Growing Ham Radio -- PART 3: Club Promotion

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by K8QS, Mar 26, 2021.

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  1. K8QS

    K8QS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Special guests John (NJ4Z) and Steve (W3SPC) join Ham Radio Perspectives for Part 3 ("Club Promotion") on how to grow amateur radio. John and Steve explain reasons behind the fast-growing York County (SC) Amateur Radio Society. Ham Radio Perspectives (YouTube) is hosted by Tom (WA9TDD) and Quin (K8QS).

    Attached Files:

  2. N0YBM

    N0YBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The plan by the FCC to charge a fee for a Amateur license or to modify a license will be a sure detriment to expanding Amateur Radio. This will be especially evident with youth wishing to get licensed. No cost licenses and affordable equipment costs would continue accessibility to youth and make the hobby much more appealing to many.
    K9GLS likes this.
  3. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    I'm keenly focused on making ham radio better. I've been hosting online practice tests for nearly 20 years and thousands of people have graduated to the first or the next level using them.

    From my perspective, it does not matter what the intentions of the candidate are. Whether they are going to be super-technical or just an appliance operator, it just does not matter. What matters are numbers. We need more people, period. Whether they are male or female is of no consequence either, except to say that it's encouraging to get greater female participation.

    After all these years it amuses me to note that some people still suffer the scars of CB radio as if it were the Viet Nam war. CB is so dead that seeing someone using one would certainly be a novelty. The entire CB thing has been an absolute non-issue for ham radio for at least 20 years. I mention this because of the fear still held by some members that hoards of unqualified, lawless, and morally bereft individuals will stream into ham radio and ruin it. Nope, it ain't going to happen.

    It isn't going to happen because CB radio solved a problem that has been completely superseded by the passage of time. The problem was communications for the masses. That's been solved by Verizon, case closed. No ham radio can compete with an iPhone 12 Pro, no matter what it looks like. Anyone born this century knows that, and will naturally gravitate to the equipment and devices that satisfy their needs. Ham radio isn't even a contender in this arena. Hands down, it isn't even considered, not once, not even a little bit.

    So, to that, I say that anyone expressing an interest in the hobby should be welcomed with open arms, regardless of what they think their intentions are. If we gained 100,000 new amateurs this year, and 50,000 of them quit due to disinterest, we'd still be ahead of where we are now. We should play the numbers, get as many people licensed as possible, and then let nature sort it all out. You're not going to get them exposed otherwise. If we hold out for qualified, technically-minded individuals, then we'll be the last amateur radio generation.

    I think that a part of the solution to it is removing barriers to entry. The entry barriers include testing, the perceived cost of equipment, and soon, licensing fees. Of these, I'm considering the creation of a program that will address the cost of equipment. Simply stated, I want to present every newly licensed ham with a new radio.

    Will it be an HF radio? No, but it will be something that will put them on the air. Of course, we're talking about a new handheld radio. Brand new, no strings attached. I'd like to present new hams with a radio to commemorate their achievement for taking the initiative to study and pass the test, and for having an interest in our hobby. As a comparison, the ARRL is talking now about paying the new $35 FCC fees for new youth hams. I'd like to step that idea up a notch.

    What would this do? First, it would attract people who otherwise weren't sure enough about the hobby to make a financial commitment and buy some gear, knowing full well that it might get underused or discarded if the hobby doesn't pan out. Second, it would attract a fair number of freebie seekers, i.e. folks interested in the radio above all. It's up to us to make sure that the freebie seeker gets welcomed and encouraged to reconsider and participate. In addition, it would tell the new ham that the gift, given by the community at large, is emblematic of our appreciation for those who choose to become a member of our community.

    I'd be very interested in hearing what others think of the idea. The program would be sponsored by various companies, which are also keenly interested in a growing amateur radio population.

    -fred AA7BQ
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
    K2NCC, KI5PAP, VE6CLG and 11 others like this.
  4. K9GLS

    K9GLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    So then you're saying amateur radio didn't expand from 1964 to 1977?
    by mid-March, 1964 the following fees were enacted:

    New or renewed license: $4 ($33.45 in 2019 dollars)
    Modified license: $2 ($16.72)
    Special callsign: $20 ($167.25)

    Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

    Effective August 1, 1970, the FCC raised the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

    New or renewed license: $9 ($60.09 in 2019 dollars)
    Modified license: $4 ($26.71)
    Special callsign: $25 ($166.92)

    Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

    Effective March 1, 1975, the FCC lowered the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

    New or renewed license: $4 ($19.27 in 2019 dollars)
    Modified license: $3 ($14.46)
    Duplicate license: $2 ($9.64)
    Special callsign: $25 ($120.46)

    Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

    Finally, effective January 1, 1977, FCC dropped all fees for amateur licenses. From then until now, all US amateur licenses have been free.

