Is HAM radio dying? My opinion.
Many times i ask myself this question. “Is HAM Radio a hobby that is going to last until the next sun cycle?” Looking around on the internet i see that i am not alone in asking this question. So here is my opinion, not truth, opinion.
First of all i hear everywhere that we never had as many licensed radio operators as in the last years. More licenses have been granted than any cycle before. Fact. Great.
But…., if i listen on the radio i hear NOTHING. Now, i must say that i only operate 10 and 11 meters and listen a bit to CB. And there there is nothing. Bad propagation? Probably. But there is more.
When i go to radio meetings i only meet people that are older than i am. And i am 50 years old. Am i going to the wrong meetings? Probably. But, at least here in Spain, there are hardly any radio clubs anymore and the only meeting worthwile going to is the national radio meeting. Lots of interesting speeches, lots of second hand stuff, but mostly broken mobile phones and memory cards for PC’s nobody uses anymore.
What is happening to the hobby?
- Is it because we are using basically obsolete technology? Communication for the sake of transferring information is more effective when using mobile phones, Skype, WhatsApp, whatever.
- Is it because it’s expensive and requires a big antenna to get into HF?
- Is it because a certain percentage of hams are still pushing Morse code mostly because they are running out of other people who know it?
- Is it the hams that still believe that “the wrong sort” need to kept out? I operate on both 10 and 11m and when i tell my colleague pirates they are proud of me, but when i tell my colleague HAM they dispise me. This behavior doesn’t really create the cooperative ambient a newbie needs to get going. You will be told off unless they have a HAM license, which in theory means that you should be able to hold your own.
- Is it that it’s overwhelmingly old people who tend to die or become incapacitated? Fact of nature. We cannot dispute that.
- Is it because it’s time-consuming, and just gets more time-consuming as fewer people connect with fewer people? Every hobby is and should be time-consuming, no?
- Is it because it requires the ability to talk to people, rather than talk at them? Hello, Facebook!
- Is it because the vast, vast majority of people under 40 simply never experienced a time when two-way radio was vital and common?
- Is it because a lot of the people on the air are cranky, anti-social, and cliquish?
- Is it because at the end “EA3HOE, 59” all the time gets boring?
- Is it because the bands are more and more splattered with industrial and home electronics garbage? Regulations to keep the HAM bands free? What regulation? What are regulations without control?
- Is it because CB, the band where everything starts, is still not free to use and experiment on? At least, here in Spain it isn’t.
I can go on and on and on. What is a fact is that on the most common local bands, 70cm, 2m, 6m, 10m, 11m i hear nothing. Well, most activity is still on 11m, but that’s probably because these pirates only have one band to go to.