THE ASSOCIATED RADIO AMATEURS OF LONG BEACH
ARALB / W6RO HISTORY
Written By John Rogers (KF6TTR/SK)
The Associated Radio Amateurs Of Long Beach, started with a group of young amateur radio operators in 1923, meeting once a week at Recreation Park in a grove of Eucalyptus trees located on 7th Street and Park Avenue in the City of Long Beach. Ham’s as we are called like our 1ST President Larry Higgins (W6CAE) who served for 6 months then passed it on to our 2nd President Harold Nahmens (W6JK), Dwight Williams (W6RO) and Don Wallace (W6AM) were some of the amateurs radio operators meeting at the park from 1923 to 1927 when they decided to organize a club (May 1927) because another radio group in the area disbanded. This was the beginning of The Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach. Some of these hams were from the area of Signal Hill before Signal Hill was a city. Signal Hill was incorporated in 1924. The club grew very quickly and they needed to have a place to meet. They found many different places to meet, like meeting in member’s homes, then at George Washington School which was located on American Avenue (now Long Beach Blvd.) between 8th & 9th Street, then a local Church, the Fire Department, Police Department, Library and City Hall.
On Friday, March 10, 1933 the city was struck by one of the largest earthquakes in the history of the state. Club members Tommy Hunt, Bert Hanson and Charlie Morrison were the 1st hams to establish emergency communications with Los Angeles and Compton. George Washington School, along with all the schools in Long Beach were heavily damaged. Before August 1933, the group had acquired the use of the Long Beach City Council Chamber for club meetings. The club history is clouded up to this point, as there seemed to be no continuous records. But in 1935 the 1st issue of the Scott Radiogram was published. The Radiogram has proven invaluable to the clubs historical committee both for insights into the early years of the club and as a technical resource.
Community service became the focus of the club once again in 1948 when plans were made for the formation of a local emergency met operating on 145.161 mc, 52.4 mc and 29.4 mc, and on Oct. 26th of that year at 1500 (3 p.m.) the 1st drill of the Long Beach Emergency Net was held. By July, 1950 organization was under way to complete the Red Cross Emergency Station and participation from there in an Emergency Net held every Monday evening. On August 28th the Emergency Corps Disaster Drill was held, schools, fire stations, police and the Red Cross all participated in a city exercise. This tradition of emergency aid and community service is still alive in the ARALB/W6RO today. For awhile the club met at the Signal Hill City Hall basement, Red Cross Center and finally the Signal Hill Community Center where we hold monthly meetings, the 1st Friday of each month at 7:00 p.m. The 1st call of the club was W6PMO. When Dwight Williams past away (SK Silent Key) his wife let the club have his call sign, which is, W6RO and we still have this as our club call sign. A call sign is the radio station F.C.C. identification license to operate.
In 1940 the club hosted the local Convention of Amateur Radio Operators. This was held in Long Beach. On October 7, 1955 at 8:00 p.m. in a meeting held in Signal Hill at the City Hall Auditorium the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach duly authorized its incorporation, and its Officers and Board of Directors. There were eleven in all. Then on June 19, 1956 the final filing was completed. The club is a community service and emergency operating group.
Some of our community service projects are National Field Day at EL Dorado Park, a three day activity, Beach Clean up, Long Beach Marathon, ARES/RACES Emergency Preparedness Drills, Hospital Emergency Communication, Youth Tennis Tournaments, Red Cross Disaster Communication Events, Fire Departments Drills, J-Pole Antenna building for the school districts emergency communication, School Youth Project 6th Grade, High School AREC Emergency Club Pal Ham project, Stand Down Veterans Stadium, Long Beach Special Olympics, Catalina Boat Race, Veterans Parade Communication, Communication for the 5k and 10k Races. We are also involved in Air Port Day communication, JOTA a Boy Scout/Girl Scout function 24 hours, Scout-O-Rama, Girl Scout Convention, Promoting Elmering Activities in helping new ham’s, Baker to Vegas Police Run, Pasadena Rose Parade, The Signal Hill Police Food Drive, Signal Hill Easter egg Hunt for the children, Signal Hill Halloween Party for the children, Signal Hill Children’s Fest at Reservoir Park, Signal Hill Children’s Christmas Breakfast with Santa, Signal Hill 75th Anniversary Party, Opening Day of Discovery Well Park, Training Classes for varies schools and Scout Troops, CARS Project, SEMS CERT Programs, Los Angeles Area Council Of Amateur Radio Clubs (LAACARC), ARES Emergency Drills from AEC Queen Mary (W6RO), OES Fire Department, DCS Lakewood Sheriff Sub Station and Roughneck Round-up Signal Hill. In addition to community service, the ARALB membership has a long-standing commitment to furthering amateur radio as a hobby.
Many members helped introduce young people into the world of radio and electronics by sponsoring programs in the local schools and through the Police Athletic League. Young people are not the only ones who need guidance into the hobby. Many new hams find themselves lost in all the new terms and types of equipment, enter the “ELMERS.” An Elmer is an experienced ham who takes a newly licensed friend under his or her wing and shares with them everything he or she has learned over the years. The ARALB is full of Elmer’s who are just waiting for the opportunity to pass along this tradition.
ARALB/W6RO is internationally known for its club station, which has been aboard the Queen Mary since April 1979. The idea to put a station aboard the Ocean Liner Queen Mary was purposed by Nate Brightman (K6OSC “SK”) to the club, which in turn thought it was a great idea. The club has a rich history and has been involved in the Queen ever since the city of Long Beach made the decision to bring her to the States. To see more on Nate’s endeavors see The 40 Days Of GB5QM/MM by Al Lee (W6KQI) and Nate’s Biography.
Not only do the ARALB indoctrinated members sponsor the station, but many indoctrinated operators from other amateur radio clubs come to the ARALB/W6RO club station to operate in The Wireless Room. We also invite visiting Hams to the Queen to show their up-to-date license and come in and operate for a short time while visiting aboard the Queen. We also encourage them to go home and promote amateur radio in their area and clubs.
The operation of our Club Station aboard the Queen Mary in The Wireless Room is also an Emergency Station in case of a disaster. The station is also a Public Relations site for what Amateur Radio is all about and the promotion of worldwide good will. We are very proud of our organization, the City of Long Beach, City of Signal Hill and all of the great folks that help us to be the best we can be!
The ARALB became a member of ARRL on November 2, 1931.
The ARALB became a ARRL Special Service Club on April 20, 1988.
WE THANK YOU!
The Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, Inc.
Material for this article was collected from many club members, the History committee, old Scott Radiograms,
old Oscillators, a 1998 Commemorative Edition Booklet and records files from the ARRL.