James Wades (WB8SIW)

James Wades currently serves as Board Chairman for RRI as well as acting as Emergency Management Director for the organization.

Originally licensed as WN8SIW in 1974, he has been active in various amateur radio activities, having served as an Oakland County (Michigan) Emergency Coordinator, Section Traffic Manager, and Section Emergency Coordinator/State R.A.C.E.S Officer. For many years, he served as General Manager of the Michigan Net, QMN.

Mr. Wades is retired as a certified Michigan State Police Professional Emergency Manager (PEM). For many years, he specialized in issues of port security, counterterrorism, hazardous materials response, bio-terrorism, and school violence planning and response. Amongst other duties, he chaired the port security exercise design and evaluation committees and the security sensitive information management committee. He also consulted with various emergency management agencies to design bioterrorism response plans, multi-jurisdictional disaster exercises, and school violence response plans.

During a 25 year association with the National Weather Service, he assisted with the development of the first standardized spotter training programs in the Great Lakes Region. He was well known to those in the fire service and ARES community as he regularly trained between 700 to 900 tornado spotters per year on behalf of the National Weather Service. Mr. Wades was also active in the development of rain gauge networks and data collection projects, including a very successful program through which Michigan QMN members assisted with the calibration of the the new WSR-88D doppler weather RADAR VIL program by providing accurate rain fall measurements via their statewide NTS network.

Mr. Wades also has a background in RF systems engineering and controls engineering. He is currently employed as Manager of Engineering for the North American subsidiary of a large German Manufacturing company, specializing in the design, testing and verification of train control and life-critical (vital) railroad signal and communications systems.

On a more informal note, Mr. Wades has worked on various motion picture projects in the area of set design and set dressing. In addition to various radio and broadcast television work, he has been involved in several “big budget” motion pictures including Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” “The Polar Express,” Disney’s “Lone Ranger,” as well as various other movies and historical documentaries.

His preferred operating mode is CW (radiotelegraph) and he is proficient in both International Morse and the American Morse Code (utilized in commercial and railroad telegraphy). He serves as President of the “Morse Telegraph Club,” an association of retired/former commercial telegraphers, former telegraph industry employees, historians, and others with an interest in the history of telegraphy and telecommunications. He has presented numerous talks on the history of telecommunications to engineering societies, historical organizations and, of course, amateur radio associations.

Mr. Wades holds an Extra Class Amateur Radio licenses He was one of the original founders of Radio Relay International in 2016.

Richard (Rich) Fisher (NS7K)

Rich passed his Novice exam in 1968 and was assigned call sign WN7JJL while attending High School in Utah. He upgraded to General Class and was assigned WA7JJL. Rich joined the US Navy Reserve upon graduation from High School and was sent to basic training in Sand Diego. Upon completing basic training, he was assigned to Radio A school, also in San Diego. He served on two destroyers as a radioman. During his active duty he obtained the rank of RM2.

Rich is a graduate of Weber State Collage in Ogden where he earned a BS degree in History and a Minor in Geology. He worked for the US Air Force in electronics, retiring in 2005.

Rich worked for Clearfield City as the Emergency Services Manager for six years. While working at Clearfield he has taken the ICS management class and attended two trips to Emmitsburg MD for emergency management training.

Rich’s amateur radio public service involvement includes having served as the ARRL Utah Section Manager and Utah Section Emergency Coordinator. He also served as EC for Davis County and as an Assistant EC. Rich was involved in several emergency activations during which he was deployed. He has been a member of the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and has served as net manager of TWN CW Net and Utah Code Net.

Rich enjoys working DX (CW, SSB, and Digital) when not active in public service communications.

At the present Rich manages the Digital Region 12 and Alternate Western Area Relay Hubs. He is also NCS on Utah Code Net and RRI 12 session one on Thursdays as well as serving as NCS on the Beehive Net (Utah) section net on Sundays.

Jim Kutsch (KY2D)

Jim Kutsch began his ham radio journey in 1967 with his Novice license, WN8ZNH, while in high school in Wheeling, WV. He upgraded to General then Advanced in 1968. He began traffic handling shortly after becoming a General Class licensee, participating in the WV phone and CW nets as a traffic handler and later a net control station. While pursuing his Bachelors (Psychology) and Masters (Computer Science) degrees at West Virginia University, he taught CW and theory novice classes almost every semester. After obtaining his PhD in Computer Science from the university of Illinois, he returned to WVU as an Associate Professor of Computer Science.

