA9PAC, which has been moved from the downtown area to the south suburbs.

A big thank you to Russ, N9AGW, who managed to obtain old notes and other papers from storage so this synopsis could be created.