CQ columnist Fred Maia, W5YI, a leading amateur radio journalist, educator and pioneer of volunteer examining, passed away on March 28 after a battle with cancer.
Maia, 76, published “The W5YI Report,” dubbed “America’s Oldest Ham Radio Newsletter,” from 1978 to 2003, and has been a CQ contributing editor since 1985. His regulatory affairs column, first titled “Ticket Talk,” then “Washington Readout,” offered news and perspective on FCC and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) actions, and helped untold numbers of hams wend their way through often-confusing mazes of the volunteer examining and vanity call sign systems.
“Fred was one of those unusual people who was more focused on doing the job than he was on getting credit for doing it,” noted CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA. “His ‘job’ was to help this hobby grow, and he succeeded admirably.”
Maia was also a driving force in amateur and commercial radio licensing and education materials since late 1970. He was the first Volunteer Examiner Coordinator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1984, and his W5YI-VEC group grew into the nation’s second-largest VEC after the ARRL. Fred served as President of the W5YI-VEC until his retirement in October of 2000. In 1986, he founded The W5YI Group to develop, publish and sell amateur and commercial radio license study materials. Fred also formed National Radio Examiners to provide examination services as a Commercial Operator License Examination Manager (COLEM), and co-wrote a commercial radio licensing study manual with Gordon West, WB6NOA.
As a longtime member of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) and its Question Pool Committee (QPC), which develops and maintains the question pools for amateur radio license exams, Fred was deeply involved in many of the changes in amateur radio licensing over the past quarter century. This includes the phased elimination of Morse code requirements for amateur licenses and the current system of three license classes, Technician, General and Amateur Extra.
A resident of Arlington, Texas, Fred was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Radio Operator’s School, and was first licensed as an amateur radio operator as a teenager in Rhode Island, where he grew up. He is survived by his wife, Doris, and two daughters. A memorial service was scheduled for 3:00pm, Saturday March 31, 2012, at Moore Funeral Home, 1219 North Davis Dr. ,Arlington, TX 76012.