Being involved in local HAM radio isn't exactly what the title suggests; it doesn't involve meat or jokes in any way. Actually, HAM is a term used to describe amateur radio. One HAM radio enthusiast was recently celebrated for being the oldest operator in the Butler area: Leighton Fennell, an independent living resident at Concordia Haven Apartments.
Leighton isn't your run-of-the-mill radio operator. In his earlier radio days, he had many interactions with people from other countries and some with aircraft operators. He has had conversations with people from Estonia, Puerto Rico, Antarctica, Russia, Australia, Greece and many others.
He even used his radio to help a long distance couple stay in touch. The man would call Leighton from his station in the South Pole, and Leighton would then connect him with his girlfriend in Reading, Penn.
"I have had a lot of fun and met a lot of people over all these years," Leighton said.
Leighton, a United States Navy veteran, started doing amateur radio when he was 17 years old. His passion for it began when he was in high school but he had always been interested in it. Leighton wanted to be involved in amateur radio because he thought it was fun.
"When I started with radio, I had to learn how to use Morse code," Leighton said. "I took both a code and technical exam in 1939 in order to get my license; I have had my Federal Communication Commission license since then."
Leighton built much of his own equipment that he still possesses today. He created a station, W3TIG, after obtaining his license and has run it himself ever since. He started an amateur radio club with a few friends in the 1940s, which eventually became known as the Butler County Amateur Radio Association (BCARA). The BCARA is a group for amateur radio fanatics who have their own stations, of which he is now a lifetime member. There are many amateur radio operator events where people can make contacts for networking, sell or buy equipment and simply make friends who share the same hobby.
Leighton has been a resident of the Concordia Haven Apartments for 3