My name is Mark Blanton. I am an amateur "ham" radio operator. My callsign is WC5M. I have been a ham since 1982. Jerry Albright WD5EAG (deceased, or a "Silent Key" - SK in ham lingo) gave me my Novice test in August that year. My novice callsign was KA5OXX. I upgraded to Technician in February 1983, then General a few months later. By early 1984 I had upgraded to Advanced class and was assigned the callsign KE5SB. In late 1984 I upgraded to Extra Class. Late in 1985 my brother, Barry KA5SDN, (who had also upgraded to Extra Class by that time) and I both decided to apply for new callsigns. I was assigned WC5M and he got WC5N. Our Father Bill K5WGQ (SK) was instrumental in both of us obtaining our licenses and instilling in us a love of CW.

I am a "DXer". By that I mean I chase on-air contacts with hams in other countries with the goal of earning various DXing awards. I currently have 324 "Entities" worked all-time (out of 340 possible) and 323 confirmed by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for their DXCC Award. From the time I was first licensed I was primarily a CW (Morse Code) operator. As new countries on CW became harder to come by I decided to branch out into PSK31 and RTTY. I currently have 190 entities worked in the digital modes. Here is a link to my profile listing on EQSL: WC5M

I am also an island chaser, trying to make shortwave radio contact with each of the approximately 1200 worldwide island groups recognized by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) in their Islands On The Air (IOTA) Program (link below). I currently have 466 Island groups worked and 433 confirmed by QSL card.

Another aspect of ham radio I participate in is storm spotting. I am a trained Skywarn Storm Spotter for the National Weather Service. I am also a member of the Ouachita Parish Louisiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) group. ARES provides volunteers to staff the Emergency Operations Center when called upon by the Ouachita Office Of Homeland Security during bad weather or natural disasters. I am currently the Administrative Assistant Emergency Coordinator for Ouachita Parish ARES.

To be prepared in the event of a natural disaster I regularly handle formal traffic for the National Traffic System. I am an Official Relay Station for NTS and NTSD, the digital wing of NTS. I am the former (2009-2013) Thursday night Net Control Station on the Louisiana CW Traffic Net (LCW) which meets daily at 6:30PM and 10:00PM on 3573KHz. Additionally, I am the former Manager for LSN, the Louisiana Slow CW Net, which meets at 6:45 Mondays and Thursdays immediately following the LCW Net.

I am a long-time member of the Twin City Hams of Monroe/West Monroe, Louisiana (see My Favorite Links below). In addition to my Amateur Extra class ham license I also hold an FCC issued commercial license, the General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL). I am a 1985 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology.

In 2002 events transpired that enabled me to retire from my job as a Motorola Product Electrical Engineer at age 41 and move back home to Louisiana. In 2006 I set my station up again and became active after over 10 years off the air. I now devote almost all my time to either on-air activity or building multi-band dipole antennas and air-powered antenna launchers.