Ham Radio is "faintly embarrasing?"

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KV9Y, Dec 28, 2004.

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  1. VA3WIN

    VA3WIN Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is my e-mail response to the Times' Lev Grossman

    Lev Grossman, what planet are you from? Have you done any research on amateur radio? Obviously have not.

    Amateur radio has not only been a hobby since the early nineteen hundreds but the help that amateur radio operators have rendered without remuneration or, in most cases, without recognition regarding communications during catastrophes and/or simply local events is incalculable.

    (1) Amateur Radio Operators are federally licensed and have a working knowledge of the technology regarding the equipment being used.
    (2) We are mandated to help with communications without payment when a need is obvious or to assist the authorities (when called upon) if a failure occurs in their communications system.
    (3) Under pain of monetary penalty or incarceration, we are prohibited to use foul or profane language in any of our communications.

    The foregoing are only some of the salient points regarding Amateur Radio. Yes, of course, the hobby aspect is that of making contact with other stations whether they be around the corner or around the world at a base station or mobile. The hobby not only provides fellowship while talking to other amateur radio operators but there are contests whereby operators are encouraged to make as many contacts as possible with the allotted time of the contest period and awards or certificates are provided. This demonstrates the efficiency and capabilities of the operator.

    The hobby has also provided many spin-off pieces of technology being used to great advantage world wide i.e. (a) Cellular telephone technology where the repeater tower idea is now used for continuous coverage. (b) E-mail; having been patterned on Packet Radio – a form of digital bursts or packets to be decoded by the receiving station as text.

    Now, we – collectively should expect an apology or - - - at least an “I was wrong” from you.

    J. R. Baldwin – VA3WIN     (proud to be an amateur radio operator)

    Omemee, Ontario
  2. AB0SD

    AB0SD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Forgive this comment from a young 5wpm pup. TIME is part of the same old media that tried to sink President Bush with forged memos. I believe the bloggers dubbed this "Memogate".

    And how long does it take to get print media anyway? I find most newspapers useless, except for fire starter. Judicious use radio, both broadcast and ham, for information purposes is significantly more efficient. Hmm.
  3. KV9Y

    KV9Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMHO, of course...
    I have been a ham for more than 20 years now and I am D&*M proud of that! I have handled emergency traffic, been a control operator for emergency WX nets and placed myself in harm's way just to use my "faintly embarrasing hobby" to help those that needed it.

    There was a point in time when I was young, that I would let a comment like the one Mr. Grossman made, just pass by. After this long as a ham, it is just downright irritating. I support his right to comment as he wishes but TIME should have enough respect for the First Amendment to publish some of our letters in their magazine. Free Speech is only fair if all opinions are published at the same level, in the same venue.

    Sure, there are those of us that don't smell so good, or always have well kempt hair, or just don't quite fit into general society. One can personally be embarrased by BO or poor grooming or bad grammer or spelling but not because they are hams!

    Those of you who feel this hobby is "faintly embarrasing" should dig down deeply inside yourselves and evaluate why you are a member of this community. In general, if you find something within yourself as embarassing, then you need to change it.

    Another ham here, posted several comments about our fair hobby from Howard Sterns and a comic (I forget who it was). Well, these are entertainment personalities, not seemingly respectable publications of world news. I remember watching an episode of Futurama where Bender (the robot) cuts off his antenna and states "...It's not like I'm a ham radio...' (or something like that...) I laughed out loud at that one! That's entertainment.

    Well, there's my 2 cents' worth. I will now step off my soap-box. [​IMG]

    Ken Linder - KC7RAD
  4. WA7ITZ

    WA7ITZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    IF people have this opinion of us ... while it is misguided ..
    it may very well be understood... especially in times of
    emergencies where, in my humble opinion, we are consistently
    stunning in our inability or unwillingness to do what we should be able to do best.... Instead, we go around thumping our chest and ballyhooing about the good we THINK we are doing...

    Here's an email I recently sent to an emergency official in the
    ham radio area... I think it illustrates what I mean...
    It is absolutely STUNNING how with great magnificence we absolutely refuse to learn our lessons from the past and just keep on our merry way, no matter how many examples or lessons keep coming up.

