All weekend, radio amateurs tested their skills in an emergency – which happens more often than you might think.
Amateur radio has been around since the early 1900s and is considered more reliable than any other type of device in an emergency.
When your phone breaks, the TV doesn’t work, and the internet goes down, ham radio still works. Moreover, amateur radio was even the first to respond to major rescues across the country.
“Everyone has a unique call sign – that’s how we identify ourselves,” said Dave Glass of the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association. “Without electricity, we have batteries here, we install antennas between the trees.”
Not only does the hobby connect people across the country, it also connects people.
“My husband and I were among the first members of the club,” said Mary Mann, an amateur radio operator.
Mary and Shel Mann fell in love and then moved in together over 55 years ago.
That was before they knew how much they really cared about each other.
“When I unpacked his books, there was the amateur radio license manual, and I went to my book stash and pulled out the exact same one,” Mary Mann said.
“It’s different,” Shel Mann said. “It looked like a free ticket to buy ham radio equipment.”
The weekend-long contest calls in around 5,000 amateur stations from every continent and also publicizes a type of crisis communication that has been relied on for more than a century.