The University of Kentucky Amateur Radio Club

The Early Years: A Pictorial History

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It is not really possible for us to truely appreciate the infant state of radio prior to World War I or the isolation people experienced.  Radio communications had only become regulated in 1912.  All communications were in Morse code using spark-gap transmitters.  Wavelengths below 200 meters were the domain of the amateur.  Stations typically used less than 700 watts into poorly designed antennas.  Transmitters were poorly filtered and everything was "homebrewed."  It was considered by most a remarkable feat just to make contact with amateurs in neighboring states or regions of the U.S.

Radio began at UK in 1915.  Ernest Baulch, a young mechanical engineering student from Fulton, Kentucky, was on campus attending classes and giving radio demonstrations to informal groups.  Baulch had been interested in radio since he was a child.  Once he was accused by local clergy of being possessed by the Devil because of his ability to receive messages on a device that was not connected by wire.  Now he was at UK and wanted to form a radio club.

Unfortunately Baulch's radio club was short-lived.  World war broke out, all non-military radio communications were suspended, and the university became a virtual military training camp.  The Army Signal Corps operated a radio station (9YL) at UK during World War I and Baulch spent the war years training recruits at UK to use radio.

After the war, as with all wars since, there was a flood of discharged men returning to college.  Baulch, along with two of these men, Harry D. Brailsford and Allen B. Cammack quickly reorganized the UK Radio Club.  In February, 1919 UK's first radio station received its license and went on the air.  Its call sign was 9YC, a Technical or Training School Station.  These Special stations, as they were called, could best be described as "super" amateur stations.  They could make contacts, pass traffic - do all an amateur station could do - but their operators did not appear to need individual licenses and they could broadcast programming similar to the broadcast stations of later years.

BackForward Copyright © 1997 Harold G. Peach, Jr.  All rights reserved.