ARKANSAS, USA — Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us had to get creative when it came to staying connecting to friends, family and work.
From social distancing to zoom calls, we often ended up creating memories in ways we never expected. For some, the memories were created turning to a technology originally created in the 1800s, ham radio, and it’s still connecting people around the world today.
Some say the renaissance of ham radio can be attributed to the pandemic related lock downs and social distancing.
Tim Raup, Vice President of the Faulkner County Amateur Radio Club attributes an uptick in entry-level operators to the newfound free time many have enjoyed.
But for others like Tim King, ham radio is an old hobby rediscovered.
Originally licensed several years ago, the hustle and bustle of every day life resulted in ham radio taking a back seat. However, now with more free time and working from home, Tim, his wife, and son, all take to the airwaves in search of their next adventure.
But at a time when our world is pivoting more and more tech-heavy, why something some nostalgic? For Tim King, it’s the thrill radio brings.
“It's curiosity," King said. "It's a suspense. You never know when you come in and sit down in front of your radio, you never know what's fixing to happen. Think about those guys in the 1920s that put up a wire and they built a radio. They didn't buy radio, they built a radio.”
In many ways, ham radio has become a first-class ticket, allowing one to “travel” anywhere in the world, despite lockdowns and travel bans.
The furthest Tim’s signal has traveled is Australia and among the most interesting, recent conversations with people in Ukraine.
"They didn't have social media," King said. "Think about those guys. And they talk somewhere from the US to France or us to Italy or something. Think about the emotion of these people standing up and say it. I just talked to Europe. Yeah. Well, that excitement never has ceased. It's still that exciting."
But it’s not just the pandemic fostering the resurgence in amateur radio, it’s also natural disasters.
“It's not just the pandemic," Raup said, "because it's also we've had like the freeze in Texas, that put a lot of people out of power for almost a month, some people are deciding, hey, you know, I need a backup plan. The tornado we had a few years ago, we were the first to send to relatives the status of their loved ones because it couldn't get through on the cell phone. Cell phones were all jammed. Everybody's trying to call at once, ham radio still gets through.”
To learn more about amateur radio, the Faulkner County Amateur Radio Club invites individuals to join their Facebook group, which has contact and meeting information.