Hobbyists from all over central Iowa gather Sunday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds for a hamfest, but the event won’t feature any pork. Organizer Allen Johnson says fans of amateur radio will share their love of talking long-distance with other “hams.” At 9 A.M. they’ll give ham-radio license tests to beginners, there’sd an ongoing flea market, and commercial vendors from Kansas City to Minneapolis will have radios, towers, co-ax cable and more to sell. Johnson says though computers and cellphones let more people communicate over long distances, there still is no substitute for the emergency link provide by amateur radio operators. He says the emergency communications aspect will keep amateur radio available even if something like an earthquake or “truly major event” takes down phone lines, internet cables and cellphones — because ham radio will be on the air as long as someone’s got a battery to connect to a radio. And even with Doppler Radar and other hi-tech help, Johnson says forecasters appreciate the help from trained weather-spotters on the road with ham radios to tell them about storms. For over a hundred years it’s been called “Ham” radio and Johnson’s heard a few stories why that might be. He likes to believe the story that it’s the initials of three radio pioneers, Hertz, Armstrong and Marconi — but it’s also plausible that it just refers to how they like to talk a lot and they’re a”a bunch of hams.” Johnson, whose callsign is w-zero-k-w-m, says technology hasn’t taken away any of the appeal of amateur radio. There’s still that magic there, he says, when you’ve put up your own antenna, made connections and soldered all the wires and you push that microphone button and hear Japan come back, or someone that you’ve called — “it’s real special.”