Falcon Focus: Junior becomes a radio expert

April 3, 2018 — by David Koh

Junior pursues radio license as a hobby  and survival tool. 

"10-4, we have a visual on the suspect. 38 Nora 44 recommending immediate apprehension with an 11-3.”

Junior Rohan Pandey perked up as his radio came alive with chatter from a local police radio channel and immediately set out to write down the incoming message.

To many, this message seems like gibberish, but after months of listening in on police radio transmissions, Pandey instantly decoded the message to say: “violent homeless guy running around, arrest immediately.”

Ever since gaining his technician class license in June from the Federal Communications Commission Licensing System, Pandey had become preoccupied with exploring different channels ranging from trucker to international channels and listening in on police frequencies to learn law enforcement and other lingo.

Pandey said that he was inspired to get his radio license after learning about it from his mother who obtained a radio license when she was a student at Stanford. Similarly, Pandey’s father obtained a license as a teen and now supports Pandey’s efforts to delve deeper into the hobby.

“My parents have been really supportive throughout the process, from studying with me for the license test to buying me my first radio,” Pandey said.

Pandey’s license, which allows him to transmit and receive frequencies reserved for technicians, was obtained after passing a 35-question test about basic rules, regulations and technical aspects of operating a radio.

Besides using his radio for listening to police transmissions and talking to other license holders on the WIN system, a set of linked radio signals across the West Coast, Pandey also said his radio helps him with emergency preparedness.

“Radio operators are usually the first civilians to respond in catastrophes … I get earthquake reports 15 minutes before government websites,” Pandey said.

Besides Pandey, junior Ali Lichtenberg also obtained a radio license in preparation for a planned backpacking trip. After studying for two weeks, Lichtenberg passed the license test with flying colors, missing only one question.

During a recent backpacking trip to Humboldt State Park, Lichtenberg used his radio to communicate with other hikers and campers in the park about equipment and trails.

“Since phones don’t work in most areas of the park, my radio is definitely essential to communicating with people in the area,” Lichtenberg said.

Lichtenberg and Pandey also use their radios as a forum for meeting other people across the world. Spending around one to two hours on their radios, Lichtenberg and Pandey have encountered people from as close as Cupertino and as far as Japan.

Despite their use of radios for entertainment purposes, Pandey and Lichtenberg look forward to using their radios during future backpacking trips as well as preparation for natural disasters.

“As an avid backpacker, I think that the radio definitely has a lot of practical applications for trips,” Lichtenberg said.

Moving forward, Pandey said that he encourages students to obtain radio licenses of their own.

“Increasing the number of amateur radio enthusiasts would greatly help protect Silicon Valley in the case of any crisis,” Pandey said.


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