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By John Dowd 

Radio enthusiasts participate in field day


Courtesy photo

The Clark Fork Valley Amateur Radio Club gathered at the Power Park in Thompson Falls last Saturday.

The radio has long been the symbol of communication. Ever since its invention in the mid 1890's, radio has played an important role in basic operations around the world. Last Saturday locals from the Clark Fork Valley Amateur Radio Club participated in a worldwide event, showcasing the communicative power of radio. The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day is an annual event that opens the world up to communicate through radio waves. Much of the basic equipment that was used Saturday functioned in much the same way that it has since the beginning of radio communication. "A lot of stuff they developed, we still use today," said Lynn Lanzoni, a club member, regarding the history of radio.

On mass scale, people from nearly every country broke out their equipment to broadcast and contact each other. These operators, known as hams, are well trained and practiced with this equipment and are constantly finding knew ways to communicate. The field day is a good time for inexperienced practitioners to try their hand as well as for masters in the craft to participate in a friendly competition to make the most contacts possible within the allotted day.

The club meets the first Wednesday of every month at building B in the Clark Fork Valley Hospital, however with the coronavirus spread, the club has been communicating over email, and radio at times. The club skipped their April and May meetings, however, are planning a meeting for July. The meeting will be held at 405 Clayton St., in Plains at 6:30 p.m. The group wishes to officially become part of the ARRL, though several members are already affiliated. The group also plans on opening a booth at the Sanders County Fair. There they will hand out materials, talk about radio operation as well as demonstrate the craft.

There are about 20 members in the club currently, and several of them are well trained operators. "It's amazing the diversity and the knowledge these people have, it's just incredible," said Margaret Juneman, secretary treasurer of the club. Club meetings cover general club business as well as presentations given by members. "These presentations are always beneficial to new and experienced members," said Juneman.

John Dowd

RADIO CLUB - Lynn Lanzoni (from left) operates his radio while Kevin Kerr and Bruce Wortley look on.

The club was stared two years ago by a local named Elijal Corrigan, who discovered the need for communication when the cell towers went down in the community. He has since moved to Kalispell, but the club remains. When he started the club, Corrigan was not even licensed. After starting the club, he got certified and the club began to grow, as new members realized the importance of radio and experienced operators began to teach their craft. "We have a big long valley, if we could get people at each end, it will get easier to relay information in the time of a crisis," said Juneman.

There are more than 170,000 FCC-licensed amateurs with the ARRL in the U.S. and over 35,000 operators that participated in the ARRL field day. Nationally, there are over 700,000 licensed ham operators. The process of getting licensed can cost below $20 for a stretch of 10 years and beginner's equipment can cost as low as $30 for a small radio set-up. Hams range in age from 9 years old, all the way up to over 100.

If anyone is interested in participating with or joining the club, they can reach out by emailing [email protected] The email is also Juneman's callsign. It was also her father's, which she was able to inherit it by proving her relation to him.


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