RIDGELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – You’ve probably hear that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. Sometimes those toys started out as magic when they were kids, and for many, it’s still magic today.

Under the tents at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland on Saturday, groups of people gathered around various electronic devices. Talking into microphones or beeping Morris code or monitoring a computer screen or tracking satellites with a handheld antenna. These are amateur radio operators. 

Senior Pastor Joseph Wheat said the church yard has been turned over to them.

“It’s a fascinating hobby because you’re just in touch with people all over the world,” said Wheat.

Frank Howell is with the Jackson Amateur Radio Club and said they are a part of a small, worldwide activity.

“And we are doing something called Churches on the Air, a program that began in1957 in merry old England,” Howell said.

For Howell, his involvement in a day like this started way back when he was a kid, and his older brother broke the antenna off of his transistor radio.

“I turned to on, I put my finger on the broken stub, and I was hearing everything. How did that magic happen! That was at eight years old, Walt. I’ve been hooked on the magic of radio waves ever since,” he said.

Mike Duke fell under the trance of radio as a child after discovering a neighbor’s short-wave set. Duke became a ham operator when he was a teenager. It transported him way beyond the limitations of his room.

“My dad said once, ‘It keeps him off the streets but gets him out of the house,'” said Duke.

Mike McKay communicates with a computer. He has reached other computer hams in Finland, North Macedonia, France, Germany and Washington state. McKay discovered there is magic in the air early on his life.

“From the time I was a little boy, I put together crystal radio sets and run a bare wire out my bedroom window,” he said.

I don’t know what children are into today. Something with computers no doubt, but there can be magic in everything. And left to mature, it can take you places you’d have never imagine.