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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Ham Radio a Thing of the Past? No Way!

On the morning of April 6th, 2024, the Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club (BVARC) will hold a Ham radio demonstration at Bellingham Public Library. Photos used courtesy of BVARC.

By Angie Fitton
Amateur Radio, also known as Ham radio, is believed to be a dying fad by many. That cannot be further from the truth, according to the Head of the Board of Directors for Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club (BVARC), Mickey Callahan. “People think that since we have the Internet and cell phones now, that amateur radio is obsolete, but the hobby has actually grown,” the enthusiast states.  
Mickey built his first radio in the eighth grade and appreciated the project so much that he eventually went on to graduate college with a degree in Electronic Engineering.
Founded in 1953, the BVARC has approximately seventy members, one of whom was a founding member and carries a lot of history under his belt. The members of the club come from all over Blackstone Valley, from Woonsocket, Lincoln, Smithfield and Burrillville, RI to Blackstone, MA and its surrounding towns. Mickey lives in Bellingham, Mass. and says a few other members come from town as well.
April is International Amateur Radio Month. Rain or Shine, on Saturday, April 6th from 9 a.m. until noon, the BVARC will be hosting an educational (and fun!) event at the Bellingham Library located at 100 Blackstone Street. Last year’s event had a great turnout, and one teenaged boy was fortunate enough to speak with a resident of Slovenia in Europe, while others spoke with people in Spain, and of course many throughout the United States.
“You never know who in the world you’ll be speaking with when you sign on,” Callahan states of amateur radio. 
Most folks think that investing in this hobby is pricey. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get involved with amateur radio,” Callahan emphasizes.
You also no longer need to know Morse Code to become involved in the hobby. That requirement was eliminated about twenty years ago. However, using Morse Code has proven to be more beneficial at times than voice communications. Because of the propagation of radio waves, and the way Morse is transmitted, it is actually more accurate and more likely to go through than speaking directly to another person.
Morse Code was invented in the 19th Century by inventor and painter Samuel Morse. “It is simple and easy to learn,” Callahan says. At the event on the 6th, there will be a continuous demonstration of how to use Morse Code, a telegraph key to show how the code is sent as well as a display showing the alphabet and its corresponding codes.
Should you decide to become involved in the Amateur Radio hobby, there are a few things to know. Amateur radio, just like any radio station you’d hear in the car or on a stereo, is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC administers tests to gauge your proficiency in radio operations. An Entry Level person is known as a Technician, then you can test to become a General Operator and finally, to earn all the privileges an amateur radio operator can have, you’d take a test to become Extra. Callahan himself is at the highest level possible.
BVARC is affiliated with the American Radio Relay League (, which is an organization that represents all amateur radio clubs in the United States. The website for BVARC is and holds a plethora of information and insight into the world of amateur radio. If you find you are interested, the club meets at 7 p.m. the last Monday of each month at Our Saviour’s Parish in Woonsocket, RI.