Amateur Radio Club participants practice radio skills

W 0 H B A.

It may sound random, but the sequence is what allows Richard Wengel to be identified on the radio.

“Every ham radio operator that passes the test is issued a unique call sign in the United States,” says Richard Wengel, Souris Valley Amateur Radio Club Field Day Chairman.

Wengel has been around ham radios for as long as he can remember. His father was an operator as well and taught him about the system from a young age.

“When my father passed away, I had a friend of mine told me that I was smart enough to take the test without studying so he kind of shamed me into it and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” says Wengel.

For the past 20 years, he has joined over 35,000 radio amateurs in the annual American Radio Relay League Field Day: an opportunity to practice radio skills for re-establishing communications in case of an emergency… as well as a contest.

“The purpose is to make as many contacts with as many other stations in the country as you can in 24 hours,” says Wengel.

Taking their time, it took the Souris Valley Amateur Radio Club about five hours to set up this emergency communication site, but in the case of an actual emergency, they would be able to restore communications much quicker.

“If we lost all communications at 1:00PM today, I got the phone call, we could have a station on the air in two hours. It would not be this elaborate, but we could have something up and running in two hours,” says Wengel.

Seven years ago, Wengel and other local ham radio operators put their skills to the test in a real-life situation.

“During the 2011 flood, we did provide some backup communications for the Red Cross,” says Wengel.

Thankfully, we didn’t lose our communications at that time, but if we had… they were ready.

“Ham radio operators always step in and help when communications go down,” says Wengel.

In the meantime, they’ll be practicing their skills on the amateur radio frequencies

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