Riding the Sound Waves: Amateur Radio Receives Good Reception


Jake Matz, Staffer

The LASA Amateur Radio club earned another first place victory in the School Club Roundup, a local high school radio competition. The club has competed every year since its formation in 2004 and has won six times. 

West Plowman is a sophomore at LASA who joined the club with his friends this year. He first learned about the club after seeing their table at the club fair.

“I first joined radio club because it seemed like an interesting way to understand what communication was like before phones or any of the other technologies that have been created,” Plowman said.

Students were required to learn about the radio and its operation before the competition took place. During the competition, students were challenged to make as many connections as possible with other radio stations and record them in their logs over the span of a week.

“I participated in the competition, which competed against high schools across the nation,” Plowman said. “It was exciting to win it because this competition was the largest competition I have ever been a part of. I had only been in radio club for a few months and winning the competition was surreal.”

Although the club has been around since 2004, all but two of the current members started this year. The team has already mastered the use of the radio and communications for the competition and will be ready for next year. 

“I hope to continue to learn about the radio and its functions,” Plowman said. “I hope to earn my radio license so that I am able to make contacts without the supervision of another with a license. And I hope to continue the LASA tradition of winning the competition next year.”

Sophomore Davis Palmer also joined the club this year. He has had a similar experience in the club and participated in the competition as well.

“During lunch, on the club fair day, my friends and I were strolling by the Amateur Radio Room and we came across a man named Kyle,” Palmer said. “He showed us how he made a small morse code transceiver that he built.”

Although these members found Amateur Radio through the club fair, they have stayed because of activities like the School Club Roundup, and ham, which is a term for amateur radio operation.

“In Amateur Radio Club, we do a multitude of activities, from learning about how a radio works, to actually being hands on with a radio talking to someone halfway across the globe,” Palmer said. “It is always super fun. With Mr. Risinger and Mr. Fisher teaching us the information needed to obtain an Amateur Radio Technician License, you are never left bored.”

Every new team attempts these competitions, but according to Palmer, the experience itself was more rewarding than earning first place.

“Winning the competition was great, but actually being involved when we made 605 contacts from all over the globe was absolutely baffling,” Palmer said. “In the future, I am planning on getting my Technician License and advancing my knowledge over radio technology. I enjoy the club and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested.”

Amateur radio clubs across the globe gather for the event, and it connects a community with shared interests. Mr. Risinger, the teacher and creator of LASA’s Amateur Radio Club, said he was proud to win another competition.

“LASA students are very at ease on the radio,” Risinger said. “So-called ‘mic fright’ dissipates quickly. As such, students can be professional, courteous and kind, while also communicating with others at a rapid pace. And, attention to details is important too. In a competition, obtaining certain information from those with whom you make contact is important. The ability of a student to identify missing information and quickly obtain it is important.”

Risinger said Amateur Radio requires communication skills, but students find an easier time behind a mic. According to Risinger, students are not just learning how to use the radio, but how to talk with the person on the other end in these competitions.

“In the end, being a good example of a skilled radio operator includes being friendly to those you meet,” Risinger said. “It also represents LASA very well on the air. We certainly don’t want people around the U.S. and world to hear our Club members being so aggressive in contests that we appear rude toward others.”

Now that students have won one competition, they’ve already set new goals for the club and themselves. Amateur Radio Club has been around for over a decade but is still growing every year, and Risinger said he is excited to see what the future holds for Amateur Radio club members.c

“After becoming comfortable communicating through satellites, club members hope to make and attempt to bounce signals off the Moon,” Risinger said. “Finally, club members are preparing to get their ham radio licenses. The journey of exploration in ham radio is endless, and Mr. Fisher [the Club’s mentor] and I hope that [LASA radio station] K5LBJ members will carry that spirit with them into the future.”