McKean County EMCOMM to Offer Amateur Radio Technician License Course

Carole and Steve McNall relax at home with their ham radio equipment. Credits: Rich Lee

SMETHPORT, PA. – Sometimes, an amateur can do a lot.

Ham radio operators, for instance, can do a variety of community-service tasks, noted Carole McNall, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University and a holder of the general license for amateur radio users.

McNall, who lives in Olean, recalled a recent radio network conversation between operators. “They were going to help coordinate traffic at the Santa Claus arrival in Jamestown,” she said. “They have coordinated traffic at races and things, and I suspect the same would happen about the time we get a slightly more organized group around here.”

Sign Up for E-News

That “slightly more organized group” was scheduled to meet for the first time the week before Christmas at the McKean County Emergency Management Agency, 17175 Route 6.

And, starting Jan. 21, the agency’s EMCOMM Team will offer a five-Saturday course to help interested people obtain an Amateur Radio Technician license. Classes will meet through Feb. 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a review and test March 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The class will be free, but $20 fee will be charged for the textbook. Interested parties must register for the class by Dec. 28 by contacting Bruce A. Manning at Because of limited spots in the class and the need to order textbooks, RSVPs are required. 

McNall explained that the technician license is the lowest of three amateur radio grades: “There is technician, there is general, and there is amateur extra. The license you have indicates how much of the amateur radio band you can play on.”

Manning said obtaining the technician license is not difficult.

 “There are several publications available and online practice test to see if you are ready for the real test,” he explained. “You don't need to be a electronic engineer, just a desire to learn. By having the class taught by seasoned amateurs we can give a lot of one-on-one help to the students.”

Steve McNall, who is married to Carole McNall, completed the Amateur Radio Technician course early this year. Because "the weather held out," he said he did not find the commute between Olean and Smethport to be at all difficult. He described the course itself as "available and at a convenient time and not a long distance from most anyplace in general area."

He added, "One gets chance to actually learn about ham radio rather than learning questions and answers to questions. And the price is right."

The book  provided "fairly good reference," said McNall, adding that his wife, who did not take the course, used the book to before taking her licensing exam.

Carole McNall pointed out that amateur radio interaction is different from what she does hosting her weekly show on the university's campus radio station, WSBU 88.3 The Buzz.

“The amateur radio service is not the same as broadcasting,” she said. “A couple of people know how much I love playing around The Buzz. They are like ‘oh, well…’ No, it is a different deal. In fact, explicitly by the FCC rules, you are not a broadcaster. You are not aiming to put music out there. It is maybe an older form of a cell phone, but you can also invite multiple people into your conversation.”

Carole McNall added that becoming a part of the amateur network is easier today than it had been in the past.

“It used to be that learning Morse code was required to get an amateur radio license,” McNall said. “It no longer is, which is the reason both people in my household have them.”

The benefits for getting a license and potentially starting a club go farther than just simply having fun, according to McNall.

The ultimate goal of the course and club is community outreach.

“To provide a trained group of radio amateurs to assist the served agencies, also it is a lot of fun,” Manning said. “We do all kinds of activities, including operating from home or in the field, or from your car. We do contests, lots of them in many different modes including digital, SSB (single sideband) and of course CW or Morse Code.”

Carole McNall said, “I hope to bring up the visibility of ham radio to people that maybe have not heard of it. I would love to see it eventually be [visible enough] that maybe some younger people would go ‘oh hey, that looks like fun.' ”


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

After a 46-year absence, I'm Still at Home on Bona Radio

A timeworn idiom asserts that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.  As a retired guy, floating around in my mid-sixties, I easily qualify as an “old dog.” But since September I’ve been doing a weekly radio show on St. Bonaventure University’s radio station, WSBU FM, 88.3, the Buzz, and I’m thinking that perhaps that old negative phrase can be turned into a ...

Self-Defense Empowers Women

Real estate agent Mary Stachowicz fears becoming a victim of violence.

Why? Because she shows houses to groups of men by herself.

Stachowicz voiced those fears after the Jan. 27 “Beyond Self Defense Seminar” she attended at AKT Combatives Academy in Olean. And she said she believed that in order to overcome this fear, it would be valuable to learn self-defense.

“My son ...

The Story of Punxsutawney Phil

With Groundhog Day landing on Friday this year, thousands will watch in person and even more will tune in from home to see Punxsutawney Phil make his yearly prediction.

As legend has it, if Phil sees his shadow at dusk on Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter are on its way. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, and early spring can be expected.

Phil may very well be the world’s second ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, February 20, 12:30 PM

Gallery, Olean Public Library, Olean

Brown Bag Book Club

Arts & Entertainment Education

Tue, February 20, 6:00 PM

Gallery, Olean Public Library, Olean

Film Screening: Dunkirk

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, February 21, 3:45 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Rainbow Alliance Meeting

Health & Wellness

Archbishop Walsh Academy Awarded International Baccalaureate Educator Grants

February 14, 2018

OLEAN, NY -- The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) has awarded three International Baccalaureate (IB) educator grants to teachers at Archbishop Walsh Academy. The funds, totaling $1500, will provide additional resources to IB educators seeking to deepen and enrich curriculum content and increase student engagement. NSHSS awarded twenty grants to ...

Exhibit Opening at JCC's Olean Campus Offers New Ways to Visualize Disease and Recovery

OLEAN, NY -- A new exhibition, titled “Artist/Patient/Advocate: Works by Elizabeth Jameson and Ted Meyer,” offers new ways of visualizing disease and recovery.

Opening Friday from 6-8 p.m. in the Center Gallery on the Jamestown Community College Olean campus, this exhibit features artwork that incorporates diagnostic brain scans, photographs and rubbings taken from body scars. Los ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...