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This Article Was Printed In Sweetwater, Tennessee's Advocate Democrat on 2/27/2005

Discover The World Through Shortwave Radio!

Guest Columnist
Bobby McKahan

     Swl or Shortwave Listening is how I got started into amateur radio. I am whatís called a ham, K4VE is my call sign. As a 7yr. old kid in Akron, Ohio I wondered what the stack of radios in our closet were. Tired of my pestering. Dad pulled one out, hooked up a length of antenna wire and plugged it in. As the tubes started glowing I can still hear the wonderful sounds that came from it. Shortwave! Slowly turning the dial I was propelled all over the world, London, Germany, Spain. I was forever hooked.
     Talk about excitement, since becoming a ham I helped a jet over the North Atlantic Ocean by getting a Canadian airportís frequency. I phoned the airport and kept them online while relaying the info to the pilot. I made contact with a lighthouse on an anniversary of their receiving the first Morse Code distress signal sent from the sinking HMS Titanic. In 2001 I talked to the WWII Navy Veterans that brought the ship WWII LST-325  back to America from Greece while they were on the high seas. With only 7 watts ( 3 more than is used legally by a CB) I talked to a ham in Antarctica. All from Vonore!
     Talk about fascinating, one ham upon waking up found his car stolen. He calmly made coffee while getting his computer online. He wasnít too worried, he had what is called APRS or Automatic Position Reporting System in his car. When he phoned the police they were amazed to learn of this system. They drove to where the radio op said and arrested the thugs. They were using the car to haul loot they robbed from houses.
     Hams regularly practice disaster preparedness, by and large thatís what they live for. To help their communities in time of need.
     Is radio fun? The Boy Scouts have what they call JOTA or Jamboree On The Air. They also work to get their radio merit badge. Thereís Kids Day where kids get on the air and talk with other kids all over the world. When a cell phone wonít work you can use a 5 watt hand held radio to bounce a signal off a satellite and talk cross country. A lot of our astronauts are hams. While orbiting earth they usually take time to talk with students in schools set up with ham radio.
     Here in East Tn. we are fortunate to have Ten Tec. A world class manufacturing co. that builds radios right in Sevierville! How good are these folks? America buys radios from them for our troops. Be it high end communication, amateur rigs (ham speak for radios) or SWL they have what you need. They also make radio kits you can put together yourself. As a bonus, they give factory tours. Teachers, students, parents, anyone can call 800 833-7373 and take the tour. Ask for Scott Robbins W4PA to be your guide. Its great fun and the employees like it also as they get a chance to proudly show off their products. After the tour you can go to the radio room and see all the rigs. Hams can bring their license and work the rigs too!
     Want to see what radio is all about? The Monroe Amateur Radio Society meets every 4th Monday @ 7PM at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce 4765 New Hwy 68 across from Hardeeís in Madisonville. The Monroe County Amateur Radio Club meets at the Red Cross Building in Madisonville the 3rd Tuesday @ 7PM. Both clubs welcome you to attend. You donít have to be a radio op to come to a meeting. Interested in becoming a ham? Call the American Radio Relay League or ARRL toll free at 800 326-3942. They will send you info free of charge. You can also contact me at my website www.mckahans.com. for these and many more links.

Come join the fun. Radio is a wholesome, exciting adventure. Hey, tell íem K4VE sent ya! Cheers.