Matt Makaveli’s redesign of the Kentucky amateur radio license plate.

When Matt Makaveli first began working on his redesign of the Kentucky amateur radio license plate, he didn’t imagine it would soon be featured on the cars of ham radio operators across the state.

Makaveli, a Georgetown resident, had his plate approved by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) late last week. It was one of four options, one of which was to keep the original plate design, that were available for voting on by the ham radio community. Makaveli’s design received 41% of the vote.

“It just hasn’t sunk in,” Makaveli said. “I’m just amazed that it actually went. Somebody in the state government must’ve liked the idea. If not it wouldn’t have happened. I just can’t believe it actually did. Right now, it just hasn’t hit me.”

The new license plate will not available until the current stock of plates are depleted, which is anticipated to be in the summer of 2021.

Steve Morgan, Kentucky section manager for the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), said the license plate is important for building awareness for ham radio users.

“The amateur radio license plate is sort of like a billboard saying you’re from Kentucky and you’re a ham radio operator,” Morgan said. “When you’re driving down the highway, sometimes just a generic plate may not catch your eye, but this new multicolored plate has the ability to catch someone’s eye.”

Makaveli agreed, and said the design of the old one felt too dated and wasn’t noticeable enough.

“I just wanted something that says ham radio operator besides a bland white plate with blue lettering,” he said. “I had a idea for it and I just sat down and got the plan and design together that I thought might look nice.”

Along with some added coloring, the newly designed plate also includes a radio antenna, which was something Makaveli said didn’t become part of the design until later on, but felt it was important to include.

“I thought it needed something else,” he said. “I got to looking at some royalty-free art, found an antenna and thought it looked pretty good. It needed some kind of ham radio something. The next day, I came pack and put an antenna on it.”

Makaveli said the process from the initial design to implementation was a long one.

“Getting the input and the voting and all the stuff that went into this, it wasn’t done overnight,” he said. “It wasn’t like we sat down last night and said that this is what we’re going to do.”

After the design and the voting was closed, ARRL Kentucky government liaison Jack Hedges still had to meet with KYTC for final approval on Makaveli’s design.

“If there’s ever an example of what the ARRL organization can do for the ham radio community, this would be it,” Hedges said.

Despite a new plate being developed, those who wish may keep their current plates. 

“That option still exists,” Morgan said. “If people want to stay with their generic plate that we have now, they have that privilege, and if people want a multicolored plate, they have that privilege.”

Morgan added that the ARRL has the option submit a new design every two years to KYTC.

“It’s a good change,” Morgan said. “I think it will have favorable ratings going forward. Two years from now, we can have another suggestion placed out there and maybe make a change at that time.”

After his six years of being involved with ham radio, Makaveli said he’s happy to have contributed something meaningful.

“I heard some people already said they like the new design and are going to switch when it comes out,” he said. “I’m just glad something came out of it to benefit hams at least.”

Once it’s available, Makaveli said he will proud to show off the new plate on his vehicle.

“I wanted to get a new one anyway,” he said. “By the time I go to renew again, it should be out and I’ll get my plate.”

The initial cost for the license plate will be $46, with a $25 personalization cost. To renew the plate will be $21. In order to get the plate, you must drive a non-commercial vehicle registered in Kentucky with an amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).


Kyle Woosley can be reached at

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