Man’s radio connects world

Published 12:07 am Monday, March 16, 2009

NATCHEZ — Just one look at Bob King’s plain blue sedan reveals there’s more to it than meets the eye.

And the same goes for his house.

Both the car and house have giant antennas King uses to indulge his ham radio hobby.

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And when The Dart fell on King’s Brookfield Drive residence, King was at his radio making connections a world away.

But King’s radio isn’t the traditional kind used for listening to music.

A ham radio is a wireless communication device that allows its users to talk with each other over radio frequencies, no matter the distance.

“It’s just a lot of fun for me,” King said sitting at his radio desk.

And that desk, near the kitchen, looks like command central for a spaceship.

A stack of radio equipment is connected to a laptop computer, and as King talks, lights blink and voices from somewhere in the world come over the speaker.

To communicate with those voices, King has his own microphone tied into his system.

And when King’s on the radio he’s talking with people on the farthest corners of the globe.

He talks with other ham radio operators in Australia, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

“We just talk about the weather, politics or anything really,” he said.

And King’s fascination with radio started years ago.

King said he was constantly pestering his brother to play with his radio when he was just 5.

“There was something about it that I really liked,” he said.

Later, in college, King began preparations to become a ham operator.

And now that same passion is what keeps him company on his long drive to work each day.

King commutes back and forth from Baton Rouge each day and has a smaller ham model that fits into his car.

“For me it’s very calming,” he said. “It really just helps me to relax.”

But for King the radio is for more than just fun.

He said ham operators are often the first form of communication that can be up and running after a natural disaster.

“It’s good to know it’s there if you need it.”