The Kentucky Amateur Radio Community Services Club of Paintsville held a special event on Thursday, April 14 from the Loretta Lynn Home Place in Butcher Hollow to commemorate Lynn’s 90th birthday.
According to KY4ARC President Richard Salisbury, the club sought the opportunity to host the event, titled K4L, or Kentuckians For Loretta, as a way to help promote the club itself as a means of providing community services, as well as practice setting up radios remotely, a way in which radios perform their most practical function.
“We are the local amateur radio club…we exist to promote amateur radio and, more importantly, to provide community service with amateur radio,” Salisbury said. “We have a good group and are based in Paintsville, but we have members from six surrounding counties. We meet monthly and try to have activities fairly regularly, weather permitting, and we provide testing for people trying to get their amateur radio license.”
Salisbury said the group spoke to people from across the United States throughout the event, which ran from 12 a.m. through early Thursday evening. Salisbury said a member spoke to an amateur radio operator from Spain and the club was simply sharing Loretta Lynn’s story and giving those they spoke to who knew Lynn a unique experience of communicating with someone. one in his historic place of residence.
“We’re not sharing too much information, but just to commemorate and celebrate his 90th birthday, and one way to commemorate something like that with radio is with something called a special event station, and you have a callsign of special event, and for the time when you have this callsign, you reach as many people as possible on as many groups and in as many countries as you can, or even in the next town, and you just bring attention to and celebrate,” Salisbury said. “It’s very appropriate that we can do it here in Butcher Hollow, where she grew up, and everyone knows the story with Loretta Lynn and her childhood, but we have the fortunate to have members in our club who are connected to Loretta, and thanks to those connections, we were able to obtain authorizations to be able to settle here and transmit.”
Salisbury said if the band hadn’t been able to settle in Butcher Hollow, the event probably wouldn’t have been so well received by those the club spoke to.
“I can tell you, being on the radio and talking to these people, it was a little more meaningful and well received because we were here,” Salisbury said, then explaining the importance of QSL cards, a type of postcard sent and received. by radio amateurs to confirm their contact with another operator. “With ham radio it’s a traditional thing that we confirm our contacts with QSL cards, I have one with my call sign and a few things about Kentucky…we have a QSL card here with a picture of the farm , and Butcher Hollow, which we share with those who wish, to commemorate the event.”
Club member John Hager explained that the event was important to the club in both a practical and sentimental sense, as it told a story of Lynn’s first interaction with the radio – which he said had nothing to do with FM radio, but rather the age-old practice of amateur or amateur radio.
“In Coal Miner’s Daughter, they portrayed Loretta Lynn’s husband traveling around that area to various radio stations to help her, eventually, get her chance, but it wasn’t her first experience with radio, her first experience with radio was a ham radio operator here in Van Lear, a guy named Warren Auxier, he had a call sign W9QHQ, and she spoke to me several weeks ago on the phone when she heard talking for the first time about what we were going to do, and told me that,” Hager said. “She said, ‘The kids found out he had a radio there, something that was playing music and people talking and stuff, and he was turning these knobs and gizmos and stuff and we were listening. music, and then he said, now, let me show you the kids something else, and all of a sudden, he’d be talking to somebody, and he’d let the kids talk to them too. ‘”
The benefits of amateur radio are innumerable, according to Salisbury and Hager, and the need for younger operators increases as many enthusiasts of the craft age and the practical applications of amateur radio, especially in the event of natural disasters that could disable the Internet and telephone infrastructure cannot be underestimated in its importance.
“It’s really cool to be able to do something like that, talk in your basement with a wire that you tied between your fireplace and a tree, it doesn’t involve the internet or a computer, it’s just from from that wire above your house to their wire wherever they are,” Salisbury said. “Like, the other day I spoke to a guy in Poland, his name was Janusz, and I told him asked if the Ukrainian war affected him, and he’s in a small town in Poland, which I won’t try to pronounce, but it’s 200 miles from the Ukrainian border… but here’s the thing, you don’t you’re not just hearing a headline on the news, you’re talking to a real person who’s there… The interesting thing is, sometimes what you hear from the person you’re talking to is quite different from what you read in the headlines or hear in the news.”
Training a new generation to operate amateur radios is important because, Salisbury said, the first 24 to 48 hours of natural disasters regularly see the main source of information leaving a disaster area where infrastructure is damaged. being that of amateur radio operators.
“We tried to reach young people… when we talk about community service, one of the most important functions of radio is to be able to be a resource in times of disaster,” Salisbury said. “When we have things like tornadoes in Salyersville and West Liberty and all of eastern Kentucky…in the first 24 to 48 or even 72 hours, the first information always comes through ham radio, because the infrastructure is destroyed. There’s no internet, there’s no cellphones, but the locals come with their radios, that’s another of the purposes of events like this, we’re outside of our homes in a remote location, we have the equipment, the generators and the batteries to be able to use them in those emergencies.”
Salisbury wanted to highlight the great opportunities amateur radio presents for young people in STEM learning areas, as math, science, geology and physics were all key parts of the practice, in addition to offering scholarship opportunities and the pursuit of what often becomes lifeblood. a service.
“We try to get out pretty regularly and do presentations and let people know that radio is here and it’s growing in popularity, and we really try to reach out to young people, because as Johnny so aptly mentioned , if you’re teaching young people about radio you’re teaching a lot of STEM areas that there’s such a deficiency in that fits like a glove for a lot of the needs of some of our early students there’s math involved, physics involved, there’s science and there’s geography, like ‘Where is Zimbabwe’, … you start learning these things because you start paying attention,” Salisbury said. “The American Radio Relay League even has a nationwide program where they give scholarships to students who become graduating high schoolers, they actually give over $750,000 a year in scholarships. That’s something we are trying to do right now locally, is let local educators know about these scholarships as many of them are unclaimed.It’s a win-win-win-win situation.
The most enjoyable part of the practice, however, Hager said, is the community building, exploration and camaraderie that comes with operating a radio.
“People from all walks of life are ham operators,” Hager said. “You have people who are doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors, astronauts, musicians, all types of people. I tell a lot of people when I start talking to them about ham radio, I’m like, ‘Guess what? , I’ve traveled the world,” and they’re like, “Johnny Hager, how did you travel the world,” and I’m like, “Come to my house and I’ll show you,” that’s the best way to tell them. initiate to amateur radio.”
For more information about KY4ARC, visit the club’s website at www.ky4arc.com or visit the club’s monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month at Mayo Methodist Church. Meetings begin at 6 p.m., but the club welcomes attendees early for camaraderie and socialization.