SPUTNIK!  A Commemorative Website about the St Joe's High School Radio Club W8KTZ!    
Oscillosope display of Sputnik-1 'beeps'. <BR>
Click on the 'Sputnik Beeps' Tab for a recording St. Joe's High School Radio Club

     Celebrating the heyday of Ham Radio, and the Birth of the Space Age:     

W8KTZ -- 60 Years after Tracking SPUTNIK, SPUTNIK-2, and SPUTNIK-3!

The Airplane Adventures -- The Africa Mission -- Moonbounce -- and more!

Beats Navy by 4 hours
on WEWS-TV-5
in 1957
Sputnik Beeps
The SJHRC saga
"How It Happened"
Mike Stimac
"The Early Years"
"The Fabulous Fifties"
"The Cyclotron"
"Airplane Adventures"
"Call Sign History"

Steve Canyon Comics features "Mr Michael"

by Mike Stimac

Aug 21, 2017

Member Stories,
Memories, and More!
Member Directory
--Contact Info--
Cleveland Hamfest 1998
VASJ Open House 2006

The Visionary Life
and World Adventures
of Mike Stimac

"Wings of Hope"
FLYING Magazine!

Villa Angela St. Joe's History

BBC NEWS Sputnik Links
CQ Magazine
Media Montage

Sputnik produced many "Media Moments!"

Many magazine and news articles covered the adventures of the St Joe's Radio Club gang tracking the very first orbiting space satellites Sputnik and Sputnik-2 launched by the Russians in the Fall of 1957, and Sputnik-3 launched in May, 1958:

Sputnik: October 4, 1957, the first orbiting Satellite

Sputnik-2: November 3, 1957, --with dog Leika

Sputnik-3: May 15, 1958, --a massive 3,000 pounds

An oscilloscope photo of the first Sputnik "beeps" recorded on tape by the club made the cover for their feature story in January 1958 CQ magazine, which was later remembered in the October and November 2007 issues of that magazine for the 50th Anniversary Year.

In all, the St Joe's Radio Club had gotten onto 7 TV shows and were covered in more than 30 radio news stories and 20 newspaper articles, before they stopped counting.

The students literally got their "fifteen minutes of fame" by relating their adventures "live" on WEWS TV-5 in Cleveland, on Sunday Dec 1, 1957. That included movie footage taken while they were doing the actual Sputnik tracking.   The movie was later made into a science visual-aid film.   Sputnik and the ensuing space-race produced an explosion of interest in Science and Engineering as choices of study that extended well beyond the 1960's race to put a man on the moon!

In the years that followed, the students were repeatedly on TV-5 programs with their own Science Fair projects!  --no doubt positively influenced by this experience, but in the end it was the fantastic radio club that gave them a can-do attitude and convinced them that anything was possible.

Besides amateur radio, their moderator and mentor Mike Stimac encouraged them to obtain commercial radio operator licenses "as a backup" to any career or job they might pursue.  But this group was especially linked by an event that would thereafter cause all broadcasting and communications to be dependent on satellites and "rocket science." On the heals of Sputnik, an aircraft training and Flying Program followed!

Thus, several worked as avionics and communications technicians, and broadcast engineers as they went on to college, or served in the military.   Many were affected by the "mentoring", later becoming technical specialists, inventors, scientists, and engineers.   Perhaps fittingly, one of them served a long career with WEWS-TV and headed the National SBE! --Another had a long career with NASA! --and yet another had a long career as a university staff physicist and then acted as moderator of that school's radio club!  So it went.

"Talk about the STEM program these days?

                               --We DID IT ALL in the 1950's!"


St. Joe's High School
Radio Club

Cleveland, Ohio

Call Letters: W8KTZ


The St Joe's High School Radio Club (SJHRC) prevailed from 1951 to 1979.

During that time about 150 students learned Morse Code, got licenses, built and repaired transmitters and receivers, and performed public-service work, such as providing communications for special events, conducting Halloween Vandal Patrols, participating in Civil Defense drills and RACES --the Radio Amateur Communications Emergency Service.

