Mark Burris’ interest in amateur radio began when he was 16 at Cumberland County High School in Crossville in the early 1970s.
“I was intrigued by the idea of being able to talk and communicate with people all over the world by radio,” Burris said.
At the time, the Cumberland Plateau Amateur Radio Club had about six or seven members.
“The ones I remember were Jim Walker, Jim Putman, Frank Holliday, Artis Winningham and a gentleman named Mac,” Burris said. “I joined the club around 1971 and all these members were very happy and eager to help me get a novice license, especially Jim Walker and Jim Putman. For me all these men were very old at the time, but since Jim Walker is only late 80s now, I guess if I understand now they were quite young.
The club met at the emergency response center behind the courthouse next to the old jail. In 1972, an amateur radio club was started at CCHS and sponsored by teachers Powell “Mike” Garrison III and Bob Wilson.
“With their help, I got and passed the technician’s license, and Mike helped me build an antenna and set up a station with borrowed equipment,” Burris said. “During this time, I met and became friends with a bedridden disabled ham radio operator by the name of Sonny Skidmore.
Burris continued to perform with amateur radio for the next two years using Morse code. The use of a microphone at that time was not permitted with a Technician-level license.
“After that, life got in the way of me, going to college, getting married and earning a living, so I wasn’t active anymore. In 1988, I thought that after I retired, I might want to go back to the hobby, so I bought a book, studied for the general class license and passed it, but I didn’t join the hobby,” he said.
“In November 2019, as I was preparing to retire, I was encouraged by Jim Walker to take the Supplemental Class License test. I had no confidence that I could pass this level of license since all knowledge I had in the past was long gone I passed the extra course and received the call sign W4WWV Since the beginning of 2020 I have been building a ham station, I have been active in weekend contests and nets in Tennessee State and Cumberland County.Over the past few months I have become active in digital communication using a radio linked to a computer, making contacts all over the world. “
Burris encourages anyone with a desire or curiosity for the hobby of amateur radio to contact a licensed radio amateur and obtain information.
The Cumberland Plateau Amateur Radio Club in Crossville now has over 80 members, with over 100 hams in Cumberland County. Among these people, there are very competent people who are ready to give their time to help a newcomer get started.
The Cumberland Plateau Amateur Radio Club meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Fair Park Senior Center. The public is welcome.