In the 1930s the amateur radio operators in the Muskegon area would meet each month. Their location moved from one ham shack to another. Each host ham shared his shack with his friends. It was a close nit group of friends who helped each other.
Late in the 1930s the hams thought it would be nice to have a clubhouse for meetings and a shack. They approached Chuck Schecter, W8UCG with the idea. Chuck owned ten or so acres near the shore of Lake Michigan and along Scenic Drive. He also owned an amateur radio store in Muskegon. Each Saturday morning his friends would chew the rag, enjoy coffee and donuts, and enjoy Chuck’s storefront.
In 1941 Chuck decided to donate property to the Muskegon Area Amateur Radio Council for their clubhouse. The hams got together and poured the foundation for the new clubhouse. Then World War II began and all amateur radio activity was suspended. During this time Chuck’s children tell the story of flooding the foundation and enjoying a wonderful skating rink in the winter.
After the return of amateur radio activity at the end of WWII came a renewed interest in finishing the clubhouse. Logs from a local sawmill were procured and the stockade style clubhouse was constructed. The local hams had a wonderful clubhouse to enjoy and improve. Over the years they added an enclosed entry, radio shack, fireplace, kitchen, and eventually doubled the size of the clubhouse with an addition of classroom and restroom. Our clubhouse is a wonderful respite in the woods with towers and radios. The clubhouse is also rumored to have been a home for a member or two of the radio club.
In 1946 it was decided that the MAARC needed its own call-sign. A petition to the FCC granted the club their call, W8ZHO. This call-sign graced the club’s many activities from Field Day through civil defense. Without heat in the winter the clubhouse generally lay in repose while the membership met in Muskegon at the Red Cross. Many were the meetings where the event started with a “bloodletting” (blood donation by the members attending) and evolved into the education and business meetings we enjoy today.
Approximately in the 1960s the club began hosting a hamfest for its friends in ham radio. These hamfests eventually changed into both the traditional hamfest combined with a Michigan State Convention. With the conventions came all the trappings of breakfasts, get togethers over coffee, Wouff Hong ceremony, seminars, and the like.
These events were hosted by the Muskegon High School, the L.C. Walker Arena, and eventually the Muskegon Community College campus. During its heyday the hamfest drew friends from around Michigan and surrounding states. The club enjoyed quite the run. In the late 1980s or early 1990s the hamfest had run its course. In 2012 the Muskegon Color Tour Hamfest made its appearance on the scene. This hamfest is held in October and is growing in popularity.
MAARC has been affiliated with the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) since November 6, 1941.