Our History
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  The Tamiami Amateur Radio club was organized almost 50 years ago to serve the Venice and surrounding area with emergency communications. The founders of our club realized that it is of paramount importance to organize the amateur radio operators in the area, to promote training and provide community service. We have had a proud history.

-- History of the Tamiami Amateur Radio Club --


Following Hurricane Donna of 1960, a number of the radio amateurs in the Venice area decided to unite into a formal club. At 7:30 PM on 06 October 1960, twenty interested parties met at the SunShine Kitchen, and E. B. Roberts was elected as temporary chairman. During the two-hour gathering, a committee consisting of Joe Barone, P. D. Baird and Martin Sharp was appointed to study and draw up bylaws for the organization.  

At the 03 November 1960 meeting, attended by 22 potential members and again held at the SunShine Kitchen, the report of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee was presented. Nominations for, and election of, the club’s first officers then took place, with the following results:

President:           Walt Kile

Vice President:   Joe Barone

Secretary:           E. B. Roberts

Treasurer:           P. D. Baird

Activities Chairman:   Dr. George Boyd

Program Committee:   Will Chidlow, Martin Sharp, and Hanford Swalek

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee was reappointed to draw up and present these documents at the next meeting.  Discussion was held regarding a name for the club, resulting in “Tamiami Amateur Radio Club” being selected.Following discussion, Full Membership would be available for those holding General Class licenses, with the dues being $2.00 per year. Associate Membership would be available to all others, with voting privileges and dues of $1.00 per year. Meetings were to be held at 7:30 PM on the first Thursday of each month. 

Through July 1961, meetings continued to be held at the SunShine Kitchen, however, planning was underway to initiate training of newcomers and upgrading Novices. Classes were held Tuesday nights in the Sixth Grade classroom of the Venice Elementary School. The TARC applied for ten mobile stations and two base stations from the local Civil Defense organization. The TARC participated in the 1961 ARRL Field Day for the first time. 


   The 07 August 1961 TARC meeting was held, for the first time, at the Venice Police Station where a separate room had been made available for use as a club room by the TARC. Full-time access was available, the room was refurbished by club members, and a club station set up. By the end of 1961, the TARC had been in existence for one year, was known to, and accepted by, the city fathers, had its club station on the air, and there was $26.30 in the treasury. Obviously, a great deal was accomplished by the TARC members during that first year!

In May 1962, a weekly six-meter net was initiated. TARC participated in the 1962 ARRL Field Day, using Dr. Boyd’s call sign W4RHH. In September 1963, TARC applied for ARRL club affiliation. In October 1963, the TARC received its first club station license with call sign WA4RDY. In April 1965 club meetings were moved to the Community Room in the Venice Branch of the Sarasota Federal Savings & Loan Company. In August 1965, membership cards were printed for the first time, at a cost of $2.50 per one hundred cards.

The programs in those early years generally consisted of technical presentations by the members, a site visit to the Coast Guard’s Venice loran station, and the results of operating contests sponsored by the club. In addition, many movies covering a variety of subjects were shown. Of note, coffee and donuts plus eyeball QSOs were standard fare after every meeting.

In January 1968, Charles Dilks-W4AC assumed the presidency of the TARC. His memory is maintained via our current club call sign W4AC, which was obtained in 1998. At the 14 October 1968 club meeting, it was suggested that it might be possible to purchase discarded police or fire department radios that could be converted to use of two-meter FM. By December 1971, the TARC had 38 dues paying members.

In 1976 the TARC initiated the donation of ARRL books and Radio Amateur Call Books to the Venice Public Library, a practice which continued into recent years. The club’s first public service activity occurred 12 March 1977, when several members provided communications assistance to the First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held in Venice. Such assistance continued through the years with the Venice Walk America, support of the annual March of Dimes campaign, the Venice CROP Walks, American Cancer Society walks, the “Furry Skurry,” etc.

In the late 1970s members of TARC put the first 10-meter beacon in the USA on the air. It operated until early 1983, and was reactivated in September 1984. The club gave up control of the beacon in July 1985. 

By the end of 1983, TARC membership had grown to some 150 active members. During 1984, the club meetings were then held in the Venice Community Center. A chalkboard and a projection screen were presented to the Center in appreciation of use of the facilities.

In January 1985 the TARC was incorporated under the laws of Florida as a not-for-profit corporation and, in 2001, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the IRS. In 1986 the meeting venue was relocated to the Pinebrook Nursing Home but moved to the Barnett Bank the following year.

In the fall of 1987 a TARC Volunteer Examiner Team was formed to provide license exams locally on a monthly basis. The TARC VE sessions are the only regional exams offered on a monthly basis, drawing in candidates from across South Florida.

Starting in 1988, the TARC meetings were held at the Trinity Presbyterian Church. In October 1992, the meetings moved to the Venice City Hall. In June 2001 the TARC meetings moved to the Community Room of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, where they continue to held up to the present time.

The establishment of the Englewood ARS in 1989 drew away many of the TARC members living in the immediate Englewood area. While many TARC members participated in a Lemon Bay Emergency Net on two meters, that net became the domain of the EARS as the repeater was located in Englewood. Therefore, in August 1989 the Tamiami Radio Club Net was initiated, using the Sarasota Emergency Radio Club repeater that was then in place at the Venice Hospital. The TARC continued use of that repeater and contributed financially toward its maintenance and improvement. In July 2005 that relationship with the SERC was concluded when our own W4AC Repeater was activated.

Like many organizations, over the years the Tamiami ARC was dependent on many of the same individuals to serve as officers, to chair ad hoc committees, to present the programs, etc. We were fortunate that such persons have been available over the decades, with the result that the Tamiami ARC has been, and remains, one of the best Amateur Radio clubs in Florida.


(Prepared September 2006 by Jack Sproat – W4JS, TARC Secretary, based on TARC minutes and supporting documents.)