January 4, 2012
Ham Radio in Hollywood: Amateur Radio Makes Its Debut on Last Man Standing
If you watched the January 3 episode of Last Man Standing — the ABC hit situation comedy starring Tim Allen as Mike Baxter, KA0XTT — you were in for a treat. While this episode didn’t feature Amateur Radio per se, it did show Mike’s shack in the background. Viewers could see the DXCC, Worked All States, Worked All Continents and the Morse Code Proficiency Certificate — all provided by the ARRL — in the first scene. Later on in the show, Mike records his video blog. Sharp-eyed viewers spotted the 2011 ARRL Handbook underneath the mini-tripod, next to issues of QST!
The episode airing on January 17 will introduce Mike Baxter as KA0XTT. According to Last Man Standing Producer John Amodeo, NN6JA, Mike will have a QSO on the show. “We had two Amateur Extra class staff members complete a QSO on 10 meters and we recorded it,” Amodeo explained. “Unfortunately, we were set up on a stage that is basically a Faraday cage. The very QRP signal made it radio-to-radio. We varied the Receiver Incremental Tuning to give it a little extra SSB sound, but I don’t think the signal made it much past the stage walls. The recording will be on the show. We thought our ham viewers would get a kick out of it. Non-hams will think it’s just distorted.”
Amodeo said that all the radio gear on the set is real, working and connected to antennas about 50 feet above the set. But since all the antennas are inside the stage, this reduces their efficiency. Mike’s shack boasts an ICOM IC-9100 HF/6 meter/2 meter transceiver and an IC-92AD handheld transceiver, both provided to the show courtesy of ICOM America, as well as a Comet CHV-5X HF dipole and GP-1 antenna for 2 meters and 70 cm (courtesy of NCG/Comet).
Amodeo told the ARRL that the radios are always on and lit whenever they are shooting scenes in the office. Hams on the Last Man Standing crew use the equipment to make contacts during their off-time. Amodeo also said that he plans to add vintage equipment to the shack in the future.