Young ham radio operator receives prestigious honor

Published: Feb. 8, 2015 at 8:27 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2015 at 10:54 AM CST
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Brandon Byrd (Photo source: WLOX)
Brandon Byrd (Photo source: WLOX)
Brandon with his grandfather, Ed Byrd (Photo source: WLOX)
Brandon with his grandfather, Ed Byrd (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Amateur ham radio enthusiasts have been communicating worldwide for more than 100 years. One Gulfport boy has only recently jumped into this hobby, but he's already making big strides.

Brandon Byrd knows that most 11-year-olds don't normally get to see the kind of technology set up in his grandfather's radio room, much less communicate with it.

All of this high-tech equipment, brightly lit screens, dials and readouts may seem unfamiliar to most of his friends, but he's fine with that.

"I think it's really cool," said Brandon.

He has been surrounded by the world of ham radios since he was born. Recently, he decided to become a licensed operator and has taken the necessary classes to do so.

"I'm so committed because it's fun, and I love doing it and my whole family's doing it," said Brandon.

He is a fourth generation operator, and is one of the youngest in the ham community, but that didn't stop him from earning an honor that many in the radio world hold in high regard: Certification with the DX Century Club.

"I was really, really excited," said Brandon, remembering the day he received the certificate.

To do this, he had to successfully contact operators in 100 countries. He said he couldn't have done it without the help of his mentor, George Bethea.

According to Bethea, the DXCC is an elite group of operators.

"Because we do more experimenting with equipment, building antennas. We bounce signals off of the moon to communicate with one another," said Bethea.

He is excited to see Brandon achieve such a status at his age. According to Bethea, the benefits of this hobby will help Brandon achieve even more throughout his life.

"Can you imagine going in for a job interview with the communication skills this kid's got at 10 and 11 years old? When he gets to be 20, 25, it really does help," said Bethea.

Brandon said he's confident that this will be a hobby that he can pass down to his children one day.

"Once you get into it, you basically just can't stop," said Brandon.

He is hoping to move up to the next class of operator this summer.

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