Reaching Across the Miles

Photo by: Robert Jimenez (K6YZF)
Dave Ockun (N2JNR) begins making contacts at the start of Field Day.

By Isaac SIMS-FOSTER, intern

Members of the Crescenta Valley Radio Club gathered in Verdugo Park on Saturday, June 23 for the annual Radio Field Day. The event was not limited to just the members of the local club; thousands of clubs of amateur radio operators across the globe also participated in the event. Amateur radio operators attempted to contact as many operators as possible over the airwaves in a single 24-hour period.

The American Radio Relay League, under which the CVRC and other local clubs operate, has hosted Radio Field Day since the 1930s. Since then, operators have come together to practice their craft in preparation for an emergency while making friends along the way. Depending on a number of factors, including atmospheric conditions, equipment power and quality, and location, these operators can make contact with other people across the world.

From being able to hang antennas from the trees to communicating in Morse code, CVRC operators possess many skills.

Photo by: Robert Jimenez (K6YZF)
Gary Kiffel (KM6NIP), Club President Michael Lichtman (KF6KFG), and Technical Director Pet Natividad (N6PET) adjust the settings of one of the transmitters prior to the start of Field Day.

“We have people from all different walks of life,” said George Eckart, CVRC member. “We have scientists here, broadcasters, and I’m a psychologist.”

Amateur radio is also known as ham radio, which many people understand is a primary method of communication during natural disasters and emergencies like earthquakes, hurricane and civil terrorism. Operators are assessed and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to work on the frequencies they do, and would likely be the first and only line of communication between the public and the government should TV, Internet, and electricity go dark in an emergency. But the job is more than that to many of the operators.

Lisa Kassner, another member, has been involved with amateur radio since 1962. Her experience includes videotape broadcasting for Johnny Carson and Jay Leno at NBC.

“My ham friends and I go way back,” she said. “It’s just amazing the fellowship that we have among us, the ‘ham spirit.’ Amateur radio also helps in developing relationship skills, electronic skills, communication skills … it’s a fabulous hobby.”

Though not fancy – there was nothing more grand than tables, tarps, radios and a van with solar panels for power ¬– the 24-hour Radio Field Day was a chance for the members to interact with each other, socialize on the airwaves and off, and bond over their passion for radio.

Another CVRC member, Gary Kiffel, was newly licensed last October.

“I worked for CBS for 43 years, and I just never had time until I stopped being a pro to become an amateur, and I love it,” he said. “[What draws me in] are the people – both the people you’re with in the club, and the people you meet on the air.”

Kassner agreed. “The nice thing about it is when I talk, you have to listen. It establishes intimacy because you’re self-disclosing, sharing about yourself, and the other person is listening actively, so there’s a bond that happens.”

The general membership meeting of the Crescenta Valley Radio Club is every second Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at USC-VHH, 1812 Verdugo Blvd., fourth floor Council Room D in Glendale 91208.