Due to the legal necessity for a license in order to transmit, in my first week, I just listened. I heard repeaters all over the greater Delaware Valley and sub-Philadelphia metropolitan areas. This amounted to three transmissions from Thorndale and Newtown, Pennsylvania, four from Parkesburg, two from Philadelphia, one from Reading, five from Delaware City, Delaware, and one from Pennsville, New Jersey. My first few listening sessions were the type of transmissions one could imagine. As sisbrawny on YouTube commented, “It seems 90% of conversations using ham revolve around the fact they’re using ham.” This is for the most part true. However, I soon found that I was listening for the other 10% of conversations, ones that only someone with a specialized radio and credentials could hear. This not only furthered my interest and knowledge, but introduced me to a variety of interesting acquaintances which I probably never would have met under normal circumstances.
After a motley of local transmissions on the same repeater, I witnessed my first international conversation, via EchoLink. I was listening to repeater N3JLH, in Delaware City, when a robotic voice abruptly announced that EchoLink had been connected. By the local guy’s voice on our end of the repeater, I could tell he was advanced in age. I learned by listening that the individual on the other end of the repeater, via EchoLink was in Israel, and it was about 2:00 AM his time. He was speaking very quietly and mentioned he didn’t want to wake up the other members of his household. After some startlingly normalized conversation about their respective dogs, the conversation drifted toward the lockdown. I learned that in Israel, the lockdown is much more severe, and the government is heavily involved in the international vaccine race. In a few moments, I had learned more relevant and interesting international information (minus the general conversation concerning their dogs), than I could on any news network. Merely listening to the conversation was incredibly eye opening. I never would have imagined how casually and respectfully an old man in the Delaware Valley and someone in Israel could talk about their dogs and the larger, global conflict.
Another conversation of interest, which I had the privilege of hearing, was via Philadelphia’s KD3WT repeater, between a German-American man of roughly middle age, and a man from Manchester, England. The German spent much of the time talking about how he was angry that many people associate Germans with Nazis and the Holocaust, when he hadn’t even been alive for it. The conversation took an even deeper side, when the Englishman and the German discussed how many people who commit horrible atrocities are deemed ‘normal’ and ‘functional’ members of society, right up until the atrocity is committed, and sometimes during. The Englishman agreed, and expressed his disinterest in Word War II related video games and movies, as he thinks they perpetuate unfair stereotypes of the ‘all good’ or ‘all bad guys’. A conversation definitely worthy of listening, it was one where people of two different nationalities, discussed a motley of different and controversial topics, mostly none of which had to do with the Covid 19 outbreak, and neither of them became ‘triggered’, enraged, or corrected each other. Surprisingly, the conversation I witnessed, was more respectful and intellectual than many collegiate, ‘round table’ discussions I have been a party to, which deal with much more tame, even mundane academic topics.