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Ham radio operator helps watch over community

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Born in southern California, Jim Tucker “set out on the road” early, seeing that his parents moved around quite a bit. But as Tucker reflects, “It was at the age of 19 when I decided to settle down. And I must say, of all the places we had lived, Roswell struck me as the most appealing location to do just that.

“I liked the climate, the people, and the laid-back pace of life in this area.”

Tucker also spoke of an added incentive — why this community was basically the perfect place to stop at the time. That was because of love. “Another key reason,” Tucker said about his choice, “and the one I credit to divine providence, is meeting my soulmate, Della, who is a native of Roswell. We’ve been married now for 40 years.”

His current career has him working as a lab tester for the Holly-Frontier Corporation. Based in Dallas, the company has a location in Artesia and is, principally, an independent petroleum refiner producing various products. Tucker explained his position: “I perform a variety of tests on components that go into producing petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel fuel, as well as certifying those finished products.”

After learning more about Tucker, however, it is easy to see that his true passion is radio. “A love for radio was instilled in me at an early age,” he said. “I can remember my dad always having CB radios around, long before they ever became popular. We would talk just as soon as he came into range during his weekend trips home from Chicago to our home in western Kentucky. Sometimes, another CBer would relay messages between us before we would even be in direct range.

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“From there, I went on to acquire my technician and general class amateur radio licenses.” That serves him well today because, as Tucker explains, “Presently, I use amateur radio to participate in regular exercises getting messages into and out of the area independent of internet and other traditional forms of communications, should the need to arise.” This helps others.

Tucker also serves as Chaves County Skywarn coordinator for amateur radio, an ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) appointed position. “In this capacity, I volunteer with other trained weather spotters in the amateur radio community, as well as with Chaves County Emergency Management, other local agencies, and the National Weather Service to identify and report impending severe weather threats.

“The reports assist these agencies in issuing warnings in a timely fashion, helping to mitigate property loss, injury and loss of life. We also assist in initial damage assessments following severe weather events.”

Tucker, who moved from Roswell for a time, explained other areas of radio he delved into. “Once married with children, our family moved to Denver so I could attend school and basically try something new in my career life. It was there I would cross paths with Bob Fedde, a blind disc jockey with KLZ, who was also a ‘ham’ (nickname for an amateur radio operator). Bob knew of my interest in radio, including broadcasting, and he was instrumental in getting me hired with KLZ’s sister station KLTT — which kicked off my career as a part-time broadcaster.”

His beliefs and love of country music combined to open up another door.

“During my time with Crawford Broadcasting, I met Janie Lee who hosted and produced a Christian Country Music radio program which aired on WCJW in her previous home of Warsaw, New York. When she discovered that Christian Country Music was my first love, she invited me on as her co-host. Several years later, life took her in a different direction and she asked to take over the show. My next step was then being sole host and producer of what became ‘The Sunrise Show,’ syndicating to about a dozen stations worldwide — including Roswell’s KMOU.” The show ended in 2016, after 19 years of continual service.

When it comes to amateur radio, Tucker is also a long-standing member of the Pecos Valley Amateur Radio Club. The PVARC is one of the oldest ham radio clubs in New Mexico. Tucker served as vice president for a number of years. He explained what the PVARC is all about: “The club consists of hams from all across the Pecos Valley, as well as from all across the nation. We meet each Saturday for coffee, once monthly for a business meeting, and serve the community by monitoring races and marathons. Once a quarter, we host ‘VE’ testing sessions where prospective hams may test for their license or licensed hams may test to upgrade.

“We also host a variety of other events, such as ‘tailgates’ — the amateur radio version of a swap meet — as well as fox hunts, where we practice our signal direction finding skills.”

He’s also a member of the nonprofit organization Chaves County Off-Road Search & Rescue. “My main function is to help with communications,” Tucker said about the group. “Chaves County is one of the largest counties in New Mexico. Cell phone and simplex radio communication can be challenging at best, and having a ham in the field is advantageous on a search since we have the equipment, license, experience, and access to repeaters and systems that provide for enhanced communications. Ham radio often gets through when other forms simply can’t.”

Tucker would like people to know that anyone wishing to learn more about ham radio or Skywarn is always welcome to attend their meetings, Saturdays at 9 a.m., at 403 N. Richardson in Roswell.