    Watching the news, I see repeated statements about how people are unable to find out anything about friends and relatives in the area hit by the sunami... This points out once AGAIN how, if we would quit being so damned stubborn, MARS and other emergency networks could alleviate this problem, if they were put BACK into place again as they used to be. Sometimes the old ways are STILL the best. Progress is good ... but to throw out everything of the past in
    the name of progress is not progress ... it is pure stupidity...

    Granted, this is mainly an overseas problem and there is likely little military involvement in the relief effort... BUT what is going to happen when the next disaster hits closer to home??
    I imagine the same thing. We seem to have learned NOTHING from all the hurricanes and tornadoes in the U.S. this year when it comes to traffic handling capabilities... especially Health and Welfare. We go around thumping ourselves on the chest with GREAT admiration
    about how we help out local government and police agencies.... and totally IGNORE the common
    citizen who would LOVE to be able to get a message outside the disaster area to friends and relatives to let them know that they are still alive and what they are doing.

    I imagine what will happen next time is the same thing that is happening now. People all up and down the chain of both MARS and ham radio so-called "emergency networks" are saying..... and will continue to say... "oh, we have satellite phones." "Oh, we will use cell phones" ... "Oh, we will be able to use the internet".. and other crocks like that. Does anyone REALLY believe that if a disaster of similar
    nature happened closer to us that cell phones and the internet would STILL be usable? IF there are
    really any people who believe that ... PLEASE send them my way... I have some great lakeside land and a few bridges I would LOVE to sell them... cheap.

    Now, if gateway stations were not sent to the scrap heap overseas ... if the government werent scrapping and shredding half the store of communications equipment .... if hams and MARS members actually knew HOW to originate messages and set up and control traffic nets.... and IF people up and down the chain would quit being so stubborn .... then we wouldnt be having these reports on the news of "people are having a VERY difficult time getting information" out of a disaster area....
    And, the ordinary person effected by a disaster just might see that someone cares about their emotional needs in a small way .....

  5. KC5CPO

    KC5CPO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have to agree with previous posts on this topic. Ham radio is embarrassing! Some of us think that just because we have a license to operate ham radios it somehow entitles us to participate in every car wreck and house fire we come across. We run around with our flashy lights on our cars, multiple antennas and goofy orange vests and demand to get in on the action. Most ham operators are overweight and desperately need a bath! No wonder we are seen as embarrassing. Folks this is a hobby! nothing more! So enjoy it as such.
    END OF RANT...
  6. KB1KIX

    KB1KIX Ham Member QRZ Page


    I haven't seen much that passes for journalism in that rag for quite some time.

    This comment though........ I don't think much of it to be honest.

  7. K4ACT

    K4ACT Ham Member QRZ Page

    i think he didn't think before he wrote old cronic foot in mouth syndrome
  8. AC5WO

    AC5WO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ham radio IS at least faintly embarrassing. I'd never admit to being a ham on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th date. However, good people participate in many worthwhile activities that are also at least faintly embarrassing.

    Hams should be more concerned about Amateur Radio being irrelevant than "faintly embarrassing". Many non-hams help provide emergency communications and the lack of a license doesn't prevent them from helping at the local EOC. Other non-hams experiment with radio communications, taking advantage of the large amount of unlicensed spectrum available under Part 15. Sure they can't transmit 1500 watts, but when was the last time a member of the general public asked you "How far can you talk on that?" In addition, "Advancement of the radio art" is now largely a corporate R&D activity with Part 5 Experimental licenses and STAs, not Part 97, providing access to the radio spectrum. To be blunt, ham radio is about as relevant to advancement of radio communications as model railroading is to advacement of transportation technology. They've both become old-man nostalgia hobbies.

    George AC5WO

    Sec. 97.1 Basis and purpose.

