Don Wilbanks, AE5DW is a native of Shawnee Oklahoma. He was first licensed in 1995 as a no-code Tech and currently holds an Amateur Extra class ticket. Don is a member of the ARRL and the Pearl River County (Mississippi) ARC. Don is a 2-term past-president of the Westside Amateur Radio Club, the oldest continuously operating ham club in the New Orleans, Louisiana area. Don is a reporter and anchor for Amateur Radio Newsline and an ARRL Volunteer Examiner.
Radio has been a major part of Don's life. In 1970, at the age of 10, he informed his parents that he would one day be the voice coming out of the speaker. At 15 he began studying for his ham license, but girls and cars soon became more alluring than Morse Code and theory. It was 20 years later that he finally became a ham. Don was swept up by the CB craze in the early '70s and right out of high school he got his first broadcasting job at the hometown AM station, 1450 KGFF. From there it was off to Oklahoma City and 50,000 watt 1520 KOMA’s overnight shift on that massive AM signal heard literally around the world, then as the afternoon jock on 640 WWLS in Norman, OK. He then found his way to New Orleans and various radio jobs at WQUE AM & FM, WRNO FM (simulcast with WRNO Worldwide shortwave), WNOE AM & FM, WEZB B-97 FM, WLTS FM and then to mornings as a member of the KOOL Wake Up Club at oldies WTKL Kool 95.7 FM. Don was also a traffic reporter for several New Orleans radio and television stations with MetroScan Traffic Network and, following Hurricane Katrina, Production Director for the four Clear Channel owned radio stations in Biloxi, Mississippi. While Production Director at WLTS/WTKL Don produced two Addy Award winning radio commercials. Currently Don is one half of the 2-person production department at the 7 station Clear Channel New Orleans cluster and does freelance voiceover and radio production from his home studio.
In between radio jobs Don wandered down various career paths including retail pipe and tobacco store management and completed training as an Emergency Medical Technician. Married to Dawn since 1984, they adopted their son, Tyler Michael, who was born January 20, 2000. "T" keeps Mom and Dad very busy. The family also includes Amelia, a female Miniature Schnauzer and Ted, a male Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix.
In his spare time Don likes to read and surf the internet. He also enjoys the occasional cigar, car shows, showing and driving the wheels off of his 1978 Trans Am “Smokey & the Bandit” musclecar and the family Jeep, travel and the outdoors. The family lived in Chalmette, Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina. Chalmette is a suburb of New Orleans located in St. Bernard Parish just 10 miles from the Mercedes Benz Superdome. St. Bernard Parish was one of the hardest hit areas. Every structure in the parish (county) was flooded with anywhere from a few inches to 20 feet of water. The family home was flooded with nearly 4 feet of water and crude oil from a refinery spill. They have permanently relocated to the family acreage in Picayune, Mississippi. They share the 10 acre property with Dawn's parents, her brother and his family, her uncle (KB5TQG), aunt and their family. It has become quite the family compound with more in-laws living on the adjacent 10 acre property, again all Katrina survivors.