By Almeda Girod
Interest in amateur or “ham” radio is being rekindled at Riderwood. When Hy Badler died this past January, his widow, Muriel, donated his equipment to the Ham Shack in King’s Court. Rita Schmidt describes the local Ham community as being like “kids in a candy factory” as they moved the equipment into their shack.
Pal Littleton is typical of many who became licensed as a teenager but then “life got in the way” and now, with more available time, the interest is being revived. As a youth, Stanley Marshall sat in his Virginia home by a Silvertone radio that broadcast short-wave band in the evening hours. He wondered “Who in the world are these people?”
Pal and Stanley both “scavenged” discarded parts from old radios and TVs to build their first radios. Don Schmidt, a farm boy in Kansas, had an uncle who was a ham and this led to interest for Don to learn Morse code and become licensed. Lee Rose was an adult with a family when he first developed an interest.
Rita Schmidt and Jacinta Marshall’s interest in ham radio was sparked by their husbands, and they earned their licenses and became, in ham language, XYL’s (X Young Ladies). Rita, a nurse, traveled on the road at night and recalls using the radio as a safety device.
Amateur radio operators in the United States are subject to international and federal regulations. Proficiency in code is no longer required for licensing. This change encouraged more youth and others to pursue the hobby. Ham radio is becoming more digital, creating a learning curve for older hams. Over the years, ham radios have provided community services including emergency communication in times of disasters, serving as an essential link between stricken communities and the outside world until normal conditions are reestablished.
The Club is always looking for residents interested in the hobby. Recently Pal noticed the license plate (KE3HE) on the car of a new resident, Ben Cranston, and quickly reached out to him. Those wanting more information may call Pal Littleton at 301-273-2395 or Don Schmidt at 301-273-9261.
Muriel, an honorary member, knows that Hy “is looking down from Heaven smiling” as he sees his modern equipment continuing to be well used.