Monday, October 13, 2008


I would be somewhat remiss, if I did not mention the passing of a well known Central New Jersey Ham. I was paging through a recent copy of QST recently; and happened to peruse the Silent Key page. Much to my surprise, I saw the call W2FNT, which belonged to John Kakstys.

I knew John; but not personally. I guess a lot of Hams here in New Jersey and the greater metropolitan area could make the same claim. John ran a used Ham radio shop out of the basement of his house in Linden, NJ.

I don't quite remember how I first heard about him; but I have been to his house a few times throughout my Ham career. The first time was in 1979 when I was desperate to become "un-rockbound" during my Novice days. Somehow or other, it was brought to my attention that John had a Globe VFO that would work with my Drake 2-NT. A trip to his house one night after work was quite an experience. Walking into his basement was like walking into "Ham Toys R Us". It was great! He had all manner of boat anchors and varied Amateur Radio gear. You could spend hours talking with him and other Hams, and listening to different radios.

Over the years, I bought a couple of used pieces from John. He was always a good sport about returns and refunds if you discovered that what you bought wasn't quite what you had expected.
Back in the 70s and 80s, after the "Golden Age" of radio stores; but before eBay and the Internet, guys like John were invaluable if you needed something in between Hamfests; or if you didn't feel like doing the mail order thing.

As the Internet came into its own, I saw John at all the local Hamfests, trying to reduce his inventory. He was getting older (as we all were) and the basement "store" had become too much of a burden; and I guess he was forced to abandon it. But I'll always remember John's basement as the place "where real radios glowed, and you could smell the dust burning off the warm vacuum tubes".

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Was surfing the web and saw this. I bought my first ssb rig, a used heath hw-100, from John Kakstys and also a few other items over the years. His basement was indeed ham radio heaven to me as a 13 year old in 1975. He was a real square dealer. Amazing to think of what all that old gear would be worth today. I don't miss that lack-luster hw-100, but I will always fondly remember that basement shop of John's.

    -- Alan, wb2erj

  2. Anonymous4:18 PM

    I was a 16 yr old newly minted novice when I first went down the basement steps at "fnt's as we called him.Manya time he would politely toss us out after we spent an hour or so drooling over those Galaxy Vs or Valients,if only I had a a few more dollars.
    I bought many a radio from him over the years. I lasty saw him at Dayton right before he passed and got the chance to thank him for the years of anoying him. He was a NJ ham radio icon. 73 John and gud dx where ever you are. de WA2PAY

  3. Knew him well and spent a few thou at his QTH over many friday night visits to the basement.My fave was the garage where most of the relics were.Found an RCA AR-88 and a box of nos Sylvania 6L6GC's along with a nice Viking 1 with a spare 4D32 to go along.The stories were the best. Listening him tell how as a young ham he would tune up by watching for the kitchen light to dim.Most from those early days are gone. N2VUW

  4. Hi,
    I helped him in his last hamfest on route 15 in Augusta,NJ .
    Great man and very honest.
    W2ARB Ruben