By: K5PO, on the scene
[UPDATE]: Wet Noodle Antenna Company has re-opened as "Peanut Whistle Transmitters." Read the story here.
WELLSBURG, Mo.; January 10, 2013 – Solar cycle 24, one of the weakest solar cycles of modern history, is forcing a stalwart of amateur radio antenna manufacturing history to shutter its doors Monday. The Wet Noodle Antenna Company was started by John Blixton, Sr. in nearby Menton, Mo., in March of 1957 at the height of solar cycle 19.
John Blixton, who ran the day-to-day operations of the company until 1996, speaks fondly of the solar maximum. "We used to work DX all hours of the day," says the senior Blixton. "I could work europe on 10 meters at midnight!" John, an avid amateur radio operator since he was licensed at 14, said he felt compelled to contribute to the hobby he loved. "DX was so easy to work back in cycle 19, you didn't need much of an antenna at all!" quips Blixton. "So I figured, I’d start a company that made antennas perfectly suited for these conditions."
Blixton set out to make some of the least effective antennas in the industry. With cheap prices, poor radiation patterns, and non-existent gain, his antennas were selling like hotcakes. By the summer of 1969, it seemed everyone used a Wet Noodle antenna at their station. "We became the benchmark of what an antenna could be," says the wistful Blixton. "We’d have folks tell us all the time ‘I loaded up a Wet Noodle and worked DX!’"
Lately, Wet Noodle's sales haven't exactly pegged the S meter. "Weak solar conditions have led amateur radio operators to buy antennas with gain and directionality, and ours were never built for that," tells Macy Blixton, the youngest son of the senior Blizton, who took over operations of the Wet Noodle company from his father in 1996.
"We tried to make better antennas when solar conditions went bad," said Macy. "But we frankly had no idea how. Our proprietary semolina construction never held up when we tried more advanced antenna designs."