    The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
    (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
    (b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
    © Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
    (d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio
    service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
    (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.
  9. N9CJT

    N9CJT Ham Member QRZ Page

    [Here's a copy of my letter to TIME]

    Dear Time:

    I'm wondering if I should break my 24-year streak of service as a severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service because of your determination that my quarter-century of licensure in the Amateur Radio
    Service is "faintly embarrassing." Who knows, maybe your article will convince my patients, who are impressed if they discover that I volunteer my time to help protect them from tornados here in Indiana, that I'm a quack
    intead of a good doctor. Oh, the heartbreak of sore I-ass-is......

  10. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dear Editor:

    Subject:  Lev Grossman's "Faintly Embarrassing" Utterance

    In your latest issue, Lev Grossman struck a nerve.  Not just with me, but with many who share an interest in ham radio.  Somehow, Mr. Grossman saw fit to characterize ham radio operators as somewhat of an embarrassment to society.  Who knows why.  I won't waste time trying to speculate as to why.  Here's his exact quote: “Before this year, blogs were a curiosity, a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby on the order of ham radio and stamp collecting."

    While to me its not important what a "Blog" is, it certainly is very important that amateur radio not be perceived as embarrassing.  What 700,000 Americans have chosen to pursue certainly is not quirky or nerdy enough to be broad-brushed as an embarrassment:  Faint or otherwise.

    Its true that hams need to learn something about electronics and radio technology to obtain a license to operate their equipment.  I guess that's a little nerdy.  Or, that we have established communications during disasters where no other normal communications media were available.  Yes, I suppose that too is nerdy.  But, I'm not embarrassed to be a ham.  But, then, maybe I'm not an objective judge.

    I just wanted to let you know that in voicing his spear in your magazine, you've labelled the likes of Walter Cronkite, Ronnie Milsap, Barry Goldwater, Arthur Godfrey and Marlon Brando as having actively enjoyed the faintly embarrassing  pastime of ham radio.


    W. Lee McVey
    Bradenton, FL
  11. K1MH

    K1MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    You are taking the wrong approach. I never mention ham radio. Unless I a specifically asked I never mention that I am a ham. That comes later.

    Tell them you ocassionally experiment with RF in the VHF and UHF portions of the spectrum. You can also tell them that depending upon the atmosphere, you sometimes bounce signals in the HF range off of the ionosphere. Its a "totally" all natural satellite.

    "Wow do you need a license for that?"

    THEN you tell em your a ham. Brainy chicks love it!


    Mike - K1MH
  12. N9YB

    N9YB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not that it hasn't been said before, but journalism has taken quite a few kicks in the chops this year. Let ye cast the first stone...
  13. N2IXA

    N2IXA Ham Member QRZ Page

    My E-mail to time


    To whom it my concern

    I am offended by Lev Grossman's characterization of ham radio as a "faintly embarrassing hobby" in his Blog of the Year.

    Ham Radio operators, of which I am one of the 670,000 US amateurs and 3 million amateurs world wide, are currently providing emergency communication in the aftermath of the earthquake. Similar public service has been provided in many other situations, including the recent Florida hurricanes. The "embarrassing" Ham Radio operators equipment include thousands of repeaters throughout the US and the world, many with interfaces to the Internet, TV, data communications, microwave systems, and our own earth-orbit satellites, and more.

    I have communicated with well over 1,630 hams in 264 countries.

    Here are to name a few of the "embarrassing" amateurs; Chet Atkins W4CGP, Ronnie Milsap WB4KCG, Patty Loveless KD4WUJ, Joe Walsh WB6ACU, and Sen. Barry Goldwater K7UGA.

    President George H. Bush called amateur radio operators "one of his 1000 points of light"

    Sir please do not call amateur radio embarrassing, were we embarrassing at the world trade towers or when the space shuttle burned up. We provide communications when others can't, including when your cell phone goes down. If we are so "embarrassing" then why are amateurs helping to provide communications in Thailand, why aren't you and Lev Grossman down there with your cell phone?

    Thank you for your time.

    Robert E. Moore
    amateur radio call N2IXA
  14. W1RON

    W1RON Ham Member QRZ Page

    Before you criticize the spelling of another, maybe you should check your own spelling before posting a message!  The word is notable....not noteable.
  15. KC9ECI

    KC9ECI Ham Member QRZ Page

    You all are embarrassing me. You people would argue over the color of snow.
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