W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 6.2


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Obtaining a Club Station License Grant

For a

School Radio Club

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. Our club is in discussion with the principal of a nearby high school. We are offering to donate radio apparatus to the school for a club station to be housed in a school building. My question concerns licensing of the station at the school if the deal goes through. Would a new club, with a new club station license, have to be formed at the school, or could our club members and other licensees use the apparatus at the school under our existing club station license and call sign?

A. Those are but two of the three possible options as far as the FCC rules are concerned. In either case, Section 97.7 applies: When transmitting, each amateur station must have a control operator. The control operator must be a person: (a) For whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears on the ULS consolidated licensee database, or (b) Who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation by Section 97.107 of this part (Part 97).

Q. What is the third option?

A. You do not need a Section 97.5(b)(2) club station license to satisfy any regulatory purpose, so just do not apply for one. It carries no operating privileges; those depend entirely upon the class of license held by the on duty designated Section 97.105 control operator. When transmitting from a place where the FCC is our regulator, an amateur station must have a Section 97.105 control operator at its Section 97.3(a)(14) control point. That control operator must have a Section 97.5(b)(1) primary station/operator license grant or be authorized for Section 97.107 reciprocal operation. The control operator’s Section 97.5(b)(1) primary station has already been assigned a call sign to transmit in the Section 97.119 station identification announcements.

   Such designated Section 97.105 control operators could cause or allow the station to transmit from the school parking lot, the stadium, and the gymnasium - or from anywhere else they have access to school property – with handheld or mobile transceivers, a temporarily installed station, a permanent station, or whatever. The enormity, configuration, location, accommodations, and arrangement of these stations are matters to be resolved with the appropriate school authority. For instance, one radio club, obviously with school approval, installs and removes an impressive multi-multi field day station on school grounds each June for JUST one weekend.

Q. Does a school radio club have to get a club station license grant?

A. No. There is nothing the amateur operator members can do over that which they are already authorized to do with their own Section 97.5(b)(1) operator/primary station license grant. Operating privileges are authorized only by an amateur operator license grant. Every FCC-licensed amateur operator has a primary station license grant; it is granted together with the amateur operator license. One - but only one – Section 97.5(b)(1) operator/primary station license grant may be held by any one person.

Q. Do I understand that the only reason to obtain a club station license is so that that already licensed hams can use the same call sign while using the school station?

A. Correct. Their motivation for doing so is not something that is regulated.

Q. I am the license trustee for our radio club. If we should reach an agreement with the school principal to proceed with a yet-to-be-formed school club using our existing club station license, who would be the club station license trustee?

A. You - as the license trustee of record for that Section 97.5(b)(2) club station license - would be the person also responsible for the proper operation of the station located at the school. The club, however, could decide to apply for its own unique club station call sign.

Q. Who selects the club station license trustee?

A. The Section 97.5(b)(2) club station license trustee is selected by the club in accordance with its own procedures for doing such, hopefully codified in the club’s document of organization. The appropriate officer of the club then certifies on the application form for a club station license the name of that person.

Q. I am volunteering at our local high school where a teacher wants to obtain a club station license for the school radio club. The prospective trustee-teacher is a Technician Class op and I am an Amateur Extra Class op. If the teacher becomes the trustee for the license, can the school club call sign be used in the Amateur Extra class bands while I am the control operator without adding my call sign in the station ID announcement?

A. No. That would really confuse our maintenance monitors; the ULS would show the presumptive Section 97.105 control operator of the amateur station transmitting on exclusive Amateur Extra Class operator channels holding an operator license grant not authorized for that segment of the band. Either the teacher-trustee should upgrade to Amateur Extra Class or you should send your primary station call sign in the Section 97.119 station identification announcements

   Here’s your other option: When the operator license class held by the Section 97.105 control operator (you) exceeds that of the Section 97.103 station licensee (the trustee), an indicator consisting of the call sign assigned to the Section 97.105 control operator's station (yours) must be included after the call sign.

Q. Who can operate our club station?

A. That is up to your Section 97.5(b)(2) club station license trustee, who must designate the Section 97.105 control operator. The FCC will presume that the club station licensee trustee is also the Section 97.105 control operator, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station records. 

Q. Only students and teachers already having a ham license are supposed to operate the school club ham station. True or false?

A. True.

Q. Can a teacher having a ham license operate the school radio station while on pay status?

A. Yes. Ordinarily, no FCC-licensed amateur station is supposed to transmit communications for hire or for material compensation, direct or indirect, paid or promised. But Section 97.113(a)(3)(ii) says: A control operator may accept compensation as an incident of a teaching position during periods of time when an amateur station is used by that teacher as a part of classroom instruction at an educational institution. By accepting compensation, however, the teacher foregoes doing so, the teacher would forgo status as a Section 97.3(a)(4) amateur.

Q. Does the trustee-designating club officer have to be a ham?

A. No. The only club member that must hold a Section 97.5(b)(1) operator/primary station license grant is the Section 97.5(b)(2) club station license trustee. One family member who holds a Section 97.5(b)(1) operator/primary station license grant, for instance, can enroll his non-ham siblings or parents into the club to round out the four-person minimum membership requirement. Unlike the number of possible amateur operators, which is bounded finitely by our World’s total population, the numerical possibility for club stations is unlimited.

Q. Would we have to assemble another station just for the new club station call sign?

A. No. There is no requirement that an amateur station must actually physically exist just because of holding an amateur station license grant.     

Q. Who are the club station call sign administrators?

A. For the current listings, visit Licensing Club Stations on the FCC web site. 

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April 5, 2017

Supersedes all prior editions