Preserving amateur radio

A former downtown Arlington businessman, John Lanier spends his mornings on a stationary bicycle chatting with friends via amateur radio.

A former downtown Arlington businessman, John Lanier spends his mornings on a stationary bicycle chatting with friends via amateur radio.

His retirement project is to preserve the system, which he believes is under threat.

“I got interested in it way back in high school, but was never able to master the code,” Lanier told The Arlington Times recently.

He finally figured it out in 1995, not long before closing his TV repair shop in downtown Arlington. He repaired TVs since 1964.

“I was located in the building between Broosters and the hardware store that Mike Jones now owns,” Lanier said.

After closing the shop he continued TV repair services out of his house on Highland Drive. Now he is completely out of the TV business and totally focussed on radio. He joined the Stanwood-Camano Amateur Radio Club in 1995 after getting his license, which took about six weeks after he finally conquered the code.

Now Lanier is helping teach several amateur radio classes offered by SCARC.

Although this fall’s license class is nearing completion, they will offer another class in the spring. Along with the license class, they also offer a beginning class and a technician class.

“Stanwood High School students who pass the technician class license test are then qualified to apply for the Herb Katzenberger memorial scholarship,” said the other teacher, John Keefe.

Lanier said the radio hobby is a natural for him.

“I was always interested in radio,” he said, adding he was a short-wave listener before getting into amateur radio, and with his knowledge of the electronics business, it was a perfect fit.

Part of the appeal for Lanier is being able to help in emergency situations.

“Our club was involved in relocating residents at Josephine senior home when there was a toxic gas leak,” Lanier said.

Once he relayed an emergency call from a farmer in Oregon who needed help moving his cattle during a flood and he noted it was an amateur radio buff in Montana that helped rescue a stranded hiker here in Washington recently.

“Our mission is to preserve the system in case of a major disaster,” Lanier said. Due to the abundance of cell phones and the Internet, there is a threat of selling the frequencies for popular use.

“All the new technologies could go down in a major earthquake,” he said. “Our mission is to keep this system in place in case the others don’t work.”

He also enjoys the camaraderie with people who share a similar interest. He has traveled as far as Oregon, Montana and British Columbia to visit people he has met on the radio. Club members often visit other regional clubs and events, such as the HAM Fest, an annual gathering of amateur radio buffs, where there is a swap meet and sale.

“There’s always something new to learn,” said Lanier.

“John is a wealth of technical information for the club members,” said fellow club member, John Keefe.

“We hope the class graduates will join the club,” Lanier said. “Some do, some don’t.”

For information call John Lanier (KC7GFL) 360-435-2359 or John Keefe (W7PCK) at 360-629-9234.