brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


My Big Fat Ham Radio Epiphany at

Over at, Jeff has had an epiphany. I thought I'd give a couple of comments.

Many hams seem to be completely paralyzed that the hobby that they love is dying, or at least changing into something they no longer think is truly amateur radio. I see this on amateur radio forums more than I do on the air. I suspect that is because those who actually operate are too busy having fun making contacts to waste much energy worrying about the future of ham radio. Ironically, I think that they are doing more to actually advance ham radio than those who primarilly sit on the sidelines and lament its passing.

Nostalgia does have a reasonable place in any balanced view of the entirety of ham radio. That's rather the key point: we must balance our feelings of nostalgia with our desire to continue to self-train, to spread good will internationally, and to serve our local communities in times of need. We must realize that nostalgia is not a very good recruiting tool. Listing to someone in their sixties (or older) talk about ham radio operation back in the sixties does little to motivate a young person to begin operating today, as interesting as the story might be. The reason is simple: that young person cannot go back in time and gain the same feelings of accomplishment that our Elmer's did. The world has changed, and there is no going back.

I like hearing stories about the old days of radio. I like researching what the early pioneers did. I like the stories of ordinary hams contacting cosmonauts on the Mir, or the first EME communications. There is no reason not to continue to enjoy these things which help us educate us about ham radio's proud past.

What we should recognize is that talking about ham radio is not the same thing as doing ham radio. If we want to entice others to actually do ham radio, we can't do so by just talking about it, we have to actually do it ourselves.

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