Austintown Hamfest shows Ham radios remain vital tools

Staff report


All of today’s modern technology and ready-made ways to communicate at our fingertips are more than sufficient to handle any natural disaster, right?

Not so fast, a disaster-preparedness expert contends.

“Ham radio is still popular, especially during communications during disasters like hurricanes,” said Dotti O’Neil-Meleski, vice president of the 20/9 Radio Club Inc. “We can operate off generators, solar power and car batteries, if necessary.”

Even though most people have iPhones and many other sophisticated electronic devices, they could easily be rendered temporarily useless if, for example, a tornado damaged an area cellphone tower. Ham radio, on the other hand, can act as a vital liaison in quickly disseminating critical information to emergency personnel during such disasters, O’Neil-Meleski explained during Sunday’s annual Hamfest, Computer and Electronics show at the Austintown Senior Center, 110 Westchester Drive.

Hosting the event was the 20/9 Radio Club, a family-oriented group with an interest in all aspects of amateur radio service and operations.

The fest featured indoor and outdoor tables with a wide variety of electronics, parts and other merchandise for sale. Also offered were three forums, one of which Scott Yonally conducted.

“We function as an emergency-communications vehicle with fire and police during emergencies from tornadoes, floods and other disasters,” said Yonally, of Lexington, Ohio, referring to the Newington, Conn.-based American Radio Relay League, for which he serves as state representative.

Read the full story with photos Monday in The Vindicator and on

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