The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club has connected members of the Owensboro community to the airwaves for nearly 70 years, serving as both a social interaction and a volunteer emergency service.
While the club was founded in 1953, Owensboro resident David Patton has been a member for about a year after spending the last 30 years in Colorado.
“The club is an all-around club in that they focus on all things ham radio, ham radio,” Patton said. “That includes people who do emergency services, which is a big part of what will happen at the next club meeting.”
The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club will then meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 19, at the American Red Cross Building, 1700 Frederica St.
Patton said that while emergency preparedness is still an important part of HAM radio, many club members enjoy the social aspect of connecting with friends and meeting new people on the air.
The club maintains repeaters, which boost local frequencies so they can be transmitted over a greater distance.
“What a repeater does is it actually receives the signal on one frequency and then retransmits it on a nearby frequency,” he said. “The little radios or the radios that we have in our cars that have little antennas, they work at higher frequencies, so they’re very convenient to carry around or put in your car, but they tend to be in line of mire, which means if I want to talk to someone in Henderson, it’s going to be very difficult.
A repeater mounted higher in the sky can receive this weak signal and retransmit it to increase its coverage area.
“It has a much larger coverage area, so I can grab a little walkie-talkie and talk to someone in Bowling Green,” Patton said.
Steve Morgan, also a member of the Owensboro Amateur Radio Club, said he has been a licensed amateur radio operator for over 50 years.
After using a kit to build a CB radio while in the Boy Scouts, Morgan said he became interested in the method of communication and joined the HAM radio club at Daviess County High School.
“I came into their club, I was interested in communications and they had steered me towards getting my HAM license through the club,” Morgan said.
Morgan said the Owensboro Amateur Radio Club has been involved in public service to the community since its inception and has been a central part of operating an amateur radio.
“The reason we have a license is that we are there to provide communications to the public when all else fails,” he said. “That means if we lose all communications, like all electrical communications. This is the main purpose of why we have frequencies that we have.
Morgan said club members are still practicing how to react in the event of a power grid outage and how they would provide essential communication if it happened.
“Our fundamental purpose is to serve the community, whether it’s a local, regional or national situation,” Morgan said. “If there was no electricity, you couldn’t pump gasoline for a car, you couldn’t boil water on an electric stove or something like that.”
Although it can be difficult to bring young people into the fold of amateur radio, Morgan said the hobby continues to inspire young Americans by showing the importance of communication methods.
Patton said becoming an amateur radio operator had a defining impact on his life and career. After earning a degree in history, Patton enlisted in the military as a communications officer. After retiring from military service, he continued to work in engineering, product development, and marketing for high-tech companies.
“The hobby allows you the freedom to explore what excites you,” Patton said.