While at Bell Labs in the 1980s, Jim upgraded to Extra Class and obtained the call sign KY2D. Now In Morristown, NJ since 2005, he continues his commitment to traffic handling as the system operator of the Eastern Area Digital Traffic Network Hub. He is an active participant in local, section, region, and area nets, and serves as an IATN liaison. He is Section Traffic Manager for the NNJ Section, and he is active in ARES and RACES.

In addition to traffic handling, Jim has been involved with packet radio since the 1980s when he interfaced a Unix system with an early packet TNC, providing Netnews (Usenet) access to NJ/NY hams. He is also interested in leveraging computers for ham radio, including AMPRnet and the Allstar network.

Before retirement, Jim served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey from August 2006 until he retired in December 2019. During his tenure at The Seeing Eye, he also served as Chair of the Board of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), as Chairman of the Morris Animal Foundation Board of Trustees, and as President of the Council of U.S. Dog Guide Schools. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of National Industries for the Blind and was a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

He has lectured nationally on disability awareness, adaptive technology, and advocacy. He has made extensive contributions in product accessibility evaluations, and he has authored several published articles. He designed and developed the first talking computer for blind computer users in 1975 as his doctoral dissertation research.

Prior to joining The Seeing Eye, Jim was a Professor of Computer Science at West Virginia University, then worked for three decades in the telecommunications industry, including as a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories, as Vice President of Computing and Network Services and later as Chief Information Officer at AT&T Universal Card Services, and as Vice President of Strategic Technology at Convergys.

He and his wife, Ginger, live in Morristown, New Jersey with their Seeing Eye dogs, Easton and Willa. In addition to amateur radio, his interests include financial planning / investing, leadership / governance, sailing, bicycling, and cooking.

Steve Phillips (K6JT)

Mr. Phillips passed his Novice test in 1960 and was assigned KN7OOR in Spokane, WA during early 1961. He moved to CA and was assigned WA6TVA upon passing the General Exam during August, 1961. He passed the Extra Class Exam in 1967 while attending U.C. Berkeley, majoring in electrical engineering. He received the current K6JT callsign in 1977 as part of the new callsign program for Extra class licensees. He also held the Navy/Marine Corps MARS callsign N0SEL during the 1960s at which time he was active on several MARS CW circuits while attending high school and college.

Steve is a graduate of U.C Berkeley, having received BSEE and MSEE degrees in 1968 and 1969, respectively. He retired from Rockwell Collins (originally Collins Radio Company) in 2001 with 32 years of service, then consulted part time for Rockwell Collins for another 11 years as a military satellite communications systems engineer. He is the former trustee for the Rockwell Collins Amateur Radio Club station, W5ROK (now N5CXX), in Richardson, TX.

Steve’s main amateur radio activity is CW and digital traffic handling via Radio Relay International (and NTS), He had been active on-air using RTTY, Packet, and ATV and was active in ARES and RACES during the 70’s and 80’s. He was a member of the Northern California Net (NCN) while in high school and college, then SCN upon a move to southern California.

Steve acted as Section Emergency Coordinator for the Orange Section during the early 1970s and he served as manager of SCN during the mid to late 1970s. During the ’80s and ’90s, he participated in SCN and RN6 as NCS until his transfer to Texas in 1993.

While residing in Texas, he served as manager of the TEX CW Traffic net from 2005 to 2018, and he still performs liaison to the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) area and acts as CAN NCS, IATN (formerly TCC) assignment as station “E” one night per week, and RN5 Liaison and NCS as needed. He is active on VHF packet radio for RRI/NTS activities in the DFW area on 145.05 via N5CXX and the ARES VHF Winlink 2K RMS stations. Steve operates HF VARA and Winmor for RRI Digital Traffic Network access.

During 2018, Steve gave up being the primary region 5 Digital Traffic Station due to his wife’s health and the need to care for her. He can operate PSK31 and RTTY but does not do so very often.

Steve was elected Chairman of the National Traffic System Central Area Staff in 2014, a position he held until terminated by ARRL HQ action in 2016, at which time Radio Relay International was created and nearly all former NTS Nets at the region level and above in the Central and Western areas became affiliated with RRI.

