Recently, Wired Magazine ran a story about ham radio operators.
In a world of taken-for-granted torrents of e-mails, instant messages and Skype video-chats, there is a purity and a richness in the shared experience of exchanging “73s” during a live “QSO” with strangers on another continent.
…the hobby has captivated royalty and celebrities alike. Among the most celebrated DXers have been the late King Hussein of Jordan (call sign JY1), Queen Noor (JY1H) and Juan Carlos, King of Spain (EA0JC). Had you picked the right moment, you could have chatted to Morocco’s King Hassan II (CN8MH), the former Sultan of Oman (A41AA) or Bhumiphol Adulayadej, King of Thailand (HS1A)…If monarchs have never appealed, you could instead have shot the breeze with Marlon Brando (FO5GJ), prime minister Rajiv Ghandi of India (VU2RG) or the CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite (KB2GSD) — not forgetting the singer Cliff Richard (W2JOF), Joe Walsh of The Eagles (WB6ACU) and genuinely beyond-this-world DXers such as Yuri Gagarin and Helen Sharman.
…hams talk proudly about belonging to a global “brotherhood,” with few rules and little bureaucracy and the ability to transcend language, religion and race — while never quite knowing who they might come in contact with.
Plus, of course, the chance to be a genuine real-life hero. Days after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake devastated Haiti in January, amateur radio operators were busy at work connecting rescuers within the country and contacting survivors’ families. When a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit Chile the next month, and the phone network collapsed, a radio operator named Alejandro Jara broadcast the first information from the ground.
Hams stepped in on September 11, 2001, and during Hurricane Katrina. Then there was Tony Pole-Evans, a bird lover with a short-wave radio on Saunders Island, who famously risked his life during Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands to radio the first news back to Britain that 1,000 soldiers had landed on Goose Green.
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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.