History of the Turlock Amateur Radio Club

It was 27 years after Guglielmo Marconi successfully sent the letter “C” in Morse Code across the Atlantic Ocean.  It was also one year before the stock market crash of 1929.  In between those two historic events, several  Turlock  radio amateurs   began  meeting in the spring of 1928,  with the intentions of forming a radio club. The club was first named, Turlock Radio Research Club. It was later changed to the present name, Turlock Amateur Radio Club (TARC)
The club’s first formal  meeting was held on February 4, 1929. The club officers were elected and a committee was appointed to draw up the club’s constitution. It was decided that the following 21 members would be considered the Charter Members. The names without call signs may not have been licensed at the time.
Ed Dervishian        W6CXL
Stan Wymar          W6ADB
Morris K. Nelson    W6FBQ
Ruolph Lindquist    W6SM
Lester Johnson      W6DIY
Wesley Nelson      W6FBQ
Edward Cornel       W6GFB
Weller Johnson      W6AZR
John Pitman          W6HHD
Edwin Paulson       WA6EQC
Howard Hale          W6SC
Harold Wallen
Leonard Ferguson
Clifford Plummer
Homer Alquist
Frank Grey
Chester Elliot
Don Johnson
Leonard Ferguson
Fred Stagg
Lester Johnson became the President, C.E. Plummer the vice-president, W. Nelson the Secretary, and L. Ferguson the Treasurer.
Two-way radio activity was still newsworthy stuff in those days.  General use of two-way radio by the average citizen did not occur until 30 years later.   VHF and UHF was still experimental.  Police departments were beginning to install one way calling stations.  Public broadcasting was beginning to expand around the country.  A.C. radio receivers were beginning to come into the market. Aircraft communications was mainly in Morse Code. There were radio amateurs successfully communicating with Byrd’s  Antarctic expedition, in Morse Code also.
Rudy Lindquist, W6SM best described the birth of the club, in his story in the  May, 1978’s ARC-OVER’s 50th Year Anniversary Issue thusly: “The Turlock Amateur Radio Club had it’s beginnings in the spring of 1928.  Modesto already had a club and Turlock hams were welcome, but since Model T Fords were still our chief mode of transportation, it was felt that a local club was needed.  Although I was out of high school, most of the local hams were in their teens and were still in school. Les Johnson, W6DIY, a high school senior, was actively pushing to get a ham club started.  He called a number of us together to meet at his home, and the Turlock  Amateur Radio Club was born.”
At first, some of the meetings were held in the Turlock Western Union office.  Lindquist worked there.  They had a work bench set up in the back room for building radio equipment as there was none in the market-place. After several months of meeting there and building equipment, it was brought to a halt by a letter   from the Western Union headquarters.  The letter directed the manager to remove all the radio equipment and discontinue all activities in the Turlock office, not relating  to the company’s operation.
In October of 1928 Lindquist and Johnson went to Oakland to attend the Pacific Division Convention of the ARRL.  While there they met many well know hams of the day, to include Al Babcock, W6ZD, who was an ARRL director.  As a result they both came back  fired up, to made a bigger and better radio club. They wanted to involve their members and other potential hams into experimenting and building radio receivers. With that goal in mind, Johnson contacted the Turlock High School and got the shop instructor, John Pittman and some of his students interested in his radio projects.
A.H. Nelson, the father of two club members offered to build a garage type building to be used as a clubhouse  on a lot in the vicinity of High and Farr streets, if the club would finish the interior.   It was agreed. The first meeting in the unfinished building was held on February 4, 1929.  Committees were made up to complete the interior of the club house. The club later moved out of the building.
The club then moved to an upstairs room above the Fox Movie Theater. One night the house was packed to see a new color movie.  The theater had the latest projecting machinery.  It was the pride of the community. Suddenly, during the movie, “dits” and “dahs” were heard over the sound track.  Two hams in the movie knew what it was, and rushed out and upstairs to the club room and stopped the Morse Code operator. During the next few weeks various methods were tried to cure the interference – nothing helped. They had to move out.
Again, Mr. A.H. Nelson came to the rescue and built another garage type building on a lot next to the other one. Two power poles were installed for antennas. The club stayed there for a period of  time.  They met there twice a month. By November 1929, Mr. Nelson had developed the property on High Street and sold it all, including the club house. During the summer of 1929 the club applied for and received the club call sign of W6BXN
The  club members kept at it throughout the 1930’s, improving their equipment, enjoying their hobby, working more long range stations and gathering more members for their club.
Just before 1940, Howard Hale, W6FYM, talked his  mother into allowing  the club to  use  a small one room building she owned, on an unnamed street near Davis and West Main. “The room had a few chairs and a bench for the club officers,” recalls Ivan Lowe, W6SKH, a club member since before the war. He also remembers that the club had a C.W. radio in the building that had been made by the club members. The club members convinced the county to name the street; “Radio Street,” in reference to their club activities.   Radio Street is still there today.
In December of 1940, when Gil Gularte, W6SQR, was the secretary-treasurer and $4.00 paid for a year’s membership to the club, the  ARRL, and the QST magazine. Ten years earlier the club dues only were $.50 cents a year.
Ivan Lowe, W6SKH, was the secretary-treasurer when World War II  started at Pearl Harbor. He had received his license a year earlier. A  day later the FCC issued Order No. 87, which put the ham radio operators in this country and in it’s possessions off the air for the duration of the war.
After the ham radio operators came back in 1945 and 46, all kinds of military  surplus equipment and parts  began to hit the surplus market. The “Golden Age” of Amateur Radio had begun.  Several new ham radio kit manufactures started up and provided parts and instructions to assemble ham radio equipment.  The war-time radio manufacturers went back into the amateur radio market.
The TARC members kept up with the technical advances and went into single sideband in the mid 1960’s for the long range contacts, and experimented with frequency modulated (FM) equipment for line of sight communications.  In December of 1978 the club decided to  purchase a repeater.  Grady, K6IXA and others  installed it. The simple repeating of the VHF and UHF signals was not all of the story. The repeater also has an auto-patch enabling phone calls through the repeater.  Ten meters is in there too, somewhere. A year or two ago the ILRP technology was added.  It enables hams to contact various parts of the world, on   portable low power “handi-talkie radios.” It works through the club repeater, through the internet, and out to another repeater somewhere, and then into someone’s radio.
TARC members have been participating in public events since radio technology has allowed it.  They have set up communications for parades, bicycle, boat and people races, airplane fly-ins  and emergencies.  They have been participating in the yearly Field Day emergency preparedness event, as long as the present  members can recall.
Another service the club has provided for its members and other radio amateurs in the area is the yearly auction.   It’s primary purpose is to provide a way to help the families of deceased  (silent keys) radio amateur in the disposal of their radio equipment.  That auction has for years been the “Grady” show.”  Grady, K6IXA, a member for over 25 years, puts on an outstanding, humorous show, and even sells equipment in the process.
Current members are still contacting other ham radio operators around the world, just like the charter members were doing in the 1930’s.  However, now they have added contacts with  space stations, and are doing  things with their radios not dreamed of 75 years ago. The Turlock Amateur Radio Club members are looking into the future with anticipation, for new and exciting technology they can apply to their hobby.   The future looks bright for them. For additional information check our web site  www.w6bxn.org.
The Turlock Amateur Radio club meets the second Tuesday of every Month at 7:30  PM at the  Turlock War Memorial  which is located at corner of Palm St. and Canal Dr. Turlock Ca.
By Don Thomas, W6LRG

