Written by Engitshun Magee
Irving – A group of amateur radio operators, known as Hams, participated in Ham Fest on Saturday, March 7.
Ken Hansen, president of the Irving Amateur Radio Club (IARC), no one really knows how the term, “Ham” came about but he has proudly been representing the community for 15 years.
“[The event is] a flea market that focuses on radio tools and things like that,” Hansen said. “It’s more person to person and neighbors selling to neighbors. It’s open to the public but mostly radio club members are interested.”
Hansen discussed why their market is unlike many other markets.
“The real difference here is some of them are bigger commercial enterprises and attract the vendors and manufactures, but this event is a smaller one. In this area, this hobby is really popular,” Hansen said.
“Some people like public service, so they practice and work with local fire departments, police departments and things like that for emergency responses. The radio is an interval part of that. They don’t get city radios, so we use ours to talk to each other.”
William Geer’s radio skills are important during emergency situations.
“I am volunteer for the city of Irving Office of Emergency Management,” Geer said. “I manage a group of 17 people, and our primary role is to ensure the warning system sets off during threatening weather. We are also the backup communications for the city. The hobby is what we enjoy doing just because you have a hobby that you enjoy doing. You can actually help the community by doing something you enjoy, which is helping protect and save the lives of individuals in the community.”
Geer has several radio units across the city and every month he and his team make sure the units work smoothly in case other methods of communications fail. Geer has been working within the Ham community for 30 years and is hoping to attract a new generation of Hams to learn about older radio technology to ensure the city remains safe at all times.
Several organizations have benefited from Ham festivals for a couple of years, according to Bill Byrom, vice president of the IARC.
“A lot of what we do is due to the city of Irving not taking their part from the bingo hall, allowing us to distribute this to other people,” Byrom said. “The money is used to help projects within the community.”