Defining a YL

There have been many controversies over the definitions of YL versus XYL. The term YL was first defined in a Traffic Report signed The American Radio Relay League by E. C. Adams on May 13, 1920 to Miss M. Adaire Garmhausen, 3BCK. He was replying to her submission of an article submitted to QST on “How to Build a Wireless Station”.

In it he called her “My Dear YL–“ and stated, “We have had to coin a new phrase for your benefit as you will readily see that OM will not fit and OL [Old Lady] would certainly be most in applicable.” Even though Miss Garmhausen wasn’t the first YL ham radio operator, this is when the term was first applied specifically to label all women as Young Ladies no matter what their age.

The article was published in the July 1920 issue of QST and a second article of hers followed in May 1921, but it wasn’t until the October 1922 had the column “Who’s Who in Amateur Wireless” that M. Adaire’s picture was printed as she was honored along with another YL, Miss Winifred Dow, 7CP, from Tacoma, WA.

Many OMs have used XYL (meaning Ex-Young Lady) to describe a spouse versus a single lady, but some women, though not all, take offense at this term feeling that getting married does not mean a female is no longer a Young Lady.

In May 1940, the YLRL (Young Ladies’ Radio League)set forth the policy for YL-Harmonics and YLRL that the term “YL” was to be used of all licensed amateur operators of the feminine sex. This meant they were all young ladies no matter what their marital status was. A licensed lady is a YL while an XYL is a non-licensed ‘young’ lady.

Defining a NET

Nets — regularly scheduled on-the-air meetings of hams who have common interests — are among the oldest ham radio activities. The first net was probably formed as soon as two hams went on the air. Sometimes, the nets are strictly for pleasure, to discuss topics such as collecting things, playing radio chess, or pursuing awards. Other nets are more utilitarian, such as those for traffic handling, emergency services, and weather reporting.

The Term 33

It’s impossible to talk about notable female hams without acknowledging the work of Clara Reger, who received her call sign in 1933 at age thirty-five. Reger had a long career as an operator, and managed disaster communications after WWII. Known for her exceptional Morse code skills, Reger spent much of her life teaching others how to become operators. She also received the Edison Award for teaching a fourteen-year-old boy without arms to send Morse code with his feet. But Reger is also known for her signature salutation, which she created especially for women communicating with other women—the salutation ’33,’ which meant love sealed with friendship. Reger knew that to hear another girl’s voice on the other end was rare and special. What a gift, to find kinship with women, through the radio, across the ocean, across the globe!


The Big South Fork Amateur Radio Club YLs hold a weekly NET on Tuesday evening at 7:00pm Easter/6:00 Central for the primary purpose of connecting YLs together. The 145.350 repeater has a 77hz tone and is located in Scott County Tennessee. Each week a new NCS (Net Control Station) will call the directed NET and lead the group in a discussion. Typically, between 5-10 YLs check into the 15-30 minute NET. The NET is open to all YLs and XYLs (with a control operator) and you do not need to be affiliated with any club or organization.