A new group of modular radio enthusiasts have set out to revive amateur radio—or HAM radio—in the CNMI with the purpose of offering voluntary assistance to the community.
According to Cris Francisco Jr., president of the new Radio Amateur Marianas DX that was licensed back in September, the main goal of the club is to offer communication services, especially in times when phone lines become unreliable, such as after typhoons, or in staging large-scale events that demand instant communication, like triathlons.
The club, which currently has over 20 members, was inspired to revive HAM radio following Super Typhoon Yutu when phone lines were unreliable and power was off islandwide with exception of those who had generators.
Since the islands are prone to these disasters, Francisco said that having this kind of communication service could help a lot in getting people the assistance they might need, like aid from the American Red Cross and other organizations that offer humanitarian aid.
Although not everyone can operate a modular radio, everyone can join the group and serve as volunteers, Francisco added. Just as much as the club needs radio operators, more so do they need volunteers to carry out the help community needs.
Francisco explained that although the club is newly formed, it consists of many of the same members of former HAM radio clubs.
“Ham radio has been in the CNMI for years under different organizations that shared a repeater on Mt. Tapochau but, after we lost that repeater, all those organizations were gone. We have been waiting for almost two years, then we organized a new group, we bought a new repeater, and is now introducing it again to the public,” he said.
All radio organizations used to connect to the only one radio repeater on top of Mt. Tapochau, which acted like a service antenna. In 2018, after Super Typhoon Yutu wreaked havoc in the CNMI, that repeater was destroyed, dismantling the numerous radio organizations in the Marianas.
Francisco explained that the Radio Amateur Marianas DX Club took it upon themselves to purchase a new repeater and it is open to all HAM radio operators even if they do not want to be part of the club.
Licensed HAM radio operators who want to utilize the repeater may use the station WH0ACH.
For those who would like to join the club, contact Francisco at 789-4054.
Francisco assures that everyone will be given the opportunity to take an exam to become licensed in operating a HAM radio. For those who just want to offer voluntary help, Francisco said the club is open to those too.