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Check Out These Unexpected Uses for Unlicensed Radio

Funeral homes and government meetings put signals to work

As part of our series about how very low-power radio transmitters are used during the pandemic, we asked Bill Baker of Information Station Specialists to list some of the types of applications he has seen.

We’ve reported about the use of radio in church parking lots. Bill Baker identified several other uses:

  • Funeral homes — One of the saddest things about the pandemic is that families cannot gather in the traditional way to mourn loved ones. Radio signals are used by some funeral homes to allow mourners to attend in their cars.
  • School graduation and commencement services — Baker said these “often the take the form of parades of graduates who get their diplomas at a stage they drive past and then on through the community.”
  • Official government meetings — These might be conducted indoors but the public can listen outdoors and even participate with a microphone. He cited specific instances in California and Delaware.
  • COVID-19 testing — The state transportation department in New York and a hospital in Ohio have used radio signals to broadcast local information.
  • Theater groups — Performances for people in their cars.
  • Civic events — A city in Utah is planning a Memorial Day parade around a park that people can attend and tune into from their cars.
  • Factories — Baker said at least one organization is using transmitters to communicate with workers returning to the plant after being furloughed
  • Courthouses — In some states radio is being used to provide advisories for people coming into the court complex during the coronavirus.
  • A county jail in New York state put AM transmitters indoors because prisoners were not allowed to congregate outdoors.

Do you know of an application where radio is helping during the pandemic in an unusual way? Write to [email protected].