At Age 10, Trenton Girl Is Among Youngest Ham-Radio Operators

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When many kids her age are learning texting abbreviations such as ROFL or IYKWIM ("if you know what I mean"), 10-year-old Sierra Saylors is focused on KK4RJW.

That's her call sign, the collection of numbers and letters issued by the FCC that identifies her as a legitimate ham-radio operator. 

On the air you may hear a timid “KK4RJW, CQ?" know that it is spoken with a big, hopeful smile.

Sierra is thought to be the youngest ham-radio operator in Northwest Georgia. 

Although ham radios may seem outdated in an era of smartphones and Twitter, hobbyists remain devoted to their frequencies, enjoying the chance for random chatter while standing by to use the airwaves in an emergency.

Sierra wanted to join her parents; father, David WK4DS and mother Teresa KG4WHE, as amateur radio operators. After Sierra saw her father work a ham in Russia with Morse code, she was primed to get her ticket, FCC amateur radio license.  She studied for a month and passed the Federal Communications Commission's required technician-license this week with flying colors.

Recent years have seen a huge revival in the interest in amateur radio, said Allen Pitts, spokesman for the American Radio Relay League, a national ham-radio group. "We were the first social media, and ham radio has had a three-year growth spurt in the number of new licensees, now with almost 700,000 in the U.S.," Mr. Pitts said.

As recent events, like the 2011 tornadoes in Dade county, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the bombing in Boston, when the common modes of communication rapidly failed, Amateur radio was there to provide the much needed communication.

Sierra's venture into ham radio grew partly out of an interest in helping others through calamities; she is a member of the Dade ARES group. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.

Sierra is a star honor roll student in the fifth grade at Davis Elementary School. Her father stated, “she is always hungry to learn new things so I got her a study guide. It took her about a month of study time (during softball season no less).”

After passing the technician test, and taking a short break from studying to go swimming some, she will be working on getting her general license. The general license will allows her to communicate on a wider array of frequencies, and potentially with ham-radio operators around the world. 

The general license exam includes some questions on electronics and engineering, is a harder test to pass, but Sierra is up for the challenge. 

Sierra and her parents are active in Dade ARES group and will be on the air at the Amateur Radio Field Days at Cloudland Canyon State Park on the weekend of June 22 and 23.

Dade ARES - The Dade ARES group was formed in 2013 by local citizens after the communication failures that occurred during the tornado outbreak in April 2011. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service consists of licensed amateurs who have volunteered their time and equipment, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. This Dade ARES group is for amateur radio operators that would like to take part in emergency and special event communications in the Dade County.

Local HAMs consider checking in during the weekly net, 7 p.m. Thursdays, on 146.595 MHz simplex.  Join them the last Friday of the month,  at 7 p.m. at the sheriff's office in Trenton. Hams and non-Hams are welcome to attend the meetings.


This Week In The Arts

This week in the Arts:  Special Events      The Jazzanooga Jazz Festival continues throughout the month of April and includes events such as Lalah Hathaway and Ruben Studdard in concert on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre, and a JazzWalk 2014 Parade on Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on MLK Boulevard. For a full schedule of events, please visit www.jazzanooga.org ... (click for more)

Road Closure For Tree Removal

The 2900 block of Westside Drive, between South Crest Road and East 29th Street, will be closed on Friday from noon until 4 p.m. for an emergency tree removal. (click for more)

Berke Names Fred Fletcher, Of Austin, Tex., New Chattanooga Police Chief

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that Fred Fletcher of Austin, Tex., is his pick for Chattanooga Chief of Police. With 20 years of experience in law enforcement, Mr. Fletcher has served in an executive, command, or supervisory role for 12 years.  As commander in Region III of the Austin Police Department, Mr. Fletcher spearheaded community initiatives including a drug market ... (click for more)

Child, 23 Months, Found Dead In Crib With Fentanyl Patch On Back; Death Ruled Homicide

A 23-month-old Chattanooga boy has been found dead in his crib with a Fentanyl patch on his back. The death of Demarcus Bryant at 7655 Borris Dr. last month was ruled a homicide. An autopsy report says he died from "Fentanyl patch placed by someone else." Chattanooga Police are investigating. No one has yet been charged. The child was found face down in his crib. ... (click for more)

A Slap In The Face To Local Police Applicants

Little Andy has once again shown what he thinks about the Chattanooga Police Department by ignoring all the applicants from within the department. There were several great candidates within the police department that had as much experience as the chosen one from 1,000 miles away. This is a slap in the face for any officer who is at the Chattanooga Police Department who has aspirations ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Northwestern Players Vote

The National Labor Relations Board, 0-1 this week after the United Auto Workers cancelled a hearing one hour before it was to begin in Chattanooga, has another chance for a last-minute finish today. In what will be under a more harsh light, the Northwestern University football team is expected to vote on whether to become a union Friday morning. Yesterday afternoon there remained ... (click for more)