Becoming a ham radio operator isn’t as hard as you might think.

Amateur radio in North America dates back to 1908 when Columbia University Radio students formed a radio club. Today, they’re all over the world.

Jason Miles has been a ham radio operator since 1989. “Ham” is just slang for amateur radio enthusiasts who communicate worldwide.

Almost anybody can become involved in ham radio.

“We have teachers, policemen, firefighters, secretaries, school teachers – the whole gamut,” says Miles. “It's a great hobby to be in.”

John Corby says it's a thrill making ham friends around the world.

“From my backpack radio using very low radio power I was able to contact a ham in the Canary Islands across the Atlantic Ocean,” he says. “That was very exciting for me.”

Ham radio isn’t an expensive hobby. The text book and a radio can be bought for under $100.

Burt Morgan loves the technical aspect of ham radio – learning to build radios and antennas.

“We modify them and tinker with them,” he says. “It's a learning process and it's a lot of fun.”

And if you want, there can be a lot more to it. Ham radio operators have a history of assisting emergency services during times of crisis and natural disasters by providing a wireless communications link.

“We may send some operators to a Red Cross station, to a Salvation Army or a shelter or hospital,” Miles says. “So we can keep the flow of communication going.”

Miles says as satisfying as it is to help others, though, he's likes ham for one simple reason.

“I like to talk,” he says.

There are close to one million ham operators in North America and Lorne from north-central Ohio has a message for all those who are thinking about getting involved.

“I just hope that all the aspiring ham radio operators in the Canada area get into it and enjoy it as much as I have for the last 58 years,” he says.

If you’re interested in learning more about ham radio or finding out how to register for your license, go to the Radio Amateurs of Canada website.