Amateur Radio Public Service

This week I would like to use this section of the newsletter to briefly discuss public service opportunities in amateur radio and specifically with EARS.

Public service in amateur radio is a great way to help the community and practice emergency communication skills. It is also a good opportunity to test your radio skills. EARS helps with several public service events annually: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, LibertyFest Parade, Cycle 66, Cowboy Christmas Parade and more. While some events are fairly small and great “starter events” to get your feet wet (St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cowboy Christmas Parade), others are much larger with many more moving parts (LibertyFest Parade and Cycle 66). One of the largest events in the area is the OKC Memorial Marathon where usually around 100 amateurs are needed.

The requirements to help with these events can vary. Most of the time you are able to volunteer even if you have no experience. Just be sure to let us know when you sign up that it is your first time. We will be sure to place you with someone else so that you can learn. A handheld (HT) is frequently sufficient but occasionally a mobile radio may be required on events where you may be stationed a good distance from the repeater.

Typically one or more repeaters will be designated for the event. These will be communicated in advance so you can have time to make sure they are programmed into your radios. It is common to have a primary repeater and at least one backup in case of any issues. Larger events such as the marathon may have repeaters for specific communication such as water and ice or sag vehicles. It is a good idea to test the repeaters prior to the event to ensure you have them programmed correctly. Make sure to ID with your callsign and then the word “testing” as discussed last week.

All of these public service events communicate using a net. If you have listened to or participated in the EARS Monday night information net, these nets are very similar. They are all directed nets where a net control station is in charge and all communication goes through net control. If you need to talk to a specific station, you call net control and ask permission to go direct with that station. Communicating this way keeps all of the traffic orderly. As I stated earlier public service events are good practice for emergency communication. Emergency communication also requires that all of the traffic happens in an orderly manner so that it can be handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This all brings me to another type of net that EARS uses on an as-needed basis: Weather Spotting or Skywarn. When severe weather occurs in the Edmond area you may hear a weather net on the EARS repeaters. During a weather net the net control station will take severe weather reports from around the area. These reports are then sent to the National Weather Service (NWS) and they use the data to help confirm what they see on radar. The NWS spotter program is called Skywarn.

In order to help with the weather net it is highly recommended that you participate in one of the Skywarn training courses. Training details are in the topic below.

Please consider helping with some of the EARS public service events. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is coming up soon and it is a great parade if you have never helped with one before. The signup link is farther down in this newsletter. The OKC Memorial Marathon is coming up in April and they need a large number of amateurs to help. Lastly, please consider taking the Skywarn training so that you will be equipped to help in that way as well.

I would like to leave you with a few links to other websites and a couple of videos that cover these same topics.


Public Service:


ARRL Public Service Info:

Skywarn and Amateur Radio:

If you have any questions about the above info or about anything radio (or EARS) related, feel free to contact us at and we will do our best to help.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *