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Hammin' it up
Amateur radio day set for Saturday
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County amateur radio enthusiast John Manton is a man on a mission -- and a microphone.
"My mission is to bring as many new ham radio operators into the hobby as I can," Manton said.
While some may say there's little room left on airwaves, Manton looks forward to introducing newcomers to amateur radio at Saturday afternoon's annual Amateur Radio Field Day at the Cumming Fairgrounds.
"It's like on the lake," he said. "People say, 'I got my dock. Now, let's do away with docks. There's too many of them.'"
"We always get excited this time of year," said event organizer Jerry Adams, adding that he's expecting about 100 enthusiasts and newcomers combined at this year's festivities.
Adams and Manton, both members of the Forsyth County Amateur Radio Service, have 100 years of combined radio experience. "Hams" since childhood, both speak with excited fervor as they discuss the jargon and the depth of the hobby.
The National Association for Amateur Radio encourages local radio organizations to participate in field day, which is held across the country every year in the last weekend of June.
According to Manton, the idea is to use only basic power supplies to construct emergency stations as a kind of practice session for when actual emergencies occur.
Adams touted the reliability of amateur radios. "When all else fails," he said. "Ham works."
According to Manton, there's three levels of amateur radio: Technician, which is a beginning level; general class, which is one step up; and finally, the extra class.
Manton and Adams both operate at the extra class level. But they said it's always a pleasure to watch somebody get on the ham radio microphone for the first time at field day.
"It's free and everybody's welcome to come and get on the air," Manton said.
Many who try it for the first time get a mild case of "mic fright."
Then again, Manton said those who have been on the radio for as long as he has will go on the air and comfortably talk about the weather or who went to the hospital last week.
"It's called rag chewing," Manton said. "I'll get on the air and talk about just about anything, but I avoid religion and politics like in most conversations."
Manton said there's an unspoken conduct code on the air that suggests you "don't say anything you wouldn't tell your mother, and that keeps it decent."
Adams said children often come to the event and get excited about talking on the air.
"Kids love it," Adams said. "It's an ancient and new hobby for all ages."
For more information about the field day, go online at