“Springtime” Goof

3 Comments

I guarantee you I never would have noticed these mistakes in the third season episode “Springtime.” They have to do with Colonel Blake’s use of ham radio. I know next to nothing about ham radio but Adi, a licensed ham radio operator, was both knowledgeable and observant enough to recognize the following mistakes. In the episode, Colonel Blake contacts a ham radio operator in Des Moines, Iowa who agrees to help connect Klinger in South Korea with his bride-to-be in Toledo, Ohio so they can get married. Here’s the important exchange:

Henry: “Alrighty, BS2XYZ, I gotcha. That’s 6:00PM there, 4:00AM here. Righty-o, roger wilco, over and hour, ten-four and goom-bye. Okay, Klinger, you’re all set.”
Klinger: “Colonel, I could kiss you!”
Henry: “You do and I’ll chin myself on your nose.”
Klinger: “Are you sure this radio thing’s going to work, sir?”
Henry: Klinger, BS2’s a ham operator in Des Moines, Iowa, right? Now he’s gonna pick us up on his shortwave and call Laverne — your Laverne — at the chapel, collect, in Toledo, so he can patch her phone into his radio which we can hear on our radio and which Laverne can hear on her phone and her parents can hear on their extension. Simple?”

According to Adi there are two problems with the call sign BS2XYZ used by the unnamed ham radio operator in Des Moines. Call signs identify radio operators by the country of origin and area of operation. I don’t begin to understand how call signs work but you can read a little about call signs at this FCC page. The first problem with BS2XYZ is that the prefix BS has been allocated to China, so someone operating out of Iowa would not have used it. Second, the United States is split into geographic region — each assigned a numeral — and Iowa (along with Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) must have a 0 in it.

Colonel Blake says goom-bye

Colonel Blake says goom-bye

Later, during the wedding ceremony, Colonel Blake reveals that his call sign is KN5YVJ. Here’s what Adi had to say about this call sign:

The Korean code letters were HL & HM but some American military base ham stations abroad do use a US callsign. As it was never fully explained that MASH 4077 had any such station, I’m assuming that maybe Colonel Blake was using his own privet US callsign with military standard transmitter. But he was from Illinois and should use 9 in his callsign. However, as we know Colonel Blake as what he is, he is not strong with numbers.

Like most goofs, these mistakes had no impact on the episode itself. Most viewers probably didn’t even give the call signs a second thought. Anyone not familiar with the intricacies of ham radio call signs would never have known they were incorrect.

3 Replies to ““Springtime” Goof”

  1. I never noticed it when I was watching the first time, but after getting my license it was very noticeable. The musters had a Ham Radio episode and they sorta got Hermans right W6XLR4 which really should have been W6XLR/2 or W6XLR. The X in the suffix is used sort of like 555 as the FCC issues no ham radio call signs with suffixes starting with X. In Last Man Standing Tim Allens character uses KA0XTT a nice play on X-Tim-Taylor. It is formatted correctly all except for the X. Interestingly the plot line has led to Tim Allen actually getting his license and joining the ranks of entertainers like Joe Walsh, Marlon Brando and others.

  2. As a Ham for over 20 years, I’ve noticed many TV and movie bloopers when it comes to radio usage and call signs. The KN5 call could very well have been in the states. it’s legal to operate, with a reciprocity agreement, in other countries but the call should be prefaced with the country code and zone of the area you are actually operating in. So the call should have been W0/KN5YVJ.
    Also, the Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) is a radio network operated under DoD authority using either ham or military radios in the same general frequencies as ham radio. Army and Air Force MARS are still around but the Navy MARS program was decommissioned on 30 Sept, 2015. The Army and Air Force MARS programs picked up those Navy MARS members who chose to continue serving.
    MARS Calls are easy to id, they are in this format 3 letters, 1 number, 3 letters. Navy calls started with NN, Army MARS calls start with AA, Air Force calls start with AG and the Pentagon station has the call sign WAR. So the ARRL MARS call sign is AAN1ARL.
    One final note, the FCC issues call signs based on where the license is issued and moving to a new location does not change the number in the call. For example my original call was issued as N2… and although i no longer live in a state in the 2 zone, I still use that same call sign even though I’m now in the 4 zone. It’s also possible for someone who takes the license exam outside his numbered zone will receive a license from the zone that he took his exam in. So if you live in NY but take the exam in FL you may have W4NNN (FL zone) rather than W2NNN (NY zone) as a license.

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