It wasn’t the first radio club in town.

The Sangamon Valley Radio Club has a long storied history. However it cannot lay claim as being the first amateur radio organization in Springfield.

Before the Great War, the local ether was alive with wireless telegraph activity from newly organized Boy Scout troops trying to contact the YMCA club station. Homebrew spark gaps made from Model T ignition coils and receivers using stolen telephone headsets were quite the rage. They were silenced only when President Wilson prohibited all radio activity during the fight “over there”.

During the Roaring Twenties, the ARRL affiliated Central Illinois Radio Club met and operated the time and weather utility station at the Illinois Watch Company. Meanwhile the nationally known Springfield High School radio club successfully conducted the first coal mine communications experiments using radio.

Even during the Depression, the Springfield Radio Amateurs Association busily carried the hobby’s torch.  Heavily involved in public service, many hams of this era were recognized for their service during times of disaster. But despite their readiness and experience, yet another world war caused their keys to go silent.

When the boys (and girls) did come home, they eagerly resumed filling the airwaves. Many of them had served their country as radio operators. Now they participated in the annual Field Day events, worked local and regional service events and took the hobby to the next level.

It wasn’t until June 18, 1948 that Charles W. (C.W.) Beard, W9HSB determined it was time to formalize a new radio club. Meeting on a Friday night across from the St. Nicholas hotel, he met with other notable local hams such as the heroes Harry Matthews W9UQT and “Buzz” Lund W9KQL. When all other transmissions were disabled, these gentlemen passed vital telephone and railroad communications as well as national press dispatches during a massive ice storm earlier in the year.

...and the Sangamon Valley Radio Club was formed.

The first meeting consisted of adopting a club name, selecting officers and approving a constitution. This was followed by a report by Lund on the field exercises conducted the preceding weekend. Before the year's end the club would change their meeting location to the WCVS radio station, enjoyed a club picnic in September and play host to a Bell Telephone representative who presented a discussion about their new invention, the transistor.

As they say, the rest is history.


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