by Steve Urbon
May 05, 2014 12:00 AM
Amateur radio operators don’t get a lot of media attention. For example, I do not recall anyone reporting the story of the dozens of hams who set up an alternative emergency communications along the entire route of the 2014 Boston Marathon.
We hear a little bit more about them when severe weather rolls in and the volunteer “weatherspotters,” often radio amateurs, trained by the National Weather Service’s Skywarn program, are interviewed by the weathercasters on TV.
The Eastern Massachusetts coordinator for Skywarn just happens to be a New Bedford fellow, Rob Macedo, a radio amateur who told me he spends a lot of time in the National Weather Service’s amateur radio shack, collecting reports from the spotters.
Mostly, though, being a radio amateur is a great way to pass the time and make friends all over the world. Marty Jordan of Dartmouth, a member of the SouthCoast Massachusetts Amateur Radio Group, told me he parks his car by the beach and uses his mobile radio to make contacts just about anywhere. He was particularly proud to have bounced his signal into the ionosphere to talk with another amateur in Ukraine.
The truth behind the hobby is the fact that the Internet somehow has not killed amateur radio, and that’s a very good thing. Almost every major natural disaster interrupts communications, and the radio amateurs have the singular advantage of not needing all that infrastructure to stay up and running.