Here is a short history of the Valdosta Amateur Radio Club and local amateur radio.
According to records the first mention of radio amateurs in the local media was around 1927, but individuals had been experimenting with wireless equipment before then.
Not much is known about the local amateurs during the 1930’s. Probably the Great Depression impacted amateur radio activities during this period.
The actually beginning date for the Valdosta Amateur Radio Club is not known but it was formally recognized as a chartered club by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) on February 20, 1947. After World War II amateur radio activity picked up in the area with most operators being active on the HF bands.
According to club records the club grew and was active in the 1950’s. One of the important characters at the time was involved in pro-wrestling. Club members during this time liked to socialize and enjoyed field day activities.
In the early 1960’s many young folks became radio amateurs because of growing interest in technology and science. The space race had a positive impact upon the club’s growth. Many young folks got their amateur radio license and went on to become engineers and scientists.
In the early 1970’s the big interest was VHF repeaters. The club sponsored its first repeater on 146.760 MHz around the 1975 time frame. Since cellphones did not yet exist the local repeater was very popular, especially its phone patch. This was a great time of experimentation with new radio technology and antennas.
The 1980’s saw continued growth and support of the repeater systems. During this time many technological improvements were made and the club also added the 444.700 MHz repeater. With the advent of computers the club also installed its first packet radio digi-repeater system. One of the local club members early in the decade was able to setup up a contact with the space shuttle for local youth. The club as a whole was very active in many areas during the 1980’s, especially on field days.
With the advent of the internet and cellphones in the 1990’s area amateurs began to integrate these new technologies into their lives and activities. The internet really had a great impact on the growth of ham radio and the club during this time because of its ability for faster communication among the members. Club membership grew and activity was stable during this time.
After the year 2000 the VARC really began to gather steam in membership. This was a very active time because many of the members were Air Force personnel stationed at Moody AFB. But activity began to slow late in the decade due to the poor economy and members having to move from the local area.
Recently the club received a grant of D-Star equipment and activity and interest is picking up again. So it looks like in the decade after 2010 that amateurs in the area will really be moving into the digital radio age. The legacy continues…