- February 23, 2017 at 9:27 am #10762
Onno, VK6FLAB, posts a thoughful commentary on Amateur Radio as a hobby being dead. Here is a summary of his podcast:
Recently I was told that Amateur Radio as a hobby is dead. An organization that tasked itself with the preservation of Morse Code in the tradition of Telegraphers and Seafarers is forecasting their demise due to the age of their membership.
Other comments along these same lines talk about the futility of Amateur Radio in the face of other communication tools such as the Internet, Mobile Phones and the like. Emergency Services often ignore the Amateur Radio Service because they have all the communication infrastructure they need. People point at the declining numbers of Amateurs and say: “See, I told you, the numbers don’t lie!”
Let’s start with the numbers. In Australia in 2005 a new class of Amateur License was introduced. It’s called the Foundation License and the purpose was to attract new people into the hobby of Amateur Radio. Some Amateurs let their Foundation Call lapse, so the increase of people entering is actually higher than a simple count of callsigns might suggest.
So, we’re getting more and more people into the hobby every year. But the overall numbers are declining. We don’t have a problem with growth, we have a problem with retention. The Internet today is a connection, actually an Inter-connection of networks. While the original copper is probably not being used, though that in itself would be an interesting research project, the Internet today has its roots in the Morse Code driven Telegraphy network. There is a long history of explaining the relationship between wire Telegraph and Radio Communication, featuring long cats, dogs and a war between Austria and Prussia. Suffice to say that Telegraphy and Radio Communications both form part of a symbiotic relationship. The Wired Internet and the Wireless Internet are the same animal dressed up with fancy technology.
Amateur Radio is the experimental arm of Radio Communications, so as long as humans want to communicate with each other we’re here to stay. Time and again, Emergency Services need operators in the case of an actual emergency and historically they have been drawn from wherever experienced bodies could be rousted, suffice to say, the Amateur community keeps on giving.
As for ‘old and dying’ men. At some point we’ll all be older and wiser, perhaps we’ll even be Amateurs. Another way of looking at this is as the global population gets older with more free time on their hands, the more opportunities exist to introduce people into our hobby.
If you’re not an Amateur today, I’d like to encourage you to investigate. If you are, then I’d like to encourage you to welcome new members, tell your stories and use your experience in this amazing hobby to share your excitement and sense of wonder. Perhaps consider if there is something you can do to help new Amateurs flourish in our community.
I’m Onno VK6FLAB
Foundations of Amateur Radio Episode 89 can be heard here:
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