2019 State of Ham Radio Survey

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N8RMA, Mar 1, 2019.

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  1. N8RMA

    N8RMA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just a friendly reminder that the 2019 State of the Hobby survey is still open.

    So far, we've had over 1500 responses after just 7 short days. At this rate we're on course to beat the response rate from the last two years combined. A huge THANK YOU to those who have participated already.

    At this point only 18% of respondents have participated before. This means that roughly 3000 operators who took the survey in 2017 or 2018 have not responded for 2019. If you have previously done the survey, it's okay to do it for 2019 - in fact, it's welcomed! A critical component to the survey is being able to see trends, which is only bolstered by having both new and repeated participation.

    This survey is important for hams around the world for a few reasons, first we need data independent from regulatory and commercial bodies about the topics that impact us. Second, this survey is a benchmark to help determine what is working and what is not in the ham radio community. This can involve participation, recruitment, mentoring and licensing. It can also help identify new and emerging trends in amateur radio. Please spread the word to your clubs, on nets and to fellow hams. Any survey is only as good as it's sample size, so having as many people as possible provide their opinions is the only way to get a clear picture.


    Again, huge thank you to those who have taken the survey and those who have promoted it to others. I could not undertake this without your help!

    KK4HPY and W8JBM like this.
  2. W8JBM

    W8JBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't blame you. I live in the kind of country but that seems to be getting more dense as the years move on. A man needs room for antennas and, um, independent thinking and what-not... 73!
    KF4ZKU and WN1MB like this.
  3. KE8UW

    KE8UW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I realize that code is very old technology and not embraced by all. I've struggled with code since being a novice many years ago (5 WPM requirement). I did obtain a general class license (13 WPM), but failed the code portion for Extra (20 WPM) many years later. Passed the written exam for extra, but did not have 1 solid minute of code at the 20 WPM rate. There were very few extra class license holders at that time, likely due to the code test. I think there are too many extra class license holders at this time. Extra class really meant something back then, now it means a person has taken the test enough times to get the right answers on enough questions to be "extra". I would not doubt that there are extra class license holders that have not been on the air or involved with this hobby for more than a few weeks. Maybe what is needed is a test that really proves operating skills, technical knowledge, or an understanding of our hobby that makes an individual 'extra'. I don't have the answer, but is seems 'extra' class hams should be 'extra' when compared to the population of hams. I plan on staying at the advanced level for this reason.
    W7RY, W5KYP and WN1MB like this.
  4. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    Those were interesting thoughts, along with the fellow that said that at 66 years of age, he's one of the _youngsters_ at local club meetings. I'm in the same 65+ age group, and certainly can appreciate the lack of youth in our hobby.

    Folks, we may well be the last generation of hams and the ham population overall has or will soon peak. Here's why, in my personal opinion:

    When we were kids, two way wireless communication was a big thing. It was cool, it was high tech. Walkie talkies were cool. Only millionaires and presidents had car phones. Those of us who were teenagers before the age of cell phones know what I'm talking about. Does anyone remember paying dues to a repeater association purely for the privilege of using their "automatic" phone patch? Do you remember how cool it was to call someone's phone from your car? Did it ever occur to you that the utility of instant, wireless communications was worth the effort to study and learn both electronics and the Morse code?

    So the question is, what does ham radio have to offer today's youth that will impress them as a Cool Thing? (that sound you hear is crickets chirping)

    I've been an electronics enthusiast since I was a teenager, but didn't get a license until I was 35. Why? Morse code. Even in the 1980's, Morse seemed like an arbitrary and arcane requirement. By the time I was 35, however, I realized that I was going to have to learn it if I was ever going to enter the hobby and so I did. I went from 5 to 20 WPM in about 6 weeks. As it happens, I enjoyed operating CW, but the fact remains that I was denied entry into the hobby for decades because of it.

    Our hobby saw a pretty good resurgence in the mid 1990's when the code was dropped, and then another resurgence once the baby boomers (guys like me) started to retire. Once retired, they had more money and time to spend on the hobby, and as a result, our numbers grew.

    What I'm saying now is that there is no replacement generation coming up behind us. The reasons are simple, and are inferred above. We have nothing "cool" to offer to the average kid, and 70+% of the existing participants are old farts (like me). Wireless communications are not cool, they are routine and taken for granted. Why would a young person get excited about a hobby that offers less in communications utility than a smart phone? As old farts, or wizened seniors if you will, we all know why we like it. We like chasing DX, putting up antennas, and building things with our hands. Have you seen the YouTube Video of kids trying to use a rotary phone?

    Our hobby pre-dates rotary phones. Our grandchildren aren't interested. If we want to make sure that we keep such riff raff out of our hobby, then by all means, let's bring back Morse code as a LID filter. That will help (drive the final nail in the coffin, that is...).

