Have Fun and Save the World: HAM Radio in Johnson County
The Johnson County Amateur Radio Club (JCARC) encourages Johnson County residents to learn more about amateur or HAM radio, not just because it's fun but also because it might save your life.
In the late 1970s, a group of amateur radio enthusiasts, HAMs as Karen Weaver, the group's president calls them, formed the JCARC to provide support to one another, as well as to assist new members in getting set up with equipment, and becoming licensed by the FCC. At the same time, most members also joined the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and became volunteers for communications duty in the event of a disaster or other emergency.
Danny Herman (pictured above), a noted philanthropist and business leader, was an instrumental member of the club as well. "He was a big factor in the repeater sites in our county," said Weaver. "For over forty years, he encouraged the use of these radios at our homes and in our vehicles. His voice could be heard all over the county and the world."
Like the best hobbies and the best forms of communication, HAM radio is both fun and valuable. On the social side, users can be found chatting on their radios across the state, across the country, and oceans. You may even find them listening in on conversations at the International Space Station.
Getting to know people, forming friendships, learning about other nations, customs, and even other languages in just the beginning. Johnson County club members perform duties as weather spotters for the National Weather Service, and when disaster strikes, they coordinate with Ballad Health and the Johnson County Health Department to keep communications open and flowing when electricity and phone lines are down. JCARC members who are ARES volunteers might also be deployed to a location that requires immediate communication.
"It will work when all else has failed in communications," Weaver said of the unique role HAM radio plays in emergencies. "The radios will keep on talking."
A simple hand-held radio can get you started, or you can go all in and all around the world with an amplified antenna connected to a desktop radio. JCARC members are ready with advice on all of this, according to Weaver, who said, "Talk to a HAM and catch the bug."
Making it even more accesible is a recent accomplishment of JCARC, which is the fine-tuning of a new repeater on top of Stone Mountain for General Mobile Radio Service. GMRS accomodates shorter distance two-way communication and utilizes one license, which can be shared with all license holder's immediate family members.
JCARC meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Contact information can be found on the group's website at W4MCT.com .
By: Dan Cullinane, Freelance Writer The Tomahawk Newspaper