By JOSIE WATSON
Amateur radio, also known as “ham” radio, is a popular hobby for many across the world and has been around for over 100 years. Amateur radio is a form of communication using just a radio and antenna to contact and talk with people around the world using FCC allocated frequencies. Don’t let the word “amateur” fool you though. For decades, it has aided communication in many emergency situations, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. “I can talk from here to California or wherever with only my radio and antenna. There’s no internet, no landline, and no satellite required. If all communication infrastructure goes down, you can still use ham radio to communicate.” says Ken Howard.
Ken Howard is the Volunteer Ham Radio Operator for the EOC in Stanton. He has been working with amateur radios for over 20 years. Howard’s goal is to bring more attention to the hobby and to get more young people involved. “There’s no age limit to get an operators license so it’s a great way to get kids interested in technology. The way technology is these days, you can’t get enough knowledge about it.”
To demonstrate the efficiency of amateur radio, Howard made contact with another operator in Garrard County named Jim. Communication was reached with incredible speed and ease. “That’s why all this equipment is here in the EOC. If something were to happen and communication was lost, we could still talk to Frankfort using this. I could get a message there faster than dialing a phone number.”
To use ham radio, a license is required. To obtain a license, you must pass an administered exam in one of the three levels; Technician class, General class, and Extra class. Technician class is the most popular choice for newcomers and with it, you will be allowed to communicate mainly locally using your radio. General class allows you to use higher frequencies for your communication. The highest level available is Extra class, which allows you to use all frequencies, including some specially allocated to Extra’s only. Anyone interested in becoming licensed can find study materials for all of the levels online, including practice exams to help you. There is also the Pioneer Amateur Radio Club based in Winchester for those interested in learning more.
Howard will be holding a meeting on February 9 at 7 p.m. in the EOC building in Stanton. The meeting will be open to the public and everyone, including current ham radio operators in the county, are invited to come. There will be discussion on the future of ham radio and getting more people interested.
If you would like to know more about amateur radio or would like to get information on testing location and dates, you can visit, www.arrl.org.