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Saturday
Feb042012

Hap Holly - KC9RP

Special Projects

Hap Holly, KC9RP, founder, guiding light and moderator of the weekly amateur radio audio feature magazine known as RAIN - the Radio Amateur Information Network. From his home studio/ham shack in suburban Chicago, Hap produces his 12 to 17 minute weekly amateur radio program service, featuring timely interviews, thought-provoking commentaries from other hams, excerpts from Dayton Hamvention Forums and other items ofgeneral interest to the amateur community at large. Ham radio istraditionally an aural - as opposed to a visual - medium; we meet and recognize fellow hams primarily by voice, seldom seeing them in person. RAIN programming is also an aural medium, distributed to hundreds of repeaters across the country via the RAIN dial-up line, commercial satellite,(discontinued) Hap's subscription service on audio tape and on WA0RCR's weekly 160 meter informational broadcasts. Those repeater groups and others then replay the weekly RAIN tapes over their local repeater systems on their regular "net night" gatherings, permitting thousands of hams to hear Hap's offerings for that particular week. It's all done with volunteer help and - in the best of amateur traditions - without profit to anyone involved. Hap Holly makes it happen; he's an uncommonly intelligent and outgoing individual. Hap is also very aurally oriented and insists on quality in every way in his RAIN programming. He conducts most of the interviews, edits and engineers all of the program material, writes the scripts, duplicates and mails out the RAIN cassettes and archives and catalogs the RAIN library. It's all accomplished by touch and by ear...Hap is one of a number of non-sighted amateurs within our ranks, but you'd never know it. For Hap, blindness happened literally overnight...when he was only 7. Problems with his vision began when he was 4, but then he awoke one morning totally blind. The condition is untreatable, at least within current medical terms, but to Hap, it hasn't been a handicap. In fact, in talking to him over the years, most of his friends tend to forget his unusual challenges, because he does so much of what we all do, without mention of his visual impairment. Both of Hap's parents were blind, his father's resulting from a football accident in college and his mother's when she was around the age of 12. His father, nonetheless, was a successful building contractor and architect, formulating the plans he devised within his "mind's eye", then describing the details precisely to his secretary, who constructed balsa wood models. Then only by touch, Hap's dad would go over the "3-dimensional plans", incorporating additions or changes as needed. Hap's father was also a long time columnist for the Christian Science Monitor and was known world-wide for his "Ask a Builder" column, which he wrote from 1965 until his passing in 1984. He was a touch typist - as is Hap - and was able to generate his column by that method alone (before the days of computers, word processors and voice synthesizers). In 1988, a 420-page book was written about Hap's mother, depicting her struggle for independence from her New England industrialist father, her marriage to Hap's dad and the eventual challenges that two sightless parents encountered raising four sighted children - then Hap too became blind. That book, entitled "What Love Sees" and is being made into a made-for-TV movie this year, which will be shown on the CBS television network when completed.It will star Richard Thomas of the original "Walton's" series and Anna Beth Gish who played Pat Nixon in the widely acclaimed motion picture "Nixon" which also starred Anthony Hopkins. The TV movie, which is also entitled "What Love Sees", primarily takes place in the small southern California ranching town of Ramona (where much of it will be filmed) and reportedly will follow the Holly household up until shortly after the time that Hap's sight was lost, and the family was forced to move to a larger city - Escondido - to seek specialized educational opportunities for their youngest son. Be sure to watch for it this fall on television.( The movie aired in Sept., 1996 and again in June, 1999 on CBS; Lifetime aired it in Sept., 1999.) Hap's ham career began when he earned his Novice ticket in 1965, at the age of 14, receiving the call sign WN6UJH, while living in Escondido. He became a General - dropping the "N" in his call - a year later in 1966 and served as a phone-patch station and net control for the Westcars traffic net until 1970. Hap then headed off to Principia College in Elsah, Illinois and from 1970 to graduation in 1974, ran phone patches and kept radio schedules for his fellow students. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, and soon found himself in the Chicago area, where he sought out world-class jazz accordionist Leon Sash, to pursue his other love, music. A year later, another love, Stephanie, became the center of Hap's attention and the two were married in August of 1976 after meeting the previous summer at the Roundup Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado, where Hap was a counselor. Hap taught a class in non-visual perception to the high school campers at the ranch, all of whom were sighted, but who learned to "see" in yet another way ...with Hap's patient guidance. Hap's wife, Stephanie - who is also sighted - received her ham ticket in 1986 and the call KA9WKD, after realizing how much ham radio, and the good it was able to accomplish, meant to Hap. In 1977, Hap picked up the "9-land" call of WD9GJQ and he and Stephanie moved into their comfortable home in Des Plaines, Illinois where he resumed his phone-patching and DXing activities with his now permanent antenna and station set-up. In 1981, Hap passed his Advanced class license exam and changed calls once more, this time to his current KC9RP call sign. Hap served as ham radio informational programming guru for the BEAR, the Broadcast Employees Amateur Repeater in suburban Chicago, from 1984 to 1989. Hap's weekly "net nights" became something of a legend in the Chicago area, sometimes attracting in excess of 100 check-ins, via simulcasts on five area repeaters. This stint led to Hap's forming RAIN - the Radio Amateur Information Network - and the weekly RAINReport dial-up, and the bi-monthly RAIN Journal tape (produced especially for the blind amateur). According to Hap, "My inspiration for producing weekly ham radio programming resulted from my 'need to know' . I faithfully listened to the weekly Newsline (formerly WestLink Radio) reports in the early 1980's on my local repeater. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Newsline's founder and producer, Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF for his encouragement and direction. RAIN is truly an offspring of Newsline. In recent years, Hap has written for Spec-Com Journal, Radio Scan Magazine and occasionally reports for Newsline but with a human interest focus, as opposed to a news-only approach As mentioned before, Hap's RAIN programming can now be heard on hundreds of ham repeaters across the nation,by telephone, (847) 827-RAIN. (and here on www.rainreport.com)Vern Jackson, WA0RCR continues to carry the RAIN Report on his 160 meter Gateway Radio News letter AM bulletin service from Wentzville, Missouri on 1.860Mhz, Saturday afternoon/evening. Hap is a common sight at the yearly Dayton Hamvention, taping a number of the forums with the help and cooperation of the Hamvention organizers. these forums are then incorporated throughout the year in Hap's RAINReports,making Dayton come alive for those of us who may not be able to attend personally. Hap is active on HF, VHF and The Internet, using both a Pc equipted with the JAWS speech screen reader program. He will be retiring his Versa-Braille II Plus terminal, which allows an accomplished Braille reader like Hap to access his Internet E-Mail with nearly the speed of a sighted user. He hopes to be mastering all RAIN audio digitally by summer. As a professional keyboardist, Hap's diverse repertoire of American music from the past 60 years has made him a popular choice in the Chicago area.Since 1975 Hap has been an active and honored member of theDes Plaines Lions Club and received the prestigious international Melvin Jones Fellowship plaque for his service to humanity. As a member of the Des Plaines Toastmasters since 1976, Hap has served as its president a number of times, and has twice served as an area governor. He and Stephanie are currently active with Des Plaines EMA. For Hap Holly, blindness has never been a disability, only a challenge that has served to "fine-tune" his other senses. If you have a friend or relative with a serious handicap or disability, and you've felt that amateur radio would be a worthwhile hobby for them to pursue, perhaps Hap's extra-ordinary story might be just the inspiration they would need to take the plunge. Hap would disagree with my choice of terms (extra-ordinary) since he considers his accomplishments no more than the expected effort required to achieve anything worthwhile...but then that's the sign of extra-ordinary people isn't it? Hap's RAIN Dialup can be accessedby calling: 1-847-827-RAIN (7246).

Callsign KC9RP
E-Mail hap@therainreport.com