If you think back to the 1997 film Contact, you’ll recall a scene where Jodie Foster, playing alien-hunting astronomer Ellie Arroway, lies on her car hood with huge headphones on her ears, in a field of towering white satellite dishes. She’s waiting for something. A signal. She lies still, her eyes closed. And suddenly, she hears something, the sounds of something – someone – beyond the earth, communicating with her.
As you read this, a dead language is flying through the air all around you -- at least, it’s dead for most official uses. It’s the Morse code, a binary digital system that dates back to the 1850s. Among its primary users today are amateur radio operators, better known as hams. I am one of these and am proud to say I’m fluent in Morse. I was texting way, way before it was cool.
Ham radio is a pastime dating back more than a century. Hobbyists built transmitting and receiving equipment long before radio stations, such as KALW, went on the air.
Here at KALW, we're experimenting with a new way of producing radio, and it involves you. It's our new community storytelling initiative, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project, in which we take our microphones to local neighborhoods to listen to your stories.