Carl Wheeler, KE6FOA, shows off the merchandise while auctioneer Grady Williams, K6IXA, prompts the crowd to bid higher.
Turlock Amateur Radio Club’s 2009 Auction
By Don Thomas, W6LRG
The eighty-one year old Turlock Amateur Radio Club in California conducted its 35th Annual Auction October 10, 2009. The purposes of the auction are to help the families of Silent Keys sell their loved ones ham radio equipment and to raise money for club equipment . The club retains 10-percent of the sales. This year’s auction included the consignment of a local radio operator’s equipment and four estates. There were over 50 hams at the event. Their bidding resulted in the equipment going for fair prices or better. The owners of the consigned equipment are allowed to “buy-back” their equipment if the bidding price doesn’t satisfy them. The fee for that privilege is $1.00 per $100.
The auction was held at the Turlock Youth Center at 1030 East Ave. The auctioneer was once again Grady Williams, K6IXA. He has been the auctioneer every year, including the first one! His humor and ability to conduct the auction is well known and the event has often been referred to as the “Grady Show.” The annual auction is considered by most local hams to be the high point of ham radio activities in the local area.
Everything was available for inspection at 8:00 a.m. The auction began an hour later. Kurt Jauss, KF6HJO, once again traveled 77-miles from Selma to handle the Chuck Wagon. He was ably assisted by Marge Lowe, KB6DXM, and Cathy Decker. They offered donuts and coffee in the morning and pulled pork sandwiches with the trimmings for lunch. The club’s theory is “Keep them in the building with food and they will stay and spend.”
Grady brought the milling crowd to order so he could outline all his disclaimers about the “fine merchandise” that was available. His bottom line was that there were no guarantees on any of the equipment. Any understanding about the condition of the consigned equipment was between the owner and the buyer.
Grady had four indispensable “straight men” in his act. They kept dragging boxes from under the tables and pulling out “things” for Grady to sell. They additionally held the more expensive equipment high in the air for all to see. Everyone was issued a numbered paddle to wave in the air and bid. Grady’s prompting to the bidders included, “Is that all the money your wife gave you? “Your guys aren’t looking,” “It’s worth that,” and “For two bucks you don’t have to know what it is.”
Mid-afternoon, after everything was over and the hams secured the treasures in their vehicles, several of them pitched in to put away the furniture and clean up the place. Everyone had a great time.
This writer couldn’t resist bidding on a clean Icom IC 735 to replace my old Kenwood TS130 mobile station. I installed it later in the day and drove into town. My first contact with that “new” radio was on 20 meters with a station in Eastern Russia near the Manchurian Border. He game me an S-8. Wow! Other ham radio clubs should consider providing this service in their areas for the families of Silent Keys to help them dispose of the equipment. The Silent Keys need not be members of the radio club. It’s a worthwhile thing to do.
Don Thomas, W6LRG

