Wake Forest University students will host an amateur radio demonstration April 18 on University Plaza (the Quad) from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. They will use short wave radios to contact operators around the world in an effort to attract interest in starting an official amateur radio club at Wake Forest.
Freshman Chris Plumblee hopes to draw students to the hobby with the demonstration which will be held on World Amateur Radio Day. Plumblee began looking for students this fall to help start the first amateur radio club at Wake Forest.
“When I came to Wake Forest, I brought some of my equipment with me figuring radio would be part of my college experience the same way it was part of my high school years,” Plumblee said. “But when I got here, I realized not many students know about ham radio, and I decided I’d change that.”
Plumblee started by soliciting help from faculty members and staff who are licensed amateur radio operators.
Plumblee, who earned his license two years ago, said he likes learning about the technical aspects of the hobby, but still enjoys the social benefits the most.
“It’s really rewarding to know that you can turn on a radio and, with a little work, talk to someone anywhere in the world,” Plumblee said. “You have endless possibilities to connect with people when the weather and atmospheric conditions are right.”
International students at Wake Forest have received special invitations to attend Wednesday’s demonstration to try to contact people in their home countries. Depending on the weather and various conditions in space, the students may be able to send and receive signals from anywhere in the world.
Plumblee learned the hobby from his father who has been a licensed operator for more than 20 years. Plumblee is trying to collect 100 postcards from other users around the world to earn certification from the American Radio Relay League, a national organization for amateur radio operators. He has six so far – from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Cuba and Great Britain.
Hoglund said amateur radio is gaining popularity with young people thanks to recent movies like “Frequency.” Another draw, he said, is the opportunity to do public service via radio communication. Radio operators often help the weather service gather information during emergencies, and law enforcement agencies during natural disasters.
When a 1999 flood washed through Tarboro, his hometown, Plumblee used his radio to communicate with people from across the state who wanted to help.
Hoglund hopes that if a club is chartered, members will connect with alumni and other people from the university community who are also radio operators.
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