One of the things that I think is taken for granted outside of amateur radio circles is the lack of recognition for what radio experimentation has provided us as a society. Sure, back in the transistor radio days, there was some marveling at the miniaturization of what was basically already “invented”. But this became commonplace fairly soon and the idea of “playing” with radio equipment became the forlorn stuff of a relatively narrow group of folk called “hams”. Many others have written about the growing image of ham radio operators as a marginalized segment of society so I won’t get further into that here. But many hams know what such experimentation actually gave rise to in terms of today’s ability to communicate.
Just in the state of Mississippi, for instance, there is a growing cellular communications company, CSpire, which is making inroads toward the provision of gigabit-to-the-door Internet access at a rate comparable to what Comcast charges for high-speed cable Internet! Peavey Electronics is a name that every rock-and-roll band and fan knows quite well. Hartley Peavey, a licensed amateur radio operator (KD5WVP), has built a substantial company in Meridian, shown on the left. The Stennis Space Center has built key components to the satellite systems providing global positioning systems and remote sensing capabilities for the U.S. And every ham in the world knows Starkville. Once, during a televised college football game there, the smart-lipped color commentator Beano Cook, said: more people know where Budapest is than Starkville. With a population of about 2M, Budapest is much larger than the small college town of StarkVegas (student nickname) but there may well be 1M hams around the world who recognize Starkville as the home of MFJ Enterprises, the largest manufacturer of ham radio equipment in the world with 2,000 products.
As a means of identifying innovation in radio experimentation, broadly defined, and facilitating more of it, I’ve worked with several amateur radio operators in Mississippi to form a Radio Experimenters Society in the state. Although not a club, the Society will sponsor selected activities aimed at fostering experimentation. Those persons offered membership will be inducted in an annual class. The state’s organization for technological innovation, InnovateMS, is located in Ridgeland along Highland Colony Parkway. Membership in the Society will be identified on a wall in the lobby of this organization. We are most appreciative of Tony Jeff, the Director of InnovateMS, for joining us in this venture. Nominations may be sent, with adequate documentation, to the Radio Experimenters Society of Mississippi at this email address: info (at) radioexperimenters.org. The website for the Society is located at: http://www.radioexperimenters.org.
Go put a radio wave into the air and have fun!