On How NCIS Maligned the Amateur Radio Service

EDIT: Please view the NEW article, in which the FULL VERSION of this video exists.

I’ve been reading some of the chatter regarding the NCIS episode in which they incorrectly portray the amateur radio service. I thought I would make a video (vlog) and express my thoughts.

I use my new headset mic to make the video. If you have a few moments, please check it out, and let me know how the mic sounds.

Of course, share your thoughts on the NCIS thing… thanks!

Yes, the video gets prematurely cut off.  The editing software on my cell phone chopped off the ending, and I did not realize it until after it posted the video.  I’ll record a follow-up video that includes the ending thoughts, but in a new vlog edition.

Cheers and 73 de NW7US


Visit, subscribe: NW7US Radio Communications and Propagation YouTube Channel

23 Responses to “On How NCIS Maligned the Amateur Radio Service”

  • n1kdo:

    I can read a whole lot faster than I can watch a video.

    How about a summary?

  • I can do both. Watching, and listening, and sometimes commenting, fit into my schedule. Then, when the schedule is tight, I too can read a whole lot faster than I can watch a video. But, heck, for that matter, I can chat online with someone in South Africa faster than I can rely on the ionosphere to be just right so that my HF radio signal makes it to the same town, let alone my equipment hear the return transmission. We live in such an instant society, don’t we?

  • K7TAA:

    Audio is pretty good, except for lots of low frequency noise that might have been reduced by noise cancelling at the microphone, if available, or editing of the video. Makes the listening unpleasant. I had the feeling you were asking for my full attention to the video message while not investing your full attention, by trying to multi-task and drive. But I appreciate the heads-up on the NCIS subject.

    Thank you.

  • Ray G8NUG:

    What is NCIS? Who cares? Amateur Radio is bigger than the USA.

  • Jack Glenn:

    Sounds good for the conditions your in.

  • W1REJ:

    I thought the audio was very clear Tom, and at age 78, if we hear it Ok with no hearing aids, then it is darn good. I give you 5 stars Tom. As for road noise, it was not loud enough to be a problem at all. This was a good test, it was long enough to give us a good idea of the headphone/microphone ability. Of course it also helps to possess a good speaking voice, which you certainly have. I wish more people on the air spoke as clear and precise in stead of a speed test swallowing have their words.

    Thank you Tom, 73,

    Dick, W1REJ

  • Walt n5eqy:

    IF ham radio was digital and installed in every cell phone, ham radio would be one the biggest hobbies on the planet. The millennial generation would be be intoxicated with the hobby. Thank goodness it isnt a mode for cell phones.

  • KB3JC:

    I saw the NCIS episode, I was very disappointed with it. “Handles”, lack of logging, and poor radio procedure.
    I think it gave a very bad impression on a very popular TV program.

  • Floyd KC3CRQ:

    I didn’t see the episode of NCIS so I can’t comment on it. The audio on your video was clear non-static understood everything you said.

  • Steve KE8HXM:

    I watched the show and felt that the writers had no real idea about amateur radio – especially when they threw in the CB handles and left out call signs. Of course, had they used call signs finding people would have been greatly simplified as they could have used the FCC database to find them. Additionally, the poking fun at Hams as awkward and weird characters I found a bit dismissive and not at all like the people I know or the family members I have explained the hobby to. Once again, Television has managed to stereotype things they don’t understand and it’s pretty sad that the fans of the show would be mislead in this way.

  • Richard KWØU:

    Didn’t see the show (ever) but not surprised it mishandled hamming. As a person who flies small aircraft I see goofs with actors handling planes like cars, or giving the impression that pilots are dangerous characters, and (dare I add) using terrible radio procedures. Other activities or characters that most people don’t meet seem to get similar stereotypical treatment (the wacky scientist, cold blooded billionaire, etc.), though once in a while somebody gets it right. Too bad the standard for accuracy isn’t higher.

  • Arne WA1ZBN:

    the mike worked just fine. No distortion at all. As for NCIS, I watched it and was a little upset at poor Tim (who had a very strange callsign) using a “handle” (great for Citizens Band, but not on Amatuer Radio). Clearly, the scriptwriters should have conferred with a HAM Radio operator before they finalized their script.

    Best 73s de WA1ZBN

  • Ross KG5OED:

    Hey Tomas; Nice video but the road noise did not distract from you speaking. Keep up the good work.

  • Joe KB3PHL:

    NCIS is one of my favorite shows. Does anyone know the name of the episode? Is it a recent show or an older one?