On October 4, 1957, the Russians jump-started the "Space Race" by launching Sputnik, the first space satellite!

The students had tunable receivers, rotate-able antennas, and the manpower to immediately start tracking the signals; --and they recorded the beeps on magnetic tape.

The tracking stations for the "official" planned U.S. satellite launch program were equipped with dedicated fix-tuned receivers and special antennas set for 110 MHz and NOT the "more accessible" 20.005 MHz and 40.002 MHz frequencies the Russians blatantly had chosen for their worldwide public-relations coup!

By the time the U.S. Govt. (Navy) equipment could be changed over, the SJHRC had recorded thousands of feet of tape.

Sputnik was battery-powered, and the 20 MHz signal started to falter in just 8 days.

When the FBI came to take the 20,000 feet of tape for analysis, they said the club even beat the Navy station by 4 hours!

On November 3rd the Russians launched Sputnik-2 with a dog Laika on board.

By this time, the boys had even invented the "Orbitometer" --a circular slide rule, to predict with great accuracy, the location of the satellite at any time. School officials started pursuing the idea of a patent.

On May 15, 1958, a massive 3,000 pound Sputnik-3 was launched! Instead of beeps, it seemed like the buys now heard telemetry coded in the form of a Morse code "L" --diDAHdidit-- perhaps chosen in memory of Laika! --or maybe it was just a coincidence due to the pulse-width coding of that beep.

This is the St. Joseph High School Radio Club (W8KTZ) legacy web page, celebrating the tracking of the first "Sputniks" 1957-1958.   Remember to periodically check this site as we continue to expand this website and add archival material to include more memories from the years before and after the Sputnik adventure, such as the Airplane Adventures, the Africa Flying Missions, Moonbounce, general activities, and news from members & friends, as well as reunions and gatherings.   Tell us how you discovered this website, and whether you remember the radio club.  We would love to hear from you!  We would like to post any memories and archives you might be able to send us.

"Members from the St. Joseph High School Radio Club (SJHRC) 1951-1979   continue to try and locate more old members and associates for our get-togethers and reunions.   We had a "50-Year" Sputnik REUNION dinner on September 29, 2007, had given talks and presentations on TV and at ham gatherings and schools, and had written several articles to help locate more old members, working toward the "Big" reunion that we had right at the old St. Joe's school building, on September 28, 2008.   Members who find us and register, receive periodic updates of the member roster, so they can individually get in touch with old classmates! We do not sell or abuse the contact info. If anything, some members complain we don't send out news often enough.   Please contact us and spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested.   We will continue to build the web page at sjhrc.org which can be consulted for updated information as we are able to post it."

---updated Jan 18, 2020---

This is the SJHRC.ORG "Main Page"

Go to News Updates & Contact Info!

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This web site is provided for historic information only, and is not used to solicit any financial gain from the advertisers or sponsors acknowledged here.  Mentions and links to sponsors are provided to acknowledge their kind consideration in reporting or publicizing our activities, and/or in providing archival material. Any error, improper use of copyrighted material, or offense to anyone, is purely unintentional and will be promptly corrected upon notifying us.  Much effort is put into properly acknowledging the source and copyright of archives salvaged from member resources and collections which were found to often be absent such information. All photos, images, graphics, descriptions, articles, video and audio content are property of the SJHRC.ORG Committee, or that of the credited parties, and/or as determined by the disclosures of the respective linked websites, and may not be used without permission.  Advertiser and Sponsor images, logos, trademarks, slogans, and ad copy are property of the respective entities, and improper reproduction or use of same may be subject to prosecution.  Except for linking to this website, no right to use or distribute of any content or coding is permitted without explicit written permission of the pertinent owners.  Inclusion or appearance of, or references to, the names or logos of any companies, groups, organizations, or individuals, in no way indicates any endorsement or agreement, of any one to any other, or of any philosophy, idea, thought, product, publication, or any form of expression of same. Contact: ral@ralserve.net