By Alyssa Weston
Youngstown State University Amateur Radio Club’s faculty adviser Gordon Frissora said when people were trying to figure out what was happening on Sept. 11, 2001, he went to the YSU amateur radio shack.
“[I] got on the air and was talking to somebody who was watching the planes fly into the towers. That’s the value of HAM [amateur] radio,” Frissora said.
YSU’s Amateur Radio Club has stood the test of time on campus for nearly two decades because it connects people around the world, especially in times of need.
“Whenever nobody can get through, we can get through,” Frissora, a professor in the department of criminal justice and forensic sciences, said.
Unlike YSU’s student-run internet radio station, Rookery Radio, amateur radio does not require a wire or any infrastructure, just a radio and a license.
Frank Sole, faculty adviser and professor in the department of management, said the difference between the club and Rookery Radio is that Rookery depends on the internet.
“With this little black box here, I can talk to somebody else with another little black box on the other side of the world and there’s nothing that connects us except radio waves,” Sole said.
He said Amateur Radio Club operators need a license or need to be accompanied by someone with a license to transmit. YSU has had great success with the licensing process with a 100% passing rate.
“It’s a federal license, just like WFMJ or WKBN,” he said.
According to Sole, Norm Into donated approximately $10,000 worth of equipment to kick-start the club with one station, but when he died last year, his estate donated approximately $30,000 worth of equipment to the club.
Now the club has more equipment than it has room for in its 10-by-10 space in Moser Hall, but it hopes to move to a new location soon to use the equipment to its full potential.
“What you see looks like a lot of equipment, but this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg,” Sole said.
One of the most influential things Amateur Radio Club members get involved with every year is School Club Roundup, where they compete against universities across the country.
Sole said in the past YSU has beaten “big” universities like Yale University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.
Although Amateur Radio Club is housed in Moser Hall, Sole said the club is for all students, not just STEM majors.
“It goes way beyond a hobby. There’s so many important aspects of it. One of the most important things we do is provide emergency communications. When things go bad, they go bad fast,” Sole said.
Alanis Chew, Amateur Radio Club’s president and senior business, economics and math major, said the club aims to inspire interest in amateur radio.
According to Chew, her initial interest in the club was gained through talking to her adviser and realizing amateur radio’s ability to connect with people all over the world, even astronauts in space.
Chew said the club aims to show the practical use of radio and is planning events for this academic year including a build-your-own radio workshop, tracking a helium balloon and potential field trips to other universities’ radio stations.
Ethan Gill, freshman electrical engineering and computer science major, is a member of the Amateur Radio Club and obtained his license to transmit this past summer.
Gill said the club has helped him get acquainted with what clubs YSU has to offer, and he hopes to help expand the club in the future.
“I feel it’s a really good hobby to get involved in simply because it’s a little bit different. It broadens your knowledge,” he said.
Cutline: YSU’s Amateur Radio Club aims to show students the practical use of radio through hands-on experience