‘Ham’ takes over city parkPublished 5:02pm Monday, April 16, 2012
Wires were strung from tree to tree and from pole to pole at Brewton City Park Saturday when the Brewton Amateur Radio Union (WB4ARU) set up for broadcasting and demonstrations.
Several members of the ham radio organization gathered in the park to broadcast and advertise the fact that they were having a radio party in the park.
WB4ARU was the call signal of Jimmy Godwin, who was the main force behind the forming of the original club and who built the first repeater. Godwin died just before the repeater became operational.
In 2004, Larry Fussell and Scott Hillman decided to revive the old system which had not had much use for many years. decided to reorganize and the old club. There are now other members who meet each week and on occasion have a day, just as they did on Saturday, to bring their equipment together and see who all they can contact.
At Saturday’s gathering, calls were made from as far away as Quebec, Canada and California. The callers were responding to the signal being broadcast from the park.
John Davidson said he came by his interest in operating a radio through his grandfather.
“He had the equipment and I would go to his house to call,” Davidson said. “I got my license in 2004. I lived here in Brewton for about five years, but later moved to Columbus, Ga. I come back now to see family. This is my HAM home. I can travel the world and never leave my home with my radio. My wife is a school teacher and I sometimes help her in class by talking to the students about the places I have been on the radio.”
Charles Jackson said he became interested in the radio when his father bought him a Walkie-Talkie when he was just 14 years old.
Larry Fussell, who is president of the club, said he has had his license for about 10 years.
“I guess it’s a hobby for me,” Fussell said. “I talk to people all over the world. One of my interests is an operation called ‘Islands on the Air,’ A group of people travel to different islands, mostly those who are not heavily populated, set up the equipment and see just how far away they are able to contact.”
David Adams, the director of the Emergency Managment Agency. was at the park meeting. He said the radio serves a very important link during disasters.
“The ham radio operators play a vital role in emergencies and we have seen it happen right here in our area. I am planning on getting my license, too.”
There were several interesting and seasoned radio operators at the park on Saturday, including Roger Scott, who divides his time between Brewton and NewFoundland, and Charlie Metcalfe who has seen radio in its hey-day and worked out of Birmingham during this time.
The club meets each month at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday at the Brewton Library’s Community House. They have no dues and anyone who is interested in amateur radio is invited to attend.