Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ham Radio's Demise.....Greatly Exaggerated!!!

As I was reading a recent article about the 'decline of ham radio' the famous quote from Mark Twain came to mind.  Responding to rumors that had circulated regarding his death, Twain is said to have quipped, "The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated."  

Read the article below and you'll get the feeling that amateur radio is on life support and that it's just a matter of time until father time unplugs a respirator.  


So, fellow hams, what's it going to be....plans for a funeral or a plans to reignite the amateur radio/communications hobby?

Just for fun, let's get back to the Daily Herald article and look at the issues that the writer and even some hams are citing as the 'cause of death'.

Hamfest Attendance is Down:    It's true hamfests are not attended at the level they have been in previous years.  However, attendance declines at hamfests is not a problem unique to ham radio.  Because of audience fragmentation, a number of consumer shows across multiple industries are facing attendance challenges.   Talk to promoters of home, car, outdoor and even gun shows and you'll hear that it's becoming more difficult to attract an attendance like they could in 'the good old days'.   And even though 15%  fewer people might be attending a home show, it doesn't mean that consumers are abandoning the housing market.   What we're seeing is a hyper-competitive marketplace that is requiring promoters to embrace different strategies in order to maintain and grow attendance.   For amateur radio events, this will mean not only promoting differently but also changing the agenda of the event to draw new and younger consumers.   This will mean bringing new technology into shows as well as aggressive outreach to teens and even pre-teens.
Kids & Ham Radio:  Get 'em interested when they're young!

Kids Just Aren't Interested In Ham Radio:   First, see issue of fragmentation above.  If we want to get kids interested we better get off our collective butts and promote to this demographic. Instead of promoting a ham fest by 'word of mouth' or on-the-air, we need to embrace Twitter and other social media.  Instead of promoting ourselves as amateur radio operators, why not position the hobby as amateur and experimental communications?  And let's quit expecting kids to meet us on our turf.  We need to be in the classroom sharing the vision of where ham radio is going in the future.  And, I believe it's essential that we introduce kids to ham radio at a young age.  Instill a interest in amateur communications at a young age and we get a new ham for life.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:   Many of us have comfort zones in the hobby...areas of operation that consume over 80%  of our time.  Personally, I love 75 meters at night and hang out on 3.916 Mhz 7 nights a week.  However, to take amateur radio 'to the streets' all of us need to make time for learning new aspects of ham radio including new technology that is more likely to be of interest to youth.  Recently, I've been active in Twitter and Facebook and am actually trying to target my blogs, tweets and other communication toward younger people.    Hats off to hams who do demonstrations in schools or are active with Boy Scouts.   More of us need to contribute on this kind of level.

It Starts with Us!   Ham radio's future, to a large degree, will be determined by the rank and file of our membership.  ARRL can lead the way in protecting the spectrum and being a champion of other initiatives, but 'selling' the future of amateur communications to the next generation is our job.   I don't know about you, but I can understand how Mark Twain must have felt when he said, 'The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."   After making the comment, Twain went on to write some of his best works.  How will we respond?

1 comment:

Tommy said...

Hello Pete, Tommy here...KF5ELO Great article. I was at the middle school today and got the idea of contacting the science department about setting up a demonstration. And tonight I read your article about the demise of ham radio. That just confirms that I need to get off my tail and set this up. Catch ya on 3.916,or 3.922.