Whenever Märket Radio hits the airwaves, it causes a stir in the amateur radio community around the world. In unison, the more than 2million amateur radio operators turn their antennas towards this remote reef. A frantic hustle to make contact ensues, with thousands upon thousands of simultaneous voices competing for the attention on Märket Radio. So, what makes Märket Reef so unique in the world of amateur radio?
In the sphere of ham radio, Märket enjoys the same country status as the Vatican, both being highly collectable, limited edition contacts when they become active. When these “ham radio popes” address the masses from Märket, like the real pope would in St. Peter’s square, people flock to listen. Contacts can be made through various transmission types to this hallowed ground of amateur radio. At the end of it all, hams can switch off their radios with a smile on their faces, knowing that a contact had been made.
In 1969 ARRL, the America Radio Relay League Inc, the organizer of the global Amateur Radio country coding (DXCC), recognized the unique nature of Market, granting it country status. The Finnish telecommunications authority followed suit, giving Märket its own unique ham radio country prefix – marking the birth of OJ0-land. This special status was largely supported by the Finnish-governed reef’s location on the outer rim of the self-governing territory of the Åland Islands, off the Finnish mainland.
To this day, Märket remains a kind of mecca for the international amateur radio community, and the Finnish Lighthouse Society has shown its support to the ham radio operators whenever possible within their capacity as the preservationists of Finnish lighthouse culture and heritage. This co-operation already has long roots, and the “radio country” of Märket will soon (in 2019) celebrate its 50th anniversary.
THE AMATEUR RADIO HISTORY OF MÄRKET
Traditionally, contact with the outside world was relayed through the Enskär Coast Guard Station via maritime VHF channels. 1969, and the amateur radio country status (OJ0MR), changed all that, opening VHF communications towards Sweden and to the entire world through HF frequencies. Over the years, tens of radio expedition teams have visited the island from every corner of the world; Japan, USA, South America and of course Europe. One of the most historic events may well have been when the lighthouse keeper Karl-Erik Erikson (Kee) obtained his very own amateur radio license (OJ0MA), giving Märket a more regular presence on the radio waves.
Even though radio contacts have been made in huge number over the past 48 some years Märket still remains one of the most sought-after radio contact counterparts in Europe… and also a dream destination for many people’s radio travels. Being able to make contact with the outside world from Märket is comparable to landing a leading role in a Broadway Musical.
MÄRKET – YOUR DREAM DESTINATION?
The Märket Lighthouse is manned every year from May to October. The Lighthouse Society is happy to open the doors to amateur radio operators from the world over. Daytrips to the lighthouse are organized weekly (Saturdays).
For DXpeditions of a more serious nature, it is best to contact the Lighthouse Society well in advance to make sure that other activities on the island are not disturbed or disrupted. Short visits of small groups can be facilitated and supported with the island’s radio operations -dedicated spaces and permanent antenna gear. Considering the existing spaces, a group of 3-4 operators is optimal. To begin arranging a visit, you should get in touch with the Finnish Lighthouse Society’s amateur radio liaison, Pasi Bergman, OH3WS/OJ0W or direct more technical enquiries to one of the following individuals: Henri Olander, OH3JR/OJ0JR and Martti Laine, OH2BH/OJ0BH.
EXTRACT FROM OJ0BH 2017 QSL CARD:
“I remember one morning, waking early and taking a stroll at the rocks. The sun was shining, everything was beautiful and peaceful. It was good just to exist. To be, to listen to the calm motion of the sea, to orient myself towards the inner world, to listen to the drifting feelings of happiness and joy and tranquility, to fundamentally understand being safe. To be in the exact right place, to let the diverse feelings come and go freely, like ebb and flow, and to be grateful for them all. To do nothing, to feel strongly, to be fully present and think DX-wise!”
Martti Laine, OH2BH