KARC History

The Early Days…

The Kalamazoo Amateur Radio Club was founded in Kalamazoo in 1924. That is less than 30 years after Marconi sent and received his first radio signals in Italy in 1895. It was also seven years before the first broadcast radio station in Kalamazoo, WKZO, transmitted its first signal. WKZO is still on the air today.

Disaster Strikes

In 1980, disaster struck Kalamazoo. The famous 1980 Tornado touched down just west of Kalamazoo on May 13, 1980 shortly after 4:00pm. It cut a swath through Downtown Kalamazoo and out to the eastern suburbs. It was an F3 tornado that cut an 11-mile-long path in approximately 20 minutes. Five deaths were attributed to the Tornado. The Hams of Kalamazoo not only sprang to action immediately following the tornado, but also worked to help the community be better prepared for a future disaster. The Kalamazoo Amateur Radio Club added receive links in Downtown Kalamazoo and Richland, Michigan to provide better two-meter repeater coverage to the county. Also a successful fundraising campaign allowed for the purchase of a NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter and placed weather alert receivers inside many schools and businesses to provide more advanced warning in the future.

Red Cross

The KARC has had a long-term relationship with the Greater Kalamazoo Chapter of the American Red Cross. A club station, call-sign W8VY, is located in the basement of the Red Cross Chapter House. Members of the Amateur Radio Community were instrumental in the design and implementation of the communications for not only the Ham Radio Station, but also the Red Cross’ communications needs.

Anyone with additional historical information about the KARC that should be included on this page are encouraged to e-mail the webmaster.