So how does some chic get into radios? Honestly, I have no freaking idea. I’m not a tech geek, not in the electronics field. I had never played around with CB radio or even GMRS/FRS radios. Nothing. So, what the hell happened to lead me on the journey with ham radio? It definitely was an unexpected journey.
I was introduced to radios by some good friends of mine. They were already very experienced operators by the time I had met them and were hosting a weekly net. They encouraged me to get my license. I was curious, so I bought one of Gordon West’s books so I could start studying for the exam. Once I got the book, I realized I only had one month to study and take the test before the question pool would change. So I studied and crammed and I took that test. I didn’t really think I would pass it. To my amazement and excitement, I passed! I anxiously awaited for my call sign and license. KG7MZO. I really like how the O rolls off at the end. Never once have I considered a vanity call sign.
My first radio was a BaoFeng UV-5RE, gifted to me by my good friend Rob. He pre-programmed it and everything!! The radio was ready to go and so was I, but I was scared as shit! What the hell am I doing? I know nothing about this radio in my hand? What if doesn’t work? How do I key up for the first transmission? How do you go about having a conversation on the radio? I didn’t want to mess up. I didn’t want to the say the wrong thing or break some protocol and have some cranky old-timer correct me for everyone to hear. I was intimidated as shit to press the key the first time. So, I waited.
The opportunity to key up came at one of the weekly nets with the Northern Nevada Preppers Group. I had been with the group for about a year and had been listening to the weekly nets via a live internet feed. I loved listening to the conversations, but I so wanted to participate in the conversation. Now, with license and radio in hand, I could finally key up. And so I did. It was nice to have a comfortable and familiar place with people that I knew to be able to get myself acquainted with the learning process. The weeks went by and I was getting more comfortable with my radio.
A few short months later, Ken and Rob approached me and asked if I would be interested in rotating duties as Net Control Operator for the weekly net. WHAT!!!! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!! You want me to do what!! But I still know so little. I have don’t know how to give a proper signal report. I only have this little handheld radio. I’ve only had my license for a few months. I thought these guys were crazy. No. They were serious. So, I said, what the hell. Why not. I’m an adventurous person.
My first couple of nets were a blur. I was nervous, palms sweaty. It was an honor to be asked to sit in as net control, but I didn’t want to let anyone down. Ken has been a wonderful mentor and ever so patient as I stumbled along. It didn’t take very long to start getting comfortable and settled in as a net control operator. I picked things up with ease, and I have a great time bantering with the check-ins each week, still shocked and surprised at how natural net control feels. It’s something that I look forward to every Wednesday.
I also started tagging along with my buddy Vic as he volunteered to work race events with our local ARES organization. Vic taught me a lot about setting up a station in the field. He is always exploring new modes and testing new equipment, so Vic was a huge teacher for me as I started learning the world of ham radios and deploying in the field with ARES. He showed me the ropes and I will always be thankful for Vic taking me under his wings.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve continued to explore and learn. I’ve had a lot of help and support from my friends. I continue to hold my seat in the net control operator station every other week and pick up a few races throughout the year. This year has been a huge turning point for me. The radio bug keeps biting and I want to expand my horizons and begin treading into new radio territory. I have so much to learn as I still feel like a novice. But I look forward to the journey and sharing it with you as I travel this path.