Saturday, April 18, is World Amateur Radio Day (WARD), this year marking the 95th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). Around the world, amateur radio special event stations — most sponsored by IARU member-societies — will mark the event on the air, starting on April 18 at 0000 UTC and continuing until April 19, at 0000, honing skills and capabilities while enjoying global friendship with other amateurs worldwide. The theme for WARD is “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society.” IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, notes that the COVID-19 pandemic casts the event in a different light than in years past.
“A few short weeks ago, many of us could not imagine the levels of isolation that we are now dealing with and the sacrifices of many on the front lines of the pandemic,” Ellam said. “As we have done in past challenges to our society, amateur radio will play a key part in keeping people connected and assisting those who need support.”
Ellam said he’s coming off his own 14-day isolation after returning from overseas. “I am touched by the kindness of strangers who assisted me when I was unable to leave my house,” he said. “It strikes me amateur radio operators, who give so much during these times of crisis are not limited to assisting over the air. Amateurs are true volunteers, and I would encourage everyone to assist in the community as they are able to.”
On April 18, 1925, the IARU was formed in Paris, with ARRL cofounder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, in attendance. Radio amateurs were the first to discover that shortwave spectrum could support worldwide propagation, and in the rush to use these shorter wavelengths, amateur radio found itself “in grave danger of being pushed aside,” as IARU history puts it. Two years later, at the International Radiotelegraph Conference, amateur radio gained allocations still recognized today — 160, 80, 40, 20, and 10 meters. From an initial 25 countries, the IARU has grown to include 160 member-societies in three regions.
How to Participate
World Amateur Radio Day is not a contest but an opportunity to talk about the value of amateur radio to the public and our fellow amateur colleagues. It is also a great opportunity to talk about your club and amateur radio in local media.
In this time of social isolation, amateur radio continues to remain relevant in bringing people together. “Social distancing” has long been a positive practice in the hobby by bringing people together culturally through radio while providing essential communication in the service of communities.
“My wish for this World Amateur Radio Day is for everyone to stay safe, follow the advice of medical professionals and use amateur radio and your skills to help us through this crisis,” Ellam said.