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Top-Band Stalwart Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, SK


A fixture on 160 meters, Herb Schoenbohm, KV4FZ, of Christiansted, Virgin Islands, died on April 29. An ARRL member, he was 84. Licensed in 1954 as W0VXO, Schoenbohm became KV4FZ after relocating to the US Virgin Islands in 1968 to further his career as a sales representative for broadcast equipment manufacturers on the international market, primarily in Latin America.

A regular participant in 160-meter contests, Schoenbohm — especially during his early years in the Virgin Islands — provided many DXers with a new DXCC entity, as that band opened up to routine operation in the wake of government restrictions to protect the LORAN navigation system in that region of the spectrum. Schoenbohm was among the first Top Band operators to earn DXCC on 160, and his signal frequently served as a beacon from the Caribbean during contests. He was also active in emergency communications and earned praise for his efforts during hurricane disasters affecting the Virgin Islands, receiving a Governor’s Medal in 1990 for supporting communication after Hurricane Hugo.

Schoenbohm ran afoul of the FCC in 1994, when the Commission designated his license renewal application for a hearing following a 1992 felony conviction on federal fraud charges. The FCC subsequently denied his renewal in 1998, the US Appeals Court upheld the decision in 2000, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case later that same year.

Schoenbohm applied for a new license in 2001, and the FCC designated that application for a hearing on the basis of character issues stemming from his 1992 conviction as well as an alleged lack of candor during subsequent FCC hearings on the matter. In 2002, an FCC Administrative Law Judge cleared the way for Schoenbohm’s return to ham radio, declaring him qualified to once again become a licensee.

Schoenbohm was active in Republican Party politics, representing the US Virgin Islands at the Republican National Convention from 1980 until 2012, and serving as a member of the Platform Committee in 2008 and 2012.

He retired following a 30-year career working for the government of the US Virgin Islands.