Bobby's Bama: Ham radio operators travel globe over airwaves

Published: Apr. 6, 2012 at 6:48 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2016 at 1:50 PM CDT
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Joseph Christophe talks about being a ham radio operator during times of disaster.
Joseph Christophe talks about being a ham radio operator during times of disaster.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - The weather in Baton Rouge, Louisiana may not be that different from Decatur, Alabama's, but men still like to talk about it, especially if the men are two ham radio operators.

Joseph Lester Christophe and his wife are Katrina evacuees, and he knows how busy a disaster can be for ham radio operators.

Often during disasters, ham radio operators are the only source of communications for a community.

"Maybe they're trying to get a hold of law enforcement, ambulance or something like that, so we go into all the phases of communicating. As far as disasters are concerned, whatever it takes to get people back on their feet," says Christophe.

They moved from Louisiana to Decatur where he fell in with a local group. He is president of the Decatur Amateur Radio Club, and he can enjoy the gift of gab with others.

"One of our main purposes in ham radio is public service, and we have an annual event each June. It's called 'field day,'" said Christophe.

He said this is done without standard electricity. Instead, they use generators.

Christophe said the furthest away he's talked with anyone is Sydney Australia, Africa and other places.

"Once you get to know them, if you talk to them more than one time, they talk about families and hobbies and they would like to get over here or they invite you over, if you ever get over the hospitality is open to you," adds Christophe.

He said he's made a lot of friends over the years.

"I've made friends all over the United States and, occasionally, we get to go to some of these events like Hamfest and stuff like that. And I've finally met a lot of the guys I used to talk to on the radio, and they don't look like what they sound. They never do," laughed Christophe.

He met a friend from North Carolina who he's been talking to for 10 years last year in South Carolina. He says there are other face to face meetings over the years, which he really enjoyed - almost as much as his hobby.

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