Anchor Desk, Reporter
Neil Rapp's Personal Biography
Neil Rapp, WB9VPG, grew up with Amateur Radio Newsline. He got into ham radio at age 5 in his hometown of Vincennes, Indiana. Neil grew up listening to the Westlink Report teleconferences on a nearby repeater… one of the few at that time that had an autopatch and could pay the long distance phone bill to Los Angeles for the long sessions. As Westlink became Newsline, Neil listened to the weekly report on the repeater as often as possible. When he graduated from college and bought his first home, he had a friend that was a fellow ham and sold satellite TV programming. He had his friend install a 10’ C-Band satellite dish in his back yard instead of other TV options so he could get Newsline via satellite, though a This Week in Amateur Radio feed on an audio subchannel. He would record the weekly show on VHS, and then dub it over to a cassette. Then, he would play the cassette into his radio in order to run it on the repeater every single week. At hamfests, he would have people record local IDs on cassette tape, and use them during the ID breaks within the program. And, he raised funds with a Newsline Support Fund jar at the local hamfest. Getting Newsline has become much easier thanks to the internet, and he’s still running it each week on the W9EAR repeater network. After getting to know the man behind the voice he’d listened to for many years, Don Wilbanks, AE5DW, at the Newsline Young Ham of the Year award ceremony at the Huntsville Hamfest, Neil expressed interest in doing voice work for Newsline. And in 2016, he became a voice talent for Newsline.
Neil got his start in broadcasting doing sports public address announcing at his high school. He was able to get a part time job after graduation with a local FM broadcast station, WFML-FM, and eventually had a weekend sports show in addition to being a DJ and training broadcasting students at the Vincennes University owned station. He also helped with some broadcast engineering projects from time to time, and set up a remote broadcast setup for Evansville Harrison High School. There, he taught chemistry, sponsored a ham radio club, coached basketball, and announced baseball and basketball. He and a former student and basketball player, sports announcer Brandon Gaudin, traveled to baseball games to broadcast them on WPSR-FM in order to mentor Brandon’s broadcasting future. Brandon is now the radio play-by-play announcer at Georgia Tech, and also is an announcer on the Big Ten Network, Westwood One, and on the video game Madden 2017. Neil continues to be a sports public address announcer at Bloomington High School South in Bloomington, Indiana where he teaches chemistry and is the sponsor of the ham radio club (K9SOU). Also in 2016, he started a talk radio show called “Ham Talk Live!”
Neil holds an extra class license, is president of Electronic Applications Radio Service (EARS – W9EAR), and a member of Bloomington Amateur Radio Club (K9DIY), Old Post Amateur Radio Club (W9EOC), and the youngest to become a member of Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA). He is a life member of ARRL, a volunteer exam coordinator, and an ARRL Wireless Technology Teachers Institute graduate. He was presented the ARRL Professional Educator of the Year award in 2004, and the Amateur of the Year award by the Indiana Radio Club Council in 2014. He won the IRCC Technical Excellence award in 2003.