Eagle-Eyes didn’t have any difficulty spotting the headline in today’s Press Democrat about amateur radio. The words “Airwave assistants – County amateur radio group valuable where cell phones fail,” plus the photograph of the communications vehicle for the Sonoma County Radio Amateur club practically jumps off the front page of the Empire News Section (B-1).

Reporter Julie Johnson’s description of how amateur radio operators help out with communications during a local bicycle race is the “fun” part of being a Ham radio operator. Another community service role performed by amateur radio groups is during a natural disaster when they provide an emergency communications system for both government agencies and non-profit organizations, if requested. As the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) has publicized for years, When all else fails, there is amateur radio. Several disasters across the nation over the past few years have clearly demonstrated the value of amateur radio operators.

Local readers may have heard of Leo Laporte’s TWiT Netcast Network (This week in technology). Over the fast several weeks, TWiT has also shown a new TV production called, Ham Nation, which is hosted by Bob Heil, K9EID, at 6:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday evenings, at http://live.twit.tv Show #2 was titled, “Emergency Communications,” has been archived and is available for viewing at http://twit.tv.hn

Currently, in the works for Petaluma is the formation of an all volunteer Neighborhood HamWatch group of amateur radio operators who will activate a directed neighborhood emergency radio net in the event of a major disaster like an earthquake, flood, or wild fire. An earlier blog about this initiative (#67), Are You Ready & Prepared to Communicate was published on October 14, 2010. Stay tuned for additional blogs pertaining this 100 year old hobby that is recapturing the interest of a younger generation, to be posted over the next few months.