    Relax it's nothing that hasn't been done before and we're still here.
    WQ4G, KD5BVX, K0IP and 2 others like this.
  5. N0YBM

    N0YBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    My point is that licensing fees are discouraging. The costs of equipment makes Amateur Radio less appealing. Unfortunately the days of buying good available kits or components for home brew electronics projects are long past. With the internet and cell phone the mystique that attracted me to the hobby some 46 years ago at the age of 10 of communicating with the world with limited equipment is not a reality. As the hobby has expanded into many different areas of interest and it has become less difficult to become licensed the electronic industry has become more interested in selling radios and equipment than providing units to build knowledge and skills in the average operators. Actions made to facilitate education and skills and providing ongoing challenges to operators is the best method of continuing to build the Amateur Radio hobby. Now days most operators are totally reliant on manufactures to make available a turn-key station. Personally I think the outlook for the hobby is somewhat bleak. Since the FCC has become all about making money I fear that one day soon they will produce postcards where a person can sign on with no education using their initials and zip code for a call sign. The FCC has all but abandoned most of their concerns with other radio services. The majority of their attention is spent on cell phone, wireless utilities and commercial interests. In other words they have abandoned many of their responsibilities to focus on services that makes them huge profits. The FCC has discussed turning over Amateur Radio Responsibilities to an outside authority. I look for them to drop the service like a hot rock without warning one day.
  6. NF6E

    NF6E Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree with most of your post YBM, especially the points you make about the mystique of radio giving way to modern technology. But I must respectfully disagree with your opening statements about license fees and equipment cost being a barrier. I will defer to the excellent post by K6GLS who shared a history of license fees and its impact (or lack thereof) on the growth of the hobby while I address the premise of equipment cost being a factor.

    When I was a teenaged op (early 1980's), I lusted over a programmable 2-meter HT because I was limited to my used crystal controlled brick, weighted down by 8 AA NiCad batteries. That brick was a Wilson 1402SM, which sold new in 1975 for $200 (the equivalent of $978 today according to this on-line inflation calculator). I paid $75 for it in 1981 dollars (or $240 in today's dollars), and that was part allowance and part money I earned from washing cars. The HT I lusted over was a Tempo S1, and I remember the new price at the time being $300 or so. There was a small CB/Ham store within 20-minutes walking distance of my house and I'd visit that store weekly and endlessly stare into the display case wishing I could buy that S1.

    Today you can buy a new dual-band HT for roughly $100 and a lightly used HF rig with more capability than anyone ever dreamed of 20-years ago for less than $500. Yeah, that's $600, but that's equal to or less than the cost of a decent new smartphone (assuming you bought one outright vs. paid for it over time with a contract) or an Xbox Series X. How many teens have smartphones and Xboxes? I'd bet a lot of them do. And how did they get these devices? From mom & dad most likely, but maybe a few of them washed cars.

    What I see as an unfortunate trend in the hobby over the past couple of decades is a push to get licensed FIRST and then get bitten by the bug. The practice of "teaching to the test" (memorize questions and answers and PASS an exam without learning anything) might increase the number of licenses granted each year, but a license doesn't operate a radio. The person who has the license does. I was bitten when I was about 8 years old, and my Ham license was pursued by my passion for everything radio, not the other way around. A $35 fee for a 10-year license will not keep ANYONE who really wants to be a Ham from becoming one. No way. Those with passion will always find a way, and they won't walk away once they get here. They will stay. Because to do otherwise would be antithetical to who they are. Grow the passion, grow the hobby. - [E]
    KI5ONL, WQ4G, K0IP and 4 others like this.
  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    This point has been discussed at considerable length on the Zed already . Irrespective of how folks feel about it--either way-- the ARRL (as a club) has jumped on a suggestion that I proffered first publicly (also on the Zed): have clubs donate the fee for those having trouble paying. Instead of buying donuts for the gang, buy a couple of application fees for those who need it. That especially applies to youth.

    Fred has also given us an interesting perspective. I don't think, personally, 'no testing and free radios' is the answer, but making it easier to get an entry license--and easier to get on the air--are certainly key. Read his comments above; at the very least to get you thinking about those and other options.

    Chip W1YW
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
    WQ4G likes this.
  8. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Passing the test via a good deal of memorization was always the primary path to getting a license, at least since the 1950's.

    A good test question has alternative, wrong answers, which require understanding beyond the memorization in order to choose the correct answer. That's what we see on the tests.
    WQ4G likes this.
  9. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Awesome post. This is the sort of thing that needs to be said over and over.

    Given that your "free radio" plan is most likely to be HT-oriented, what are your thoughts on radio-related activities? My view is that equating VHF with repeaters blinds new hams to interesting things they can do with their HT. They never considering attempting to do things on their HT outside of the repeater context.

    I think a small booklet on the various activities one can do with that new HT would be a useful addition. Or, maybe even a book like K0NR's VHF book as part of the "gift". A printed schedule of FM-friendly contests (the twice-yearly VHF contest and the VA QSO party were both HT friendly) could help get them active, as would a primer on SOTA (I'd suggest POTA, but there's very little VHF POTA activity). I think they need more than a radio, such as encouragement and opportunities to use that radio.


  10. K9GLS

    K9GLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    That one line I disagree with strongly. That kind of, dare I use the word diversity will lead to mediocrity. Playing the numbers will get you 7200 all over the entire bands and ruin it for everyone else. I do like your idea of the free baofeng for every new operator. I tested with Laurel VEC three times for free, a $28 baofeng and found a really good deal on QRZ for a used HF rig. Didn't cost much to get into the hobby really. Now we have fees... free testing still but $105 for all three levels if they choose. What's the current video game $59.95? Current game console of $600? Current Chinese cell phone $1000? I just don't see it being a detriment. Might just straighten the quality of unruly garbage we have on the air now? At the end of the day all our opinions and memberships to clubs won't change a thing. Carry on.
    N3FAA and K3XR like this.

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