Veteran Turlock Auto Dealer Was Pioneer In Radio Field
 By Bob Christman Turlock Daily Journal
June 28, 1960

Forty-eight years ago a young man of 18 sat at the controls of a small wireless set in the Garden City Bank Building in San Jose. Claude K. Sanders – now a Turlock Cadillac-Oldsmobile dealer did not realize it at the time, but he was the chief operator of what is believed to be the first attempt at radio broadcasting.
.According to Sanders, the first successful attempt at airing a radio broadcast was not made in 1909 as originally believed, but in 1913.  The transmission of the human voice was not new, what was new was the transmitting of recorded music.  Credit for this goes to Dr. Charles D. Herrold with whom Sanders worked.  Dr. Herrold, Sanders recalls, was hired by the National Wireless Telephone and Telegraph Company to build an experimental station on the third floor of the Garden City Bank Building. The station, Sanders added, was powered by an arc oscillator transmitter. The equipment belonged to National Wireless, but Dr. Herrold must be given credit for making several important improvements on it.
Dr. Herrold maintained a station at the college where he taught radio operation, Sanders explained. He added that he was one of the two Herrold  students hired by National Wireless to aid in building the station. Sanders is the only surviving member of the team.
“Professor Herrold was chief engineer,” Sanders stated. Sanders was the chief operator because he was the only one of the three that had a commercial operator’s license. The license, one of Sanders’ prize possessions, was issued on May 3, 1912, by the Department of Commerce and Labor.  On November 11 of that same year, Sanders went to work with Herrold. The first station was a far cry from the modern installation of today, Sanders explains. “We would broadcast a few hours during the day and evening to a very small audience.”   “There weren’t any receiver sets in those days,” Sanders said, “so Dr. Herrold built sets and would sell or rent them to people around town so we would have a listening audience. The major part of our broadcasts consisted of recorded music playing on a Victor phonograph.”
After Professor Herrold and his associates established the San Jose station, they experimented with a portable transmitter at the Mare Island Naval station and the naval station at Point Arguello. On September 30, 1913, the San Jose Mercury-Herald reported, “According to a radiogram received yesterday from the Bremeton Navy Yard, Washington, the voice of C.K. Sanders was plainly heard from the Mare Island Navy Yard.” The article continued by saying, “Sanders was recently placed in charge of the Mare Island station by Prof. Herrold.”   The article also reported that  E.A. Portal, (the third member of the team) was detailed to  Point Arguello to assume his duties there on the Herrold Wireless telephone installed at the Government station.
The article further reported that the team’s fourth member,  Frank S. Schmidt, laboratory expert for the National Wireless Laboratory in San Jose, placed both these stations in operation.” Continuing,” the article said, “The voice of the operator at Mare island was plainly heard at Point Arguello. Schmidt and Portal stated that the sound of the voices from the Mare Island station was loud at San Jose. Waves of a frequency of 250,000 per second were sent out from the Mare Island station and about 300,000 per second from Point Arguello.  The report concluded by saying, “A station 900 miles away heard the music of an orchestra, transmitted by phonograph, plainly and distinctly.”
The first station operated on a five-day-a-week schedule, Sanders said. The programs played the latest hit tunes such as “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” During November of 1913 Sanders left Dr. Herrold and radio broadcasting. He took a job as a mechanic in a garage, and thus was the beginning of his career in the automobile business. Sanders said he returned several times to visit Dr. Herrold, who continued in radio, but he himself has never returned to radio broadcasting as a profession, although he is currently an amateur operator with an Advanced  Class license.
(Some notes from George Stevan, K6SNA,  who knew Mr. Sanders.)
 C.K. Sanders (Claude,  but went by the nickname of Sandy) died some years ago.  His call was W6NTV.  Sandy owned  the Cadillac dealership in Turlock for many years and after he died his sons operated the business.  Sandy was the guy that punched on the transmitter for KTUR when it went on the air in 1949.   He had a complete ham radio stations at the dealership plus at home. He had two complete Collins stations at each location.  For awhile he had a second call sign at the dealership,  W6DVS.
He was also a great friend of Frank Jones, who was a pioneering VHF – UHF genius.  Sandy was very active on 2 meters and 440 Mhz.  .  He had a complete personal workshop at the dealership where he built numerous VHF – UHF and antennas.  He also had a 100 foot tower at his central Turlock home.  The interesting epilog to his death was that in his will he offered to give all his amateur gear to his grandson if he got a ham license within 6 months of Sandy’s death.  The grandson did not do it.  He would have had four complete Collins stations plus all of the VHF – UHF gear and antennas.  Incidentally, on Sandy’s tower at home, he a motor driven bucket that he could ride to the top of his tower to work on his antennas.  No climbing!
 C.K. Sanders worked for “Doc” Herrold at his station in San Jose in 1908 which he claimed to be the first broadcast station (non commercial) on the air in the country.  It was a ship to shore station but converted for broadcast use from time to time.  Picture of Sandy at that station and at the inaugural KTUR broadcast exist in the Modesto Radio Museum website. (see photos above)  Those pictures also appeared in Broadcasting magazine.

