KH0/KC0W – Saipan Island, Northern Mariana Islands
By Tom Callas, KC0W

I’ve always enjoyed operating from DX locations. Unfortunately the money always going out & nothing is ever coming in while DXing from overseas. Another issue is boredom. DXing is great fun & all but there’s more to life than sitting in front of a radio for 16+ hours a day. Wouldn’t it be great if one could combine an exotic DX location, a full time job & an easy to acquire amateur radio license?

After working in the petroleum industry in North Dakota (it’s very own DX location) I decided there’s gotta be more to life. Roughly 6 months ago I started an international job search for that perfect “job/DXing location”. I’ve always enjoyed islands. If English is spoken all the better. I started researching the British islands of Jersey & Guernsey. Weather is decent, English is spoken, it’s far from “rare” DX but it’s guaranteed to generate some interest, kinda expensive to live there but doable. Sounds good, let’s move. Oh, what about the employment & immigration regulations for non-Europeans….Basically it’s impossible.

1. I posses no Einstein like job skills which can not be easily filled by UK residents.

2. I’m not in the market for purchasing an ultra expensive home in order to get long term residency.

3. Victoria Beckham is already taken so citizenship via marriage is outta the question.

All over the world these seem to be the three benchmark criteria regarding how long someone can reside long term in a foreign land. I’ve been DXing to Cambodia twice & it’s an interesting place. Staying long term legally is easy and inexpensive. How about meaningful employment which pays more than $15 a day? Ain’t no way.

Maybe I should narrow my search? Perhaps some far flung US possession? Hawaii? No, already too many amateurs. Virgin Islands? Same problem. Puerto Rico? Hablo poco español. American Samoa? I operated from KH8 for 2 months back in 2016. Been there, done that. Gaining meaningful employment on American Samoa is difficult as well. How about Guam? That sounds kinda interesting despite KH2 having it’s fair share of amateurs. Perhaps Saipan (KHØ) might be worth looking into.

Saipan it is.

Roughly 4 months ago I focused my attention for employment on Saipan. Lot’s of physical labor positions are available on KHØ. I have nothing against physical menial labor but I’m not 21 years old anymore. Saipan is currently undergoing MAJOR rebuilding since getting devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu last October. Wind speeds of 185+ MPH obliterated both Tinian & Saipan. Sounds like an interesting, exciting & somewhat dangerous place for a new QTH. Count me in.

So I start sending out resumes, filling out job applications & making phone calls. I wait, wait & wait some more. Meanwhile the phone didn’t ring and the email inbox remained empty. Chalk it up to nepotism I figured. Recently I received an email regarding a position I applied for on Saipan 4 months ago. “We would like to interview you via Skype” it stated. Out of the 23 jobs I applied for I get one response. Best of all it’s one of the jobs I was truly interested in.

The Skype interview goes well. Long story short I get the job. I start searching for apartments. Housing is now at a premium on Saipan due to typhoon Yutu displacing much of the islands population. I’m rewarded by finding a nice place roughly 400 meters from the ocean with a direct shot to Asia/Africa/Europe.

KHØ land is not “rare” by any stretch of the imagination but it should gather some amount of interest from fellow radio amateurs. I’m primarily a CW operator but from my research KHØ is really needed on FT8. I just might have to do something about that even though FT8 is my least favorite mode to operate. Another interesting fact is there has never been a 60 meter QSO from Saipan. Might have to do something about that as well. In order to test the waters I will bring a 1 kW station, phased array antennas, coax, etc. Although utilitarian it will be enough to get a decent signal on the air. If things work out I will have my big station shipped over. One of my lifelong dreams has been allowing visiting operators use my station completely free of charge for contesting & general DXing. None of this silly $150 a day bull$hit to operate a DX station. I hope to offer this free service after everything is setup & (most importantly) finding out if Saipan is the place I want to stay for an extended period of time. Perhaps I’ll love it, perhaps I’m outta there in 6 months.

Thanks to the amateurs who have worked me from my past DXpeditions. I’m excited to be signing KHØ/KC0W soon. It will also be good putting in a full days work to help breakup the monotony of single person DXing. Being a productive member of society is important as well.

Live your dream….I will be QRV on/near April 15th.