My Response to Ria/N2RJ: “… #hamradio and how you’d fix it.”

Below is what I offered in response to Ria’s ongoing discussion about what’s ‘wrong’ with ham radio, and improving perspectives, sustainability, growth.

One off-post response was a full blog post I have a few ‘issues’ with and just posted them before this post. I will forward both post links to that blog again, and a few other social media venues that featured said blog.

As my Elmers, elders, managers, advisors taught me… bring solutions we can work with…

My response to Ria:

“First, most of us ‘elders’ will be prone to putting our perspective forward versus aware any issues with younger or even newer adult persons. Then I’m not even sure all/enough teachers elementary to high school ‘get’ kids beyond required curriculum. They have to get kids through minimal standards for they and their districts to maintain ranking and funding.

I’d gravitate toward the activities teachers, choir, dance, plays, sports who interact outside of fixed classroom requirements. Then, the likes of Scouting.
With 5 g-kids, now 8-16, they like we likely did, gravitate toward what they are exposed to by parents and parents’ associates. So we’ve already ‘gapped’ 2, 3, 4 generations from when many of us got our hands dirty doing things around the house, fixing the car or bikes, putting up TV antennas, adding an extension phone, fishing, hunting… worse, learning “other team bad…” ‘aggression’ from couch-sports.

So, parents need to be aware, engage, and provide exposure – so perhaps more presence at farmer’s markets, community festivals, sane not off-putting CERT/ARES presence alongside public safety displays. Forget the bright blinky vests and have a display of “how your phone and radio works to help people at home and on the road…” (Most techies and gung-ho folks suck at marketing BTW…)

If there is a local club with youth activity… get the kids to sit-in on a GOTA station rather than ‘official’-looking “old guys” who think a j-pole is nature’s gift to RF… pre-arrange friendly local contacts (other kids?) on .52 and have an FT8 or similar station going on a ‘device.’ Have an oscilloscope or band-scope displaying voice audio playing out of a rig’s speaker… visual, audible and tactile… i.e. bring the Maker/youth table of hamfests to the neighborhood.

Be able to offer a kid-friendly study course… with a viable relatable instructor – again not the blinkie-vests…

Know the ‘competition.’ ‘devices’, way too many activities and parent-contrived get them into college things for some.

OK – that’s just some perspective about the kids, but there is similar core understanding/mis-understanding among their parents who also only know cell phones, WiFi… a constructive accurate display of the differences in market-based services vs. ad hoc capabilities. AT&T/FirstNet and Verizon, et al are variously heavy on the “we’re here for you…” resilience and reliability of their ‘networks.’ Back off/avoid the “when all else fails” promise – selling on a negative is tricky.

One thing we lack in all the wonder of ‘trained’ ‘ARES’/RACES folks (which means nothing to “Average Citizen”…) is providing for open-channel, ad-hoc “Average Citizen” access. Otherwise, if you’re not known to THE ‘ARES’ network, how does the “Average Citizen” use ham radio to get help or provide observation? If it’s CERT, not bad, but CERT folks would do much better also using the radio for daily chit-chat vs contrived “sandstorm and volcanic ash…” drills. Probably a lot healthier than FB or NextDoor…

So – think like the ‘consumer’ who you would invite and encourage to be a participant. 4, 6, 8, 10 bullet/talking points that ‘ring.’ A couple of those points might be non-committal exposure to technologies to help focus career interests… certainly a large # of hams have/had military and career exposure to communications or other electronics so there is some mutual reinforcement and continuity to work from for others.

Talking to 100 countries on a radio, pffft, we do that all day long at work from a cellphone or PC headset… you know, sorta like a DMR-hotspot “working the world…”

The ARRL seems to think that Marconi and Hertz still matter as the face of radio… while they still do at the core, and the practical realization is a fascinating thing to teach eventually in practical application… (we walk into that a lot in ‘Elmers’… teach someone how to realize how their electrons work… the light bulb actually comes on and brightens…)

I grew up immersed/surrounded by ham radio, two-way, broadcast engineers and engineering students from a great university system. Electronics class and ham radio got me through high school math, and eventually into several fascinating communications, instrumentation, medical and research related careers… and put my butt on the back of and in the driver’s seat of various public safety vehicles.

I’ve paid very keen attention to how and why I got ‘here’, love and appreciate every millisecond of the journeys , and didn’t give a crap about who or what nonsense appeared on 80/40/20… and realized enough that if someone expounded about “great radio” or “great antenna” I had to know how/why… and dismiss most of that nonsense too.

Be careful what you wish for… and OBTW… count me in on any advisory council/discussion going forward. I’m not a bad tech writer either… 😉”

– 73! de Jim, No1PC

Leave a Reply