a teen radio club is helping people contact family in puerto rico

K2GSG radio station is rediscovering old-school radio for the best reason.

by Hannah Ongley
|
Oct 3 2017, 4:50pm

still via youtube

Most of us who grew up in the age of the iPhone would probably hear "ham license" and think of glazed pork rather than an old-school amateur radio permit. Transmitting messages via ham radio networks can take decades to master. But in the wake of wide-scale disasters like hurricanes, they're often the only way to get messages to friends and family.

A teen radio club at Garden School in Queens, New York, is using the archaic equipment to communicate with people in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, DNAinfo reports. Just send a note to the club's email address — k2gsg@gardenschool.org — and they'll relay it to the Caribbean Island. The actual dial-twiddling process is a bit more complex, as evidenced by a video of one of K2GSG radio's ham-licensed transmissions wizards.

95% of Puerto Rico's electrical grid was wiped out when Hurricane Maria made landfall two weeks ago. The power is expected to remain out for months, but even if the cell towers and power outlets were operational, the air traffic overload would make iPhones pretty useless anyway.

"There is not a better feeling than being able to make someone smile," said Lea Medina, one of the few students permitted to transmit messages on her own, "or make sure that they feel safe."

Radiograms are generally limited to 25 words or less. They also have to be sent via ham radio operators in Florida before someone in Puerto Rico can accept the transmission. But people are working to expand the service to send messages to anyone on the island working a radio. It makes you feel very lucky to be able to communicate with your loved ones using emoji.