Royal Order of the Wouff-Hong

If you are a a licensed amateur-radio operator and a member of the American Radio Relay League, you are cordially invited to join the Royal Order of the Wouff-Hong. No magic decoder rings adorn members’ fingers. All the Order seeks are ham-radio operators with a commitment to upholding the highest on-air operating standards.

What, you may ask, is a Wouff-Hong?

In the end, it’s a symbol, rooted in the ARRL’s early history and in the Wild West operating practices a century ago that made even electromagnetic waves wince.

21ROWH lore has it that the name originated with an article about “Rotten QRM” penned in 1917 by T.O.M. (The Old Man), later identified as the ARRL’s founder, Hiram Percy Maxim.

Two words lept out as T.O.M. listened to what one ROWH historian, L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, has described as the “unintelligible gibberish” coming through the headphones.

Among these sounds: wouff-hong. In T.O.M.’s fertile imagination, wouff-hong immediately brought to mind a tool of unspeakable horror, wielded against offending operators. Think of it as the amateur-radio analog to the proverbial 2×4 used to influence a reluctant mule.

Once T.O.M. wrote about this imaginary disciplinary tool, orders began to pour into ARRL headquarters for it. A picture of the tool first appeared in the July 1919 issue of QST.

Cebik posits that in the end, the Wouff Hong really is a symbol, meant to prod each operator’s conscience and steer him or her toward constant improvements in operating skills and behavior.

Join us. The induction ceremony runs from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. (midnight to 1:30 a.m. ARRL HQ Time) on Saturday, Sept. 21, in the New Mexico Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Admission to the ceremony is free. Current Wouff Hong members are welcome to attend.

Want to attend? If so, please RSVP during the on-line registration process so that we can prepare a certificate recognizing your induction.

Last updated 3/21/2024