Leslie Varnicle (WA3QLW)

Leslie started handling traffic during the Vietnam era and enjoyed handling the “MARSGRAM” messages between those serving overseas and home. With experience and increasing interest, Leslie eventually served as State MARS Director for Pennsylvania.

Work eventually took Leslie to Colorado where Leslie became involved in both section and region NTS nets, having expanded the CO net to the section level via a VHF linked system and having recently started up an early evening region wide net on 75M SSB (3.989 mHz).

Leslie holds an FCC Amateur Extra Class License and the old Commercial First Class License with Radar endorsement and Second Class Radiotelegraph. License.

Steve Hansen (KB1TCE)

Steve is a native Mainer. He developed an early interest in electronics and vacuum technology, receiving his BSEE from Northeastern University in 1972. He worked at Fairchild Semiconductor’s facility in So. Portland as a development engineer. In 1977 he moved to New Hampshire, working at Digital Equipment Corp’s. semiconductor facility in Hudson Massachusetts. He left DEC in 1995 for a position in product management at MKS Instruments in Andover, Massachusetts. While at MKS he guided the implementation of vacuum technology programs at 2 and 4 year colleges world-wide. Steve retired in 2009 and he and his wife Christine moved to Owl’s Head in the midcoast of Maine.

While having an interest in amateur radio since his teenage years, he only became licensed in 2009, shortly after a friend introduced him to the wonders of APRS, packet and other digital modes. He quickly became a promoter of Winlink and NBEMS within the state and is a member of the Knox and Waldo County ARES/RACES teams. After running a BPQ32 BBS for a few years in support of a couple of networks, he shifted gears in 2014 when he became a digital relay station (DRS) in the former NTSD. The station continues to support digital traffic in Maine for RRI.

Since joining RRI, Steve has been instrumental in forging a connection between the Winlink System and RRI via the Winlink Express “Radiogram Text Creator” template and the Winlink-RRI Liaison network He has also fostered a relationship with Region 2 Army MARS where 213 format radiograms are passed on a near weekly basis. Steve also formed a local Neighborhood HamWatch effort with several other hams in his area.

In his spare time he maintains a vacuum technology website for hobbyists and educator and he writes a monthly column for Vacuum Technology & Coating magazine. He is also a member of the SHARES Auxiliary and Co-Chair of the HF Alerting Group.

David Struebel (WB2FTX)

David Struebel, WB2FTX, founded NJVN/E — a local VHF net — in 1986, serving as net manager from 1986-1992. In 1988, he received the W2SWE New Jersey Traffic Handler of the Year Award. He currently serves as the Digital Traffic Net (DTN) Eastern Area Digital Manager, having served as Digital Second Region, Eastern Area Net Transcontinental Corps Mailbox Operator until 2018. Dave has also trained eight new NTS member stations on digital traffic operations.

In 2009, he received the Hudson Division Technical Achievement Award. Past ARRL field appointments included Erie County (New York) Emergency Coordinator (EC) and Western New York Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC). Dave also served as the Northern New Jersey Section Traffic Manager (STM) from 1987 until 2018.

Dave is a member of the RRI Board of Directors since the inception if RRI in 2016


James serves as the Statistician for RRI.

Licensed in 1993 he has been involved in almost every aspect of Ham Radio. James is an Assistant Section Manager in the section of NH. His favorite activity is traffic handling and Skywarn weather spotting. James is the Net Manager for a weekly DMR Skywarn Net.

James is a retired Firefighter of almost 25 years and has been a Certified Security Guard for many years therefore he really enjoys public safety events. For many years he ran a forestry lookout tower in Southern NH.

Being retired, James spends most of his time collecting, curating, and inventorying his very large Amateur Radio Print and PDF Library and Museum dating back to the early 1900’s. Of course, he also enjoys attending “hamfests.”

James snowbirds in FL and, thanks to Echolink, stays in touch with friends and nets whenever he can. He also enjoys all digital modes including D-Star, DMR, YSF, NBEMS, SSTV, Winlink, and Satellite work.

When not in the ham radio shack you will find James with family and friends at the ocean, watching hockey and football, and enjoying his extensive collection of classic rock, especially his favorite band; The Beatles. James was a DJ many years ago.

Please send your monthly net reports and station activity reports to him every month.