Local Amateur Radio group competes in national contest - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Local Amateur Radio group competes in national contest

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) -  The technology is a century old, but it's still in use today. It's the amateur radio, also known by its nickname "ham radio".

On Saturday, Amateur Radio clubs around the nation connected with one another through the airwaves.  Members of the Mississippi Valley Amateur Radio Club communicated with people on the other side of the country from the parking lot in the Gundersen Health System Onalaska Clinic.

"We're running totally off a generator power here, no commercial power," said Craig Goldbeck, Mississippi Valley Amateur Radio Club  President.

It's part of a 24-hour National Amateur Radio Association contest. The goal is to see how many other radios they can connect with.  On Saturday the club had connected with people as far as California.

The day is also a way to practice communicating during an emergency.  "The idea is to set up where you normally wouldn't have communication and just simulate an emergency. We bring our own antennas, set up camp, and get on the air," said Goldbeck.

Amateur Radio is often used during emergencies because the radios are battery powered and use frequencies that aren't affected during power outages.

Brittany Wiese, 16, has a passion for Amateur Radio, thanks in part to her dad. She said, "There's going to be a day maybe where you'll need this and you won't have cell phones."

If that day comes, these Amateur Radio operators will turn their dials and be the experts we turn to.

Members of the Mississippi Valley Amateur Radio Club will be in the parking ramp at Gundersen in Onalaska until 1 p.m. Sunday.

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