    Like it or not, today's youth expects instant gratification. In that there is no such thing in amateur radio, the hobby will likely suffer a long and painful attrition phase until finally, some other service will take our largely unused frequencies and put them to good use. It's not likely that any of us will be around when the last callsign is issued, but I can't help feel that the date is inevitable.

    K0ON, KF4ZKU, VK6APZ and 6 others like this.
  5. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Fred's points above are right on and well taken .
    About the survey
    A lot of the information is good but doesn't ask you for much of your input. Point is, most of it is just a check a box, that they've already determined that could apply. So you can read anything you wanted into it if you put some thought into the predetermined answers.
    I think the guy that's running the survey should spend time getting his extra class and forget about the survey LOL
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
    KF4ZKU likes this.
  6. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The lack of youth is quite marked. Last Wednesday, I dropped by a meeting at a local club that I previously had a quite long involvement with (lecturer and educator). The meeting was quite sparsely visited, despite a quite interesting lecture about the trends in amateur gear developments, and I found that I with my soon 63 years of age was among the youngest.

    The removal of the Morse requirement was a major mistake. It served the purpose of letting in those with a genuine interest and willingness to learn, and keeping the others out.

    When it was removed, the quality of amateur radio plummeted, and also the "half-life" of the new amateurs. Here, it is very likely that a complete removal of the exam would not help neither the numbers nor the longevity of the amateurs.

    When the Morse requirement was completely dropped, there was a brief upsurge, which had a considerable component of over-age "die-hard" CB:ers that had sometimes waited since the 60s for HF access without Morse tests.

    These proved to be an unruly bunch, that brought their CB habits to amateur radio, and to make things worse, picked fights with the Authorities. Since deregulation, their patience with amateur radio is on an "all-time-low". Their perception of radio amateurs as an educated elite "went out of the window" with this.

    Soon will the last of the "spectrum bureaucrats" that hold a favourable position to amateur radio retire, and what happens next is anyone's guess.

    K0IP, KF4ZKU, VK6APZ and 3 others like this.
  7. KK4HPY

    KK4HPY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you , I completed the survey.
  8. K2LED

    K2LED XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    CW is but one of many digital modes. Next question...Must one demonstrate proficiency in FT8 in order to obtain a license? If not FT8 should we choose PSK31 FSK? I think that the real test to determine if a candidate is worthy is their proficiency on a spark gap transmitter. Yea, that will weed them out. Oh, you are not a real Ham if you can not do SSTV; you have been weeded out, no ticket for you. What, you have never made an EME contact? That's required to become a Ham. You don't deserve a ticket you CB'er if you cant key down on a HF AM net and talk for 20 minutes straight.

    I'm happy to be on the air whatever the mode. 73
    KG5THG and AI7PM like this.
  9. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Classic case of causation vs. correlation. Like eating ice cream increases reading comprehension. Proffered with absolutely no backup data, other than the rant of the poster.

    N4AAB, AI7PM and AC0GT like this.
  10. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agreed. It's been over a decade now and people still pine for their Morse code testing. Morse code testing tests for nothing other than Morse code knowledge. Pining for the days of Morse code testing is what's killing Amateur radio, at least in my opinion.

    Amateur radio must redefine itself now that people have far easier access to communications. There's cell phones, internet, and all other forms of communications wired and wireless. The state of Amateur radio today is that it is in this state of being redefined.

    When I started in Amateur radio I thought this redefinition would take far less time. Instead I see radios selling today that are nearly indistinguishable from those made 20 years ago. Only very recently has Amateur radio started to embrace what was promised then. I was promised software defined radios, and computer networks on Amateur radio that spanned the globe. Instead I still see people that want to tap on a key like some World War II reenactment.


    If you want to see Amateur radio survive then the people in the hobby need to get beyond their bad habits from 50 years ago.

    People need to remember their history. Yes, Morse code was important to radio but remember that nobody actually wanted to use it. Morse code was a hack, a means of communication out of necessity from the technology of the time. People wanted to TALK on the radio, not listen to tones and tap on a switch. People in the business of communication abandoned it as quickly as they could, because it is a very inefficient mode of communication. Certainly Amateur radio can continue using it but any need for Morse code testing disappeared in the 1990s, if not earlier. Because the wheels of government move slowly it took decades to remove this requirement from the books.

    I realize I'm likely to get a lot of flak for my comments here. I don't care. It seems that so many see their Amateur radio license as nothing more than a Morse code speed certificate from the FCC. If that's what you want it to be then no wonder you see Amateur radio in such a sad state. Amateur radio hasn't died, you murdered it.
    KW9U, K0ON and KF4ZKU like this.

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