Jim Hoffer has spoken to people in every country in the world, aside from North Korea.
Almost daily, he does so — as he has for nearly 50 years — from the comfort of his home, with his ham radio.
"I was a young man fresh out of seminary. A neighbor said, 'Come over and let me show you this.' He had a whole wall full of radio stuff. He turned it on and all these voices started coming through," said the retired pastor. " It was quite fascinating."
Ham radios, which allow for a two-way communication that can cross continents, require licensing to operate because there is potential to interfere with emergency personnel radio, airplanes and other communication.
Now, Hoffer and his friend Dean Saunders will again teach the introductory course needed for the first level of licensing required by the Federal Communications Commission to operate a ham radio.
For the next five weeks, the course will be taught every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although the course is free, there is a cost for the FCC exam at the end.
Hoffer and Saunders will also teach subsequent Level 2 and 3 courses, which Hoffer encourages others who have already gotten started in the hobby to attend.
Really, he said, it's about the opportunity to connect with other people whom you would never meet otherwise.
"Maybe I'll point my antenna at Europe and just call out CQ [a code saying anyone listening can join the conversation]. I could pick up someone from Germany or Great Britain or anywhere," Hoffer said. "There's nothing else quite like it."
For more information or to sign up, contact Hoffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-301-8897.
Learn more about the National Association for Amateur Radio at arrl.org. You can also learn more about the Adventist Amateur Radio Association International at aarai.org.
The McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church is located at 5440 McDonald Road.