Debbie Croft: Ham radio — a pastime not just in the past

Published: July 25, 2013

Amateur radio operators are viewed as a thing of the past, as the history of ham radio dates back to the late 1800s and turn of the century. These amateurs provided the foundation of modern telecommunications as they experimented with broadcast and two-way radio possibilities. With today’s advanced wireless technology, amateur radio might have become obsolete. Yet, it hasn’t. Did you know the first “chat room” was invented by ham radio operators? They communicated across the continents during wartime, and played chess all hours of the day and night. And amateur radio invented social networking. Amateurs are viewed as public servants and a national resource. It doesn’t look like these guys are going away anytime soon. Today, radio communication is keeping up with the future, says Tom Margrave, president of the area’s newest chartered amateur radio club in Mariposa. More than a dozen members participated in emergency communication efforts during the Carstens fire last month. Dave Swickard is Emergency Coordinator for Mariposa’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Utilizing two repeaters — devices that receive and transmit radio communications — between Mariposa and Fresno’s Red Cross Headquarters, radio communication was available to evacuees staying at the shelter at Mariposa Elementary School. Swickard and group members volunteered that week at the shelter, taking turns operating equipment

The situation provided valuable on-the-job-training. One thing they learned: switch message traffic to digital modes, to avoid labor-intensive and time-consuming voice transmissions. Margrave says amateur radio must be technically competent to meet government approval, while filling diverse roles to maintain fellowship with other groups. In the mountains where manmade or natural disasters can disrupt phone service, and with storms or flooding in the valley, radios serve a purpose when electricity is cut off or cellular networks are down. During the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon, cell service jammed, but ham radios worked at first-aid stations positioned along the route. For 59 years, Grady Williams of Atwater has been interested in ham radio. He built his own receiver, and got his license and call sign while in high school. These factors landed him a career with Pacific Telephone Co. in the mid-1950s.The Turlock Amateur Radio Club started in 1928. Radio Street got its name when members met in a nearby one-room building owned by one of their moms. Williams has been a member for more than 25 years. Today’s members still connect with other operators around the world, just as operators did 80 years ago. One major difference is, contact can now be made with space stations. In the 1960s, Williams built another amateur repeater. His was one of only 11 in the entire state. About 10 years later he donated it to the Turlock club, on the condition that they find a suitable site. Soon Williams installed the repeater at Mount Bullion in Mariposa County. Repeaters also are located on Turtle Dome in Yosemite, and on Buck Rock in Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Park. Another will be placed at Sentinel Dome in Yosemite. A standalone repeater is located at the Turlock War Memorial for public service activities and emergency backup. “These systems are networked together via a UHF radio link,” Williams said. “This gives us continuous coverage from Lodi to Tehachapi. “He remembers when amateur radio was the only way to communicate during Yosemite fires a couple decades ago.

Annual field days are held in various communities each summer. Operators attending spend 48 continuous hours talking to other operators. According to the Amateur Radio Relay League website, the objective of field days is to work as many stations as possible on amateur bands, and to practice operating in abnormal situations and in less than optimal conditions. For more information about the Mariposa Area Amateur Radio Organization, email info@maaro.org. Members are required to complete a training process, including first-aid certification. They meet on the fourth Saturday of each month. The group is accepting donations of equipment, and is open to people of all ages.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.