  • Colin GM4JPZ:

    First of all, apologies for the dismissive comments from the G-station who could not be bothered to google NCIS if he hadn’t heard of it. Interesting video Tomas, and thanks for making and posting it. I agree however with the comment about the low- frequency noise on your audio, which did distract the attention from what you were saying. Otherwise, the audio is clear and quite listenable.
    73, Coli

  • Jere Whitehouse KK6JW:

    I already left a comment on your YouTube Channel but wanted to go ahead and post here as well. Yes NCIS took some “literary liberties” when they blurred the Ham Radio and CB matters. Nice video. And as to the mic, which one did you buy? I’ve been shopping for a new, less expensive, one for my videos. It sounds great when viewed on my iPhone, and on my computer.
    BTW we are hoping your followers can help us get the word out about the upcoming 2017 Hamfest in Montgomery Alabama. It will take p;lace November 11, 2017. Here’s a short video with all the details. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W89D7fYOKaw We are looking forward to Hams from all over the Southeast attending! KK6JW

  • Jere:

    The headset used in this video (my first use of the headset mic) is from Amazon. It cost me less than eight US Dollars. Here’s the link: http://g.nw7us.us/lp1117hswm

    I don’t know the policy of the site’s administrator, but I think letting folks know about a hamfest is within reason.

    Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts.

  • Dave K6OH:

    I watched the show. While they totally misrepresented Ham Radio and mixed in some CB garbage like handles and CB jargon. I was handled respectfully, They obviously need a technical coordinator for the show, as this is not the first time it had been referenced. I believe there was at least 1 show were it was previously mentioned and it was just as bad technically.. Remember it is a SHOW not a documentary. Actual NCIS agents do not run around like on any of the NCIS shows. I was happy they included Amatuer Radio at all in the show any free advertisement is GREAT….

  • AL /VE3AOF:

    Hi Tom. I would love to hear the rest of the
    story. HiHi.

    I did not watch that episode of NCIS yet. I like the show… let me know when you plan to release that information. 73/ AL.

  • Don - K2PMC:

    Hello Tom,

    Being a 99% CW OP I am hardly qualified to pass judgement on your audio, except to say that it sounded clear and without distortion. I found nothing objectionable in the video except for the premature conclusion.

    I did not watch the NCIS episode. However, I did see Gary Pearce’s (KN4AQ) Ham Radio Now video blog in which he provided an in depth analysis of that episode. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is certainly worth watching.

    I have been licensed since the mid 1950s and have never been involved with CB radio. As some of you may know, AM was king in 50s, 60s and early 70s. And, it was not at all uncommon for an amateur to refer to his name as his “handle”. I have heard it countless times. I never really thought about it but it appears that the CBers may have adopted the term “handle” from listening in on amateur AM QSOs. And, some of you may also remember, that the CB band was originally allocated to 11 meter amateur radio operation. In fact you can still find old amateur gear with a band switch for 11 meters. I know the Heathkit DX-100 had one because I built one.

    Amateur radio operators were never interested in the 11 meter band. Ten meters was their band of choice. If perhaps, more amateurs would have used the 11 meter band, there may have never been a CB band. We will never know.

    There is one thing about the current incentive licensing arrangement within amateur radio that really irritates me. To wit, an individual whose only exposure to amateur radio may be watching an episode of NCIS can purchase some license manuals. And, after memorizing most of the information contained within, this individual can walk into a VE Testing class and walk out with an Extra Class license. This has never made sense to me. IMHO it would make more sense to require a period of time between license levels for an individual to learn what amateur radio is all about. One of the reasons I feel this way is I have had an Extra Class licensee actually ask me if the traps on a tri-band beam were for bugs. I kid you not.

    Don – K2PMC

  • Don: thank you for the fine comments. History is full of lessons, some of which should be highlighted.

    I trust that you viewed the full version of my comments. I tried not to make any judgments; I am not anti-CB, and not anti-NCIS (the show). I hoped to come through with just a clear review of differences between the services. Full disclosure: my first exposure to radio was shortwave listening, then CB for a very short time. Once I expressed interest in electronics, a local ham became an Elmer.

    The full version is here: http://www.amateurradio.com/complete-version-on-how-ncis-maligned-the-amateur-radio-service/

  • Joe KB3PHL, it is NCIS Episode 336, “Trapped,” and here is more information: http://ncis.wikia.com/wiki/Trapped_(episode)

    The full version of the comments I make starts here, at the time code 1:33.

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