Lawrence has an active amateur radio circuit, with a club boasting 70 members, according to the club’s treasurer.
“It’s just like any other hobby that anybody has,” said Fred Gantz, treasurer of the Douglas County Amateur Radio Club. “For some reason or another, it sparks your mental capacity.”
Kansas University also has a student group dedicated to amateur radio.
Amateur radio users will converse with friends, assist with emergency communications and experiment with technical radio equipment.
And, though many licenses have expired, a list of FCC-approved licenses in the city shows more than 300 people are ham radio operators. Gantz estimated that more than 200 of those licenses were active.
Anyone interested in getting more information can attend any one of the club’s meetings, which are typically held at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Building One at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
The group offers occasional training sessions for the uninitiated, and can help new recruits pass tests to obtain an official FCC license.
And it doesn’t take a big investment to get started. No radio equipment is necessary, Gantz said. As the Internet developed, amateur radio users adapted, and he said several resources online can provide first-time users with the ability to listen to radio traffic and even communicate over long distances using only a laptop computer.
Still, like any hobby, he said, there are opportunities for the very interested to spend considerable sums of money.
When asked how much he had put into the hobby, Gantz politely declined to answer.
“My wife would scalp me,” he said.