Albany, Georgia

    Information for this HISTORICAL OVERVIEW has been obtained from records of the Albany-Dougherty County Bicentennial Committee, Minutes and Records of the Albany Repeater Society, Albany Radio Operators Club, Albany Amateur Radio Club and historical records of John C. Davis (W4ATO), Leon Perrett (K4GCR) and John Crosby (K4GBL).
    There were no amateur radio clubs or activity in the greater Albany, Georgia area prior to 1931. The Federal Radio Commission issued the first amateur radio operator’s licenses to John C. Davis and James A. Engram (W4ATP) in March 1931. The first commercial radio station was constructed in Albany in 1933 and was assigned the call letters of WGPC.
    In 1939, area amateur radio operators formed a group called the Albany Radio Operators Club. It met in the old Haley Motor Company building at Jackson Street and Pine Avenue. Radio operations were limited to the 160-meter band with special operations permitted on the 75-meter phone band due to pre-war activity.
    The first emergency operation was conducted as a result of the tornado that struck Albany on February 10, 1940. The wire communications systems in place had been interrupted and amateur radio operators were used for several days as the only source of communication.
    During World War II, amateur radio operations were suspended with the exception of those authorized to continue under the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES). John C. Davis served in that capacity and with the War Department’s Radio Signal Corps from 1942 to 1944. Following the war, amateur radio operators resumed normal operations.
    The post-war group of operators began meeting again using the name Albany Amateur Radio Club. The first charter and by-laws were adopted for the club. Meeting locations included the City Commission Chambers in Albany’s City Hall, the studios of radio station WGPC, the National Guard Armory and the New Albany Motel.
    In 1949 John C. Davis began operating the first Amateur Television Station in Albany. It is thought that his station may have been the first one in the world. His transmissions on 432 megacycles started with still pictures but later progressed to live pictures by 1952. In 1954, Asa Tift (W4PGK) constructed another television station. Tift and Davis transmitted the first two-way live amateur television communication in the world from Albany, Georgia.
    John C. Davis was elected as the first trustee for the Albany Amateur Radio Club’s license. The initial call letters assigned to the club were W4GSV. They were later changed to W4MM in honor of Bill Ashbey (W4MM) who had been a long-time active member of the club.
    The South Georgia Rag Chewers Net was established in the late 1950’s. It was a popular feature for many years. It was held each Sunday afternoon at 2:00 and always started with a prayer highlighting the "golden rule" of "doing unto others as we would have them do unto us."
    The Albany Amateur Radio Club applied for Incorporation on April 24, 1957 and was approved for a period of thirty-five (35) years on May 3, 1957. The organization continues its corporate status with the office of the Georgia Secretary of State.
    Amateur radio operators from Albany continued to provide emergency communications and communication support locally and in the adjacent areas. There was a period of general inactivity for about five years in the late 1960’s. The Southwest Georgia Amateur Radio Club was formed to include amateurs from all across the southern part of the state. In 1972, a group of amateurs who were interested in VHF repeater operations formed the Albany Repeater Society. The first repeater station was established at the Naval Air Station at Turner Field with the call sign of WR4ADM. On November 11, 1973, the Federal Communications Commission granted the club’s request to re-obtain W4MM as the club call.
    A noteworthy event for the Albany Amateur Radio Club, Inc. was a special event station in Plains, Georgia on January 20, 1977. That date became a significant mark in our state’s and country’s history as the thirty-ninth President of the United States was inaugurated. The hometown of Jimmy Carter became a busy place as Albany’s amateur operators filled requests for hundreds of contact confirmation cards (QSL). Walter Burnett (WA4HGS), who was instrumental in coordinating the event, presented the club with a presidential QSL card signed by President Carter. The FCC approved a special event call sign for the operation of ND4JC. Those letters stood for "National Democrats for Jimmy Carter".
    A second repeater was licensed that included auto-patch telephone capabilities. Locations for these repeaters have changed within the Albany area over the years, but still serve to provide effective communications for fellowship and emergency service.
    It was soon found that the mission of the repeater club was the same as the Albany Amateur Radio Club that had lost its corporate status due to inactivity. The group reapplied for Incorporation in February of 1974 and was, again, granted corporate status. The club and the society "joined forces, facilities and function" to fulfill the like mission. John G. Crosby was appointed as Trustee and continued his active leadership of the newly formed organization.

    The Albany Amateur Radio Club, Incorporated still provides services as outlined in its corporate mission statement:

    1. to promote interest in amateur radio,

    2. to encourage persons to become licensed amateur radio operators,

    3. to provide skill, knowledge and aide to amateur radio operators,

    4. to provide wholesome recreation to members and friends,

    5. to provide, through such organization, emergency radio communications,

    6. to promote the interests and activities of the American Radio Relay League,

    7. to conduct activities and projects to carry on the above mentioned objectives and purposes.

    Further information about the Albany Amateur Radio Club, Inc. may be obtained by contacting Bob Smith, K4PHE at or by writing to the Albany Amateur Radio Club, Inc. – Post Office Box 70601 – Albany, GA 31708-0601.