LISBON — Amateur radio operators from the Androscoggin region and beyond joined together in Beaver Park on Saturday for the Amateur Radio Relay League annual field day.

The Androscoggin Amateur Radio Club is holding the event under the pavilion at Beaver Park until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Amateur radio, or “ham radio,” uses the radio frequency spectrum for personal messages as well as emergency communications, recreation and other noncommercial applications.

AARC is about 100 years old unofficially, but was the first ARL-sanctioned club established in New England, said club Treasurer Michael Bullins. AARC membership was at its height with about 100 operators, but interest waned over the past few years. Now, as the club gains momentum, it boasts about 40 active members and is growing, he said.

“Everybody has their own reasons for being ham operators,” Bullins said. “For me, my father was a ham operator. I was overseas for four years with the company I work for now and I made the determination during COVID to get my license so I could speak with my father … Field day gives everyone the opportunity to experience what ham radio is like.”

Leasa Garvin of Fryeburg searches for a radio frequency Saturday during the Androscoggin Amateur Radio Club Field Day at Beaver Park in Lisbon. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Operators pick up ham radio for many reasons, said AARC Secretary Paul Leonard, who is also deputy director of the Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency. Leonard said he liked the idea of being able to connect with so many different, yet like-minded people across the world, but his wife, Deb, AARC program coordinator, became interested because of ham radio’s implications in emergency services.


Club Vice President Cory Golob obtained his ham radio operating license 28 years ago at the age of 13 and his son Simon, age 9, just obtained his license and has been chatting with people as far away as Tennessee.

“He’s going into fourth grade, so I had to teach him algebra because you need to know it for ohm’s law,” Golob said. “He passed his test first try.”

Simon said he sometimes hops on the radio to talk to locals while he is waiting for the bus to school and everyone has been welcoming.

“It’s so great,” Simon said. “It’s interesting to see how things work, how you put things up and how you talk to people.”

Simon Golob, 9, of Sabattus learns from experienced amateur radio operator Joe Grace of Winslow on Saturday during the Androscoggin Amateur Radio Club Field Day at Beaver Park in Lisbon. Golob received his radio operators license two weeks ago. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

There are nearly 760,000 ham radio operators in the U.S. and about 4,400 in Maine, said Golob. Even if a signal source coming off a distant satellite only gives a window of a few minutes, it is easy to get lost in conversation with other operators.

“Yeah, it’s mostly just, ‘hey, how are you?'” said Golob.

Field day is much more than just coming together to share a hobby, show newcomers the ropes and pique onlookers’ curiosities, Golob said.

“We make sure the generators are running, practice building antennas to FCC standards and putting up antennas at a moment’s notice,” Golob said. “We’ve lost the mysticism of cell phones, but when those go down, people forget that ham radio will still be working.”

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