I "finally" became a ham when I was working at WDAY-AM-FM-Television in Fargo in the mid 1980's. Vice President and COO Sumner Rasmussen, W0TXJ (SK) was a ham.
Rass was retiring, and going to travel in his motorhome, looking for a place to permanently settle in retirement. I heard from him as they traveled all over the Southwest. He'd park his motorhome for the night, and we had a sked, so we'd meet on 40 meter CW and visit. He wanted to take himself out of the loop after retirement, so we never had any reason to talk about work. He just would ask "any news?" And ask about how his old buddies at work were doing. They finally settled in Coolidge, Arizona. By the way, Rass came up through the engineering ranks, not sales or programming. His experience was invaluable. Rass was a radio operator for the Army Air Force in World War II, he told stories of operating radios on small islands in the Pacific. He taught me code. So, after about 2 months of "getting my speed up to 5 words a minute or so," Rass and I made a trip down to Burghardt Amateur in Watertown South Dakota, I bought a Butternut vertical and a used Kenwood TS-120, and a straight key...and the rest is history.
My shack consists of a Yaesu FT-950, Yaesu FL-2100B amplifier, A Hallicrafters HT-32B (currently in the closet) and that lovely Hammarlund HQ-180. Maybe those tube radios remind me of cold winter nights back in Jamestown, ND when as a little boy I would turn it on, and listen. Years later, when my mom was still alive, I told her I got my ham license and had to pass the Morse exam. She was so proud, and said "well son, are you still playing with your shortwave radios..." Mom passed on about 3 years ago. I love broadcasting -- I started as a DJ when I was in high school in Jamestown, ND, at a little thousand watter, and have worked as a newsman and or news director in Wichita, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Bismarck ND and here in Fargo. I don't do much on voice on ham radio, except for a group that gathers on 160 meters every Sunday morning on 1895, the "Goose River Net." Talking on the radio is too much like work for me, because I talk into microphones all day. I suppose that's why I'm a CW guy. Rass, when I got my ticket, said "stay with it, Swartzie, you'll love CW." He was right.
Man, I remember the good old days of nuzzling into a spot on the crowded Novice Ghetto (another ham’s term) on 40 meters at night (7.1 to 7.150), it seemed like hundreds of QSOs were going on all at once...but I managed to work most of the states in a fairly short period of time. I remember working Mexico, and Alaska on 40 meters...I was on a ham radio high for weeks....I miss those Novice days! Say what you will about CW, yes, I'm a CW guy, but for me, anyway, it was a great time. And heck, I was old comparably by then. Already 37. Now almost 61, and ham radio still fascinates me....