Utah's amateur radio community is holding the 2016 Great Salt Lake Hamfest this weekend. A Hamfest has not been held in this area for several decades.
Michael and Susan Smith live in a typical Sugarhouse home, but if you look up at the roof, you’ll notice an array of antennas. Every Wednesday night they huddle around one of their many radios to check in to their local Amateur Radio Emergency Service for a kind of practice run known as a net.
“This is Kilo Mike Seven Tango Mike Sierra, Mike in Salt Lake City checking in,” says Michael Smith, otherwise known as KM72MS. He got into ham radio because of his interest in emergency preparedness. “Desire for safety in a neighborhood that’s prepared in a variety of ways that often times can come,” Smith says. “For instance, we live in a very high earthquake hazard area, and these things are serious issues.”
Susan Smith got into it for similar reasons, but for her it’s also social.
“You may come in and hearing someone on the radio, and you go, oh good I’m glad Barbara’s on tonight,” she says. Some are in it purely for fun, or as they say in the ham world, ragchew. “There’s a group in Utah County called the 76ers, they’re a kind of social, ragchew type of group.”
The Hamfest takes place Friday and Saturday at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy. The event includes classes, vendors, and gatherings of special groups like ladies in amateur radio. There will also be a talk by Elder Allan F. Packer of the LDS Church First Quorum of the Seventy. But at the Hamfest, he’s known as WA7BKD.