XENIA — Most amateur radio operators are known by their call sign.
Not Kristen Andrews.
The 27-year-old from Atwater — about 20 miles east of Akron — is known around Dayton Hamvention as Antenna Hair Girl.
Think Marge Simpson with bleach blond hair and an antenna stuck down in the middle of the gel-laden quaff.
“I do my hair up every year for this,” Andrews said while posing for pictures with other hams. “I started doing it when we were at Hara Arena. I saw (a man dressed as) Cat in the Hat. I was like ‘I’ve got to do something different.’”
Andrews’ first iteration — which made it’s Hamvention debut in 2011 — was just a cup and an antenna. Then she kicked it up a notch.
Well, more than a notch.
Using a tube of hair gel each day, Andrews carefully styles her hair straight up to cover the bottom part of the antenna. The rest of the antenna is adorned with her call sign — KB30QV — and some purplish lights.
Andrews estimates it takes about an hour in a “scalding hot” shower each night to rinse.
“It’s intense to get out,” she said.
Andrews gets her share of odd looks, questions and comments like “How’d you do that,” or “How long does it take.” The first year someone called her crazy. But most hams just want a quick selfie.
And Andrews is happy to oblige even though she said she doesn’t do it for show. It’s a working antenna, which she won at a hamfest, and actually provides better reception than a standard antenna on top of a receiver she said.
That’s important because Andrews is one of nine in her family who are licensed. She has had her license since 2007 but it wasn’t love at first sight.
“My dad had to bribe me with an iPod,” Andrews said. “(But) I’m like ‘holy crap’ I’m glad I did this.”
Andrews’ cousin Melissa Andrews, 19, has had her license (KN4R0J) since January and plans on joining her older cousin with antenna hair next year.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.