“Elmer” Inspiration, Elmer “Bud” Frohardt Jr, W9DY, SK


The ham radio mentor who inspired the term “Elmer” — Elmer P. “Bud” Frohardt Jr, W9DY (ex-W9GFF), of Madison, Wisconsin — died on March 22. He was 93. A friend and co-worker of the late Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (later VA3ZBB), who edited QST’s “How’s DX?” column, Frohardt was the “Elmer” that Newkirk had in mind when he used the name in his March 1971 column, referring to someone who helped to mentor new Amateur Radio licensees and calling them “the unsung fathers of Amateur Radio.”

“Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: ‘Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest,’” Newkirk had written. “We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh.”

On AC6V’s “Origin of Ham Speak” web page, John Becker, K9MM, is quoted as saying, “Bud was very well known locally for his involvement with the RAMS (Radio Amateur Megacycle Society) radio club, and he was always helping newcomers to the hobby.”

An ARRL Life Member, Frohardt, who preferred to be called “Bud,” had worked as a communications technician for the Illinois State Police, retiring in 1986. Licensed in the 1930s, he was a veteran DXer, eventually working all 381 countries at that time from his former home in Chicago. When he moved into an antenna-restricted neighborhood in the 1990s, he enthusiastically began chasing DX from his car, racking up 326 entities while operating from the back seat. He also was active in the annual Illinois QSO Party, which he managed at one point.

“Am most proud of all the wonderful young people I have been able to interest over the years in science, radio, DX, CW, and electronics,” Frohardt wrote on his page. “Many of them have become excellent operators, engineers, scientists, doctors or business people.” — Thanks to The Daily DX