This weekend, members of the Delta Amateur Radio Club, the Mid-South Amateur Radio Association, and the Tri-State Repeater Association as well as associated guests and curious onlookers will gather at the St. James Church for the annual Field Day. This is a 24-hour event coordinated by the America Radio Relay League of Newington, Connecticut, held for ham radio operators across the country and reaching around the world.
"The goal," says Tony Brignole of the Mid-South Amateur Radio Association, "is to set up a radio station from scratch and start hollering."
During the event, participants will make contact with other "hams" participating in the Field Day in far-off locales. Members will show off their particular expertise — a feel for the old tube radios or perhaps lightning-fast Morse code skills.
It's not at all unlikely that one of the Field Day-ers will talk with someone in Europe, but Brignole notes that ham radio operators mostly focus on local communication. Ham radios have been crucial in delivering information during emergency situations, such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and, here in Memphis, the straight-line windstorm of 2003 (aka Hurricane Elvis). Brignole also says that they work area parades and do back-up communication for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
According to Brignole, the ham radio draws in folks from all walks — professionals and blue-collar workers. He does say the enthusiasts do share something when he considers the group as a whole. "You've got nerds."
Ham Radio Field Day at St. James Church (4189 Leroy), starting at noon, Saturday, June 22nd and continuing for 24 hours.