Jonestown and Ham Radio

WB6MID/8R3 1978 Jonestown, Guyana (credit:K9RHY,

The Jonestown mass murder in 1978 is viewed as the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11. Prior to this, amateur radio was used by the Peoples Temple to maintain communications from Guyana to San Francisco and Georgetown. Their use however raised concerns with other hams due to obvious rule violations made by Temple operators. Some ham operators took action by recording these QSOs and filed complaints with the ARRL and FCC.

These recordings were finally transcribed in 2003 by Josef Dieckman at the request of the Jonestown Institute. He has written two articles about his experiences: “QSL cards provide insight into Temple radio communications” and “Listening to Jonestown”.

Here is an excerpt:

The FCC tapes number 1-24, covering dates in 1977 and 1978, and are in no particular order. I began with a group of four tapes, and what I heard only reinforced what I had already been told about the nature of the material on them: they were coded and secretive ham radio communications. When I began listening to the first tape (FCC #3) I found nothing odd about it. Two men, thousands of miles apart, exchanged part numbers for appliances like freezers and refrigerators. I kept waiting for the blatant rule infractions like obvious business traffic and coded talk. But on first blush, everything sounded on the level. At times, some obvious mistakes came through, such as the botching of call signs, which occurred more than once. This aside, nothing struck me as too odd. However, as I worked transcribing the other tapes, my suspicions grew, and suddenly things began appearing odd and inconsistent. The “code” began to emerge, and although I had no idea what it all meant (and I’m still struggling with it), I knew it sounded peculiar.

Ten New Hams

We just completed our first 2-day Technician level class and out of 13 students, we would like to welcome 10 new amateur radio operators. We hope they enjoy their new privileges and become active in their communities.

One of the guest presenters in the class was Cathy Goodrich KK4IWN. She spoke about the Community Emergency Response Team and important emergency preparedness tips. A PDF copy of her presentation along with the YouTube video she showed is included here.

The video shows an interview with Gary Pearce KN4AQ. A recording follows of an emergency communication that passed between several ham radio operators. The message requested law enforcement help for New Orléans Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina.


USS LST-325 Memorial Event

USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading
USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading (credit: Wikipedia)

The USS LST-325 (Landing Ship, Tank) will arrive in Nashville on Sept. 17th and will be open for the day after it has been inspected by the Coast Guard. It will be docked at the Metro Riverfront Park (map) and departs for Clarksville on Sept. 25th. The ship’s current location can be tracked via GPS after Sept. 15th.

The Radio Room of the USS LST-325 will be available for licensed amateur radio volunteers and is a great opportunity to work with vintage radio equipment. If you would like to volunteer to work the USS LST-325 Memorial Event, complete the following form to notify Jerry Hedgcoth KE4ETY of your availability.

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Information Net for July 30

Ham Radio Operators Stay Tuned In

Amateur radio
Amateur radio (credit: ines saraiva)
by Jane Courtney
Special to The Sonoma Valley Sun


Whether it’s ravaging floods, raging fire or a devastating earthquake, vital information will be passed along to emergency personnel and the public when amateur radio operators power up their communication system.

In Sonoma Valley, there is a group of dedicated volunteers at the ready. Within three hours of an emergency, they are trained to find a radio signal and start transmitting news of rescue operations, evacuations, damaged roadways, and status of food, water and medical supplies, among other information.

The Valley of the Moon Amateur Radio Club (VOMARC) has about 50 local members, all licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate high, ultra high and very high frequency radios (including Morse code) to assist in disasters.

“The idea of emergency preparedness is that in a disaster, ham radio operators would be your communication,” Jones said. The more prepared they are, he said, the better the chances of providing life-saving information.

Members stay sharp by taking part in field-day drills, like the one held recently in Eldridge on a hilly location known as Camp Via.

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Canadian Special Event Stations

national Flag of Canada
National flag of Canada (credit: Wikipedia)

There are a couple of Canadian Special Event stations that everyone may like to work.

  • CG3B is operated by Niagara Peninsula ARCmembers from July 01 – 31, 2012 to celebrate the 200th Bi-Centennial of Friendship between Canada and the United States of America. Their published frequencies are:
    • 80 m – 3.718.12
    • 40 m – 7.018.12, 7.118.12, 7.218.12
    • 20 m – 14.018.12, 14.118.12, 14.218.12, 14.318.12
    • 17 m – 18.118.12
    • 15 m – 21.018.12, 21.118.12, 21.218.12, 21.318.12, 21.418.12
    • 12 m – 24.918.12
    • 10 m – 28.018.12, 28.118.12, 28.218.12, 28.318.12, 28.418.12, 28.518.12
    • 6 m – 50.018.12, 50.118.12
  • VA3CWM, operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in celebration of their 40th anniversary. They mentioned that they are often on 20 meters on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Jerry KE4ETY recommends the web site when chasing DX. “[You can] just log on and follow the links to do DX searches by callsign.”

Information Net for June 4

Hamvention History


Dayton Hamvention 2012Where it all started…Since 1952 Hamvention® has been sponsored by Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA). For many years it has been the world’s largest amateur radio gathering, attracting hams from throughout the globe. About 1950, John Willig, W8ACE, had asked the Dayton Amateur Radio Association to sponsor a HAM Convention but was turned down. John wanted to have a quality affair. Speakers and prizes would be a drawing point. John finally found a champion in Frank Schwab, W8YCP (W8OK), the newly elected president of the club. A meeting was held and the DARA Board allocated $100 to get started. The first organizational meeting was held in January 1952. The Southwestern Ohio Ham-vention was born. The first committee consisted of: John Willig, W8ACE, General Chairman Al Dinsmore, W8AUN, Arrangements Bob Siff, W8QDI (K4AMG), Prizes and Exhibits Frank Schwab, W8YCP (W8OK), Publicity Bob Montgomery, W8CUJ, Finance Clem Wolford, W8ENH, Program Ellie Haburton, W8GJP (W4ZVW), Women’s Committee. The next year the name became “Dayton Hamvention®” and was registered as a trademark.

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The World of Amateur Radio

In this vintage 16mm film from ARRL, Dick Van Dyke and Roy Neal K6DUE (SK) present the virtues of amateur radio. It was shot in 1979 and gives an idea how amateur radio was viewed and used at that time. Roy Neal, a TV personality/producer and an NBC News correspondent was joined by other celebrity hams including Barry Goldwater K7UGA (SK), King Hussein JY1 (SK) and Arthur Godfrey K4LIB (SK).

This was produced by Dave Bell, W6AQ. At the end of the movie, he made a very personal commentary on some behind the scenes info on the making of the film. A biography of him can be found at

What Amateur Radio Means To Me

On an afternoon in Montana, a chance encounter on 10 meters has Tomas, NW7US involved in an amazing story. He tells this story and how this experience along with amateur radio means to him.

His story: What Amateur Radio Means To Me

Perhaps we can all reflect how amateur radio has affected us, enriched our lives, or allowed us to make new friends.

Introduction to Amateur Radio – 1999

The Raleigh Amateur Radio Society (RARS) produced in 1999 a video that showed an introduction to ham radio. While there have been changes since then, such as elimination of the Morse Code requirement, it gives a glimpse on the state of amateur radio at that time.


The video was posted by Gary Pearce (KN4AQ) who is a regular contributor on the TWiT Ham Nation Netcast. From the video description, he writes:

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