By Blake Herzog
Don Bauer is the first to admit he likes to talk. This trait has helped him earn a lifetime membership in the Yavapai Amateur Radio Club (YARC).
His hobby, also known as ham radio, allows the Prescott Valley resident to talk to people across the surface of the globe, and sometimes beneath: “I was talking to a guy just a couple of years ago, and I said, ‘You know what, what’s the weather look like where you’re at?’’’
And he started to laugh. “Well,” he says, “my radio is located about 20 feet below the surface of the San Francisco Bay. I’m on a museum submarine.” His antenna was above the water, but he wasn’t.”
Bauer (call sign: WB7TPH) is a past president and one of about 300 active members of YARC, the backbone of Greater Prescott’s amateur radio club community since 1991. It helps members get licensed, connects members wanting to share information, and provides support for authorities during public events and emergency response.
The radio wave technology behind amateur radio has been around since the dawn of the 20th century and is its greatest strength because it doesn’t get shut down by power outages or other issues. YARC is designated a Special Service Club by ARRL, the national association for amateur radio licensees.
“The FCC refers to ham radio as a service, and they expect that we can have fun out there, but if they need us to back up, for instance, Yavapai County Emergency Services, we have members who are there to help. They can get online with emergency services and provide backup communications,” he says.
Members have helped find injured hikers deep in the forest and towed a portable antenna out to Bagdad to help during an extended power outage. They also assist authorities during events like the Whiskey Row Off-Road, Whiskey Road Marathon and the World’s Oldest Rodeo®.
Bauer says interest in amateur or ham radio is growing, and YARC holds several events for members and potential future members annually, including field days and the Prescott Hamfest. For more information visit the club at www.w7yrc.org.