The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) is the largest amateur radio group in the United States. ARRL "advocates" for amateur radio before the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and the United States Congress. Their mission is to support the hobby in the United States and to protect the frequencies allocated to amateur radio in the US and around the world.


Every amateur radio operator should be a member of ARRL, but membership is not a requirement when joining the ARES A.L.E.R.T. group in Lee County.

Why Ham Radio Exists

by Bill Niemuth KB9ENO


Perhaps you have wondered why Amateur Radio exists. Is it because it is a wonderful, fun-filled hobby a small percentage of the population cannot live without? Or is it the tremendous source of technological breakthroughs it provides society? Could it be it exists so contests can thrive and hams can chase DX from exotic islands in the South Pacific?

     To understand why it exists, we need to look no farther than the first section of Part 97 of the FCC Regulations entitled Amateur Radio Service, Basis and Purpose Sect 97.1 Basis and purpose. The rules and regulations in this Part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. Amateur Radio is almost always referred to as a hobby, except in FCC Part 97, where it really counts with the U.S. Congress. Particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. That is a powerful phase, which unfortunately falls on deaf ears to 90 percent of the Amateur Radio community. That is correct, only 10 percent of Wisconsin hams are ARES/RACES members, which is about the average percentage of hams in the U.S. who are actively involved the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Today, radio spectrum is tremendously valuable. The ARRL lobbies on our behalf to keep the spectrum we have and to fight, at times, to get more. With a few megahertz selling for billions of dollars, this is an uphill battle. The only way we will continue to win is to be a national resource when it comes to emergency communications. Supporting the Amateur Radio Emergency Service is supporting the future of the Amateur Radio Service. If you don't think so, contact your elected official and ask him why ham radio exists. If they know anything about ham radio they will probably say, "It is because hams communicate in disasters." In order to be impactful in that service we need to build networks designed for emergency communications, plan for communication emergency contingencies and train with our served agencies. Emergency communications may not be for you, but please support your brothers and sisters who do provide them and help keep our national resource -- the Amateur Radio Service.


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