CBC news story: "Like 'human hair in the ocean': Why ham radio still has an enduring appeal"

The following article was written for CBC Newfoundland by Paul Colbourne, a film and video producer now living back home in Newfoundland. His career spans 30 years and he has won and been nominated for several awards, included a 1998 Gemini for best information segment in a current affairs show. In the article, he interviews David Parsons, VO1COD and Larry Horlick, VO1FOG, about being an Amateur Radio operator in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Please see the complete story at: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/amateur-radio-1.4968865?cmp=rss

CBC News item January 27: Why Ham Radio is still
An excerpt from a story by Paul Colbourne:

David Parsons, VO1COD and Larry Horlick, VO1FOG, both belong to BARK — the Baccalieu Amateur Radio Klub — which operates in the Conception Bay north area. The club holds an annual field day every year where about a dozen local operators use only generated power to make contact with hundreds of other operators worldwide.

Larry Horlick still marvels when he thinks about what happens when he turns on his ham radio.

I’m taking my voice and that radio is converting it into an electrical signal and the amount of electrical energy that he is receiving is so minuscule,” said Horlick, a Coley’s Point resident who is one of a group of radio enthusiasts in Conception Bay North.

“It is like a human hair in an ocean and that fascinates me to this day.”

David Parsons first got the bug for Amateur Radio when he received a pair of walkie-talkies as a child. 

Amateur Radio was around for nearly a century before the internet, and to this day is the only form of communication that does not depend on a network.

Even in a world of smartphones, Facebook and texting, ham radio still holds a mystique for many people. More than two million people around the world still use the technology. Of the estimated 40,000 users in Canada, as many as 1,500 live in Newfoundland and Labrador.

An Amateur Radio user can connect with anyone practically around the world. The only countries that do not allow Amateur Radio operators are North Korea and Yemen.

However, this hobby has a serious side as well.

In the event of natural disasters or other emergencies — when more conventional forms of communication go down — Amateur Radio operators are called on to help.

In the summer of 2017, for example, damage to fibre optic cables meant that internet and phone services failed in much of Atlantic Canada.

Parsons and other Amateur operators helped keep communications open. They were on alert to help ambulances and other emergency personnel locate people in distress or to just relay information from one station to another.

After an earthquake struck Nepal, Amateur Radio operators relayed requests for help around the world.

Cut by construction: details emerging about why the lines went dead in Atlantic Canada: see https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/telus-bell-phones-down-atlantic-canada-1.4235228

‘Perfect storm’ of cable cuts led to Atlantic cell outage, says Bell Aliant: see https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/bell-aliant-cable-cut-outages-cell-service-blackout-1.4248111