Squashed bunnies! Solar flares! Obscure Greek Island geography! The world ham radio championship puts up obstacles like no other contest, and J.K. George does a masterful job of explaining why these contestants, the Tom Sawyers of the ionosphere, are so full of good-natured obsession.Mark Obmascik, Author, The Big Year and Halfway to Heaven
The word itself sounds ethereal, electric, and of another time and place.
What is it, in this era of instant Internet connection, that compels grown men and women to do such a thing?
To travel to New England from places as remote as Russia and Japan hauling boxes full of heavy radio equipment?
To hunker down in tents for a marathon 24 hours, chasing the ghosts of voices and haunting 'dit-dah-dits' through the static and ether?
J.K. George's "Contact Sport" is more than just a riveting firsthand account of the Olympics of amateur radio, it is a powerful glimpse
into a culture of global explorers in headphones working the radio waves by lamplight; of soldering irons and circuit boards, modems and 'magic' antennas.
For those like myself who have always been drawn to the idea of making 'contact' with unknown others half a world away, this book is the stuff of goosebumps.
But video gamers, do-it-yourselfers, hobbyists and anyone involved in the modern 'maker' movement will see themselves in these pages, too.
More than simply chronicling an event, J.K. George taps into what compels us to chase our obsessions. His narrative challenges us to consider what it means to be "the best" at what we love to do.David Brown, Anchor and managing editor, The Texas Standard, at KUT Public Media
At its heart, "Contact Sport" isn't just about the romance of radio and competition, but the passion that makes us climb mountains, and the celebration (and occasional heartbreak) of approaching our summits.
How do you describe an esoteric 24-hour competition involving thousands of people scattered all over the globe, connected only by weak, invisible waves of radio frequency energy? How do you explain a pursuit that requires a mastery of cutting edge technology and ionospheric physics, great skill at making sense of high-speed Morse code, and sheer physical stamina? In "Contact Sport" the author has met the challenge by tracing the paths taken by an intriguing cast of Amateur Radio operators, often beginning in childhood, that led them to Boston and the right to compete to be recognized as the world's best at the ultimate sport for geeks: RadiosportDave Sumner, CEO and Secretary of the American Radio Relay League
As a long-time amateur and frequent competitor, I was excited to learn of Jim George's efforts to describe and chronicle the 2014 World Radiosport Team Championship. I was not disappointed! The author has captured very well the essence of what makes amateur radio operators compete and of what the competition is. The very fact of radiosport may seem counterintuitive but as the reader is introduced to the competitors and how the game is played, the attraction of radiosport, and indeed of amateur radio generally, will be obvious. That there is another invisible world all around us and in which the game of radiosport is played will be fascinating to all readers, regardless of how much they do or don't know about "ham radio." The personalities of the book's characters spring to life as we meet and follow several teams and volunteers through qualification, preparation, action, and the inevitable umpiring. "Contact Sport" is an opening to a international community of competitors, previously invisible, shining a light on the very human side of a long-enjoyed and still vital technology that is employed and enjoyed around the world. Come listen to the world turning!H. Ward Silver, An active author of fifteen fiction and non-fiction (technical) books and a writer for QST, the publication of the American Radio Relay League.