Friday, 19 February 2021

Demographic's and Ham Radio...

Frank M. Howell, K4FMH,  wrote in a recent Blog post: Can we defuse the demographic time-bomb?

"Hams, as indicated by the proxy of ARRL membership and in the National Contest Journal past and present subscriber data, are sorely under-represented in the pre-50 age ranges"

"Traditional radio sport is facing a demographic cliff of ageing ham contesters." 

"It is often attributed to the social thinker August Comte to have said, Demography is Destiny. But it does not have to be so. (see my talk to the Sutton & Cheam Society in London) It does require taking the blinders off of tradition and evaluate it for what it is today and what it means for the future. This almost always requires those in power to make such decisions to forsake their own vested interests in favor of change. 

Like the famous Lemmings advertisement by Apple, not everyone has to walk off this demographic cliff. We just have to take the blinders of tradition off our eyes, wake up, act for the common good, and smell the demographic coffee. Because it’s brewing…"


I am so sick of reading this crap!!!!!! Ham radio seems to have ALWAYS been an “old guys” activity from the very early days. 


First of all, not all hams are interested in membership in their national radio society, ARRL or otherwise. Most do not subscribe to a ham radio magazine, so the numbers he used to project that theory are flawed from the very start.


Secondly not all hams are into contesting. I was at one time, I took part in every contest I could. Then I had an epiphany, sitting on my ass for 14 hours a day contesting is not very I stopped. Yes, I still dabble, for an hour or two at a time. But my health is far too important to sit in a chair for many hours at a time.


Thirdly, many people get a ham license and do nothing with it, they don’t even buy a radio. Or, in the case of two local hams I know here in town, have many radios and yet haven’t been on the air at all in over 10 years.


Fourthly, a good number of hams get their license in their teens, I know a couple who were aged 9 and 11, but they leave the hobby for work or higher education reasons....then come girls and raising a family. But, eventually, 25 or 30 years later, they come back to the hobby as they now have the time and, more importantly, the money to buy good equipment.


How many people have got their license over the past decade or so, been treated like crap by the ‘good old boys’ on the local repeater, and have left the hobby for good? A good number from what I have read, and yeah, I bet they give the hobby great reviews when the subject of amateur radio comes up in conversation!


To me, rather than trying to fill the bank accounts of national radio societies with new members, we should looking at finding ways to rid our hobby of the chronic rule breakers. You know, those hams that use 1500w to talk across their small town to talk about medical issues that nobody wants, or needs, to hear instead of using the lowest power setting to do so as required by law. 


Or, how about trying to find a way to rid the hobby of the those who sit all day on a certain 40m frequency and spout obscenities at all comers, the same goes for the individual with a VE7 call, who sits all afternoon on 14.313 spouting death threats to all and sundry. I mean it’s the place to go if you’re looking to learn a few new swear words each day, but it’s not ham radio as I was brought up to believe.


My Dad, VE7CVQ, passed away in 1993, and you could hear the complaining about it being an old guys hobby back then. Nothing has changed and nothing will ever change as long as this hobby is allowed to continue. You cannot force youngsters into the hobby, so go with what we’ve got.


A better way of looking at the ‘numbers’ in ham radio is to look at the historic level of participants over the years, and I’m sure you’ll find them fairly constant.


You see to me, ham radio is not about “the number of participants” at all. It’s about experimenting with antennas, different modes, and different power levels to see who and what you can work. 


Stay safe out there!

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