Founded in 1919, the San Antonio Radio Club is one of the oldest affiliated amateur radio clubs of the American Radio Relay League.

The local radio club and nonprofit, which educates the public about amateur radio as a hobby and a key means of communication, also spends one weekend each June in Shavano Park.

The ARRL sets aside a Field Day during the fourth weekend of June, when affiliate clubs set up a tent in a field environment for 24 hours with emergency generators and temporarily erected antennas.

During the SARC’s Field Day, members set up their equipment at the Shavano Park City Hall campus. Participants make contacts with other amateur radio operators while developing and sharpening skills that could prove useful in an actual emergency.

SARC President Paul Guido, originally licensed as an amateur radio operator in 1986, said this year’s local Field Day—held the final weekend of June—was successful in terms of numbers of participants and logged contacts.

“We do it really as an educational thing. That has been the focus of the San Antonio Radio Club since the very beginning,” Guido said.

Guido said long before holding Field Day in Shavano Park, the SARC previously held the annual local gathering at Government Canyon State Natural Area and at Eisenhower Park, but the city’s overnight park rules compelled the club to look elsewhere to hold Field Day.

After surveying some potential Field Day spots, Guido recalls his club simply walking into Shavano Park City Hall and asking officials about setting up the event near the municipal facility.

Local officials immediately welcomed the SARC and its Field Day programming, which lures community members in addition to amateur radio operators.

Guido said amateur radio was instrumental, especially during emergencies, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia in the skies over Texas and Louisiana on Feb. 11, 2003.

“With the space shuttle, the problem was that all these agencies showed up, but given the area they were looking for these shuttle parts, they needed young, fit amateur radio operators who could hike because some of these areas were in the woods,” Guido said.

Guido said he and fellow club members enjoy holding the Field Day in Shavano Park, an event he said allows participants to share their love for the power of radio by displaying equipment and exchanging tips.

“Some people just want to know how radio works and the things they can explore,” Guido said. "Others come up with new technology or new ways to do things, and the latest way to do that is on your computer. And some people want to be able to get on and talk to someone at a distance without requiring infrastructure.”

The San Antonio Radio Club meets at 7 p.m. every second Thursday at Blanco BBQ, 13259 Blanco Road, and welcomes guests.

Guido said while most SARC members are older adults, he is heartened to see children and teenagers occasionally attend a SARC meeting or other community events.

“Either their caregivers come there or they bring their guardians, or mom or dad brings the kid along,” Guido said. “What’s really interesting is some people who bring their children don't want to do the radio thing, but their child does, so they bring them so they could get involved.”

At the June 26 Shavano Park City Council meeting, Mayor Bob Werner presented the club with a proclamation to honor the organization’s Field Day event.

Werner told Community Impact that the SARC was at the vanguard of connectivity in the early years of radio, and club members and fellow radio enthusiasts have remained an essential cog connecting people when other options of communications fail.

“Where there are disasters and conflicts, we can count on them to supply the needed infrastructure. Shavano Park is proud to be the annual host sight for our greater community’s club field day, and we will continue to support them,” Werner said.