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Native broadcasts own radio show

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Amateur radio frequency owner Jack Patterson searches for frequencies inside of his mobile studio in Natchez Friday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — Jack Patterson was grounding his truck in order to broadcast his radio signal from it when The Dart landed on College Street.

Patterson, a lifelong Natchez native, is an amateur radio aficionado, and judging by his numerous awards, a very good one.

Patterson specializes in distance radio, but enjoys all facets of amateur radio, he said.

“It is an interesting hobby, I just enjoy doing it,” Patterson said.

Patterson has won multiple awards from American Radio Relay League competitions, including the 2009 and 2010 Single Operator Distance Contest. Patterson connected with more than 800 different stations from around the world in a 48-hour span to win the 2009 award, he said.

When asked what makes him so good at the distance competitions, Patterson had a simple answer.

“I guess just because I want to do it,” he said. “(The opponents) may get tired before I get tired. I just enjoy working the (distance competition).”

Patterson has connected with stations as far away as Norway, Saudi Arabia and the Canary Islands, he said.

Patterson attended Sadie V. Thompson High School before going to Alcorn State (then Alcorn College), where he studied technical education, he said. After that he worked for BellSouth for 32 years. He retired in 2003.

It wasn’t until 1986 that Patterson started trying amateur radio, he said.

Patterson’s fascination with radio started when he was a child, listening to 1950s soul and rock and roll hits that were being broadcast from Memphis on the AM radio, he said.

“(I wondered), ‘how in the devil do they get the music all the way from there to here?’”

Patterson did all the prep-work himself, from setting up his station to putting up the 65-foot antennae tower in his yard, where he lives with his wife Annie, he said. Patterson also has his truck set up so he can use it as a mobile station.

Patterson has his Extra Class Amateur Radio License given to him by the FCC, it is the highest amateur radio license you can get.

Patterson said he broadcasts whenever he feels like it, sometimes just to exchange signal information and sometimes to have conversations, he said. But he does have some limits on what he will talk about, he said.

“I don’t talk about politics, and I don’t talk about religion,” Patterson said.

Patterson said there are approximately 50 licensed amateur radio operators in the Miss-Lou.

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