Discussion in 'Amplitude Modulation' started by K4KYV, Mar 15, 2019.
How much more beating can that dead horse take?
I think it's pretty much glue now.
Right. I didn't have the incentive to upgrade to the next level because I didn't want to gain any extra operating privileges.
The claims of Amateur radio being "dumbed down" to the point that the FCC is handing out licenses on cereal boxes is getting real tired. The questions are not written by the FCC and so they have very little to do with the "dumbing down". If we take this to the limit then the result can be anything you want, because this is one point on the graph and you can put the slope as anything you wish.
Just because you don't see the failure of incentive licensing does not mean it's not happening. I believe the bottom was knocked out of incentive licensing sometime around 1990. This "bottom heavy" licensing we have now, with Technician licenses making up half of licensed Amateurs and growing, did not happen overnight. Technology changed and operating above 25 MHz got real interesting and real cheap, far more than HF.
Take a look at the Ham Data home page, while Technician numbers are growing at a pace of 15 per day the sum of all the rest are shrinking by 2 per day. Sure, we might be seeing some growth in General and Extra still but the losses in Novice and Advanced means fewer total people on HF.
You believe that incentive licensing is still working? That's fine. We'll just have to come back and revisit just how well this is "working" regardless of how this ARRL proposal works out. Or, that's how I see it. I'm still a bit confused on how we can measure the success or failure of incentive licensing. It's hard to measure success if the goal is not defined. What does success look like?
The popularity of the Technician Class license is a result of its current privileges, and for most holders does NOT reflect some sort of interim license with bottled-up demand for General or Extra. There's no strong basis to even call it an "entry level" license, since a majority of people who pursued that class are probably satisfied with staying right there. Good for them, because I don't see any particular longing among Techs to get on HF. And that's probably why the ARRL tip-toed around the issue of whether HF would actually increase demand for a Technican Class license. I think HF privileges would not significantly improve the ticket's allure, any more so than dropping the CW requirement years earlier. And curiously, the ARRL's petition did NOT include any survey or marketing analysis to ask people what would help draw them to a license.
But dropping the code requirement for tech, and later for the other classes, certainly did add to an influx to all of those license classes. Huge change.
The ARRL, in its petition, asserted that the initial growth did not continue after those changes, inadvertantly proving the point that adding HF to a Tech license also would not have the desired effect.
A series of attempts over the past 30 years to remedy stagnant growth by increasing privileges or lowering entrance requirements, have met with only limited success. Each one has gone through a similar pattern: a short-term bump in newcomers followed by a return to relatively static numbers: Novice Enhancement (10m phone and CW privileges, 1987), No-code Technician (1991), reduction of the code speed requirement for all licence classes to the former Novice standard of 5 words per minute (2000), and finally, elimination of the code requirement altogether (2007). The stagnation in growth and decline of interest in amateur radio are related more to changes in demographics and society, than to regulatory structure, making it questionable whether further easing of standards as proposed under this Petition would have a different effect this time around. It's been said that 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results'.
The present-day licence structure is a decades-long hodge-podge of piecemeal additions and revisions, that don't add up to a lot of sense. But nearly everyone is reluctant to toss out what we have and start afresh from scratch, out of fear of what might replace it. Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it and then not like what you get, Incentive Licensing being a prime example.
New licensees coming into the FCC data base still appear to be balancing out the rate of attrition. But given the average age of individuals now making up the amateur community (just look over the crowds attending major hamfests), in the not-too-distant future large numbers of licensees will “age out” due to infirmities of old age and eventually, death. The current decline in on-air activity despite increasing numbers of licensees reinforces this concern. Don't expect anyone to come up with a silver bullet to fix this mess.
The demographics don’t lie. The hobby is slowly dying. Continuous dilution of the requirements isn’t going to change anything. Just like model railroading, kite flying or hundreds of other activities, it simply doesn’t appeal to younger generations. Let it die with some dignity.
And you can't legislate genetic activity as it relates to aging and death (apoptosis).
It's a poor solution to the wrong problem.
Have faith -- there will always be a replenishing subset demographic of "older people" who could still have the time and the resources to take up a hobby like Amateur Radio. Don's note of the "insanity" repetition also applies to the ARRL's persistent chasing of young people as a misguided recruitment target. Now, more so than ever, the younger demographic is disinclined to take up the hobby for a variety of well-known reasons. It's the older people who represent the best prospect for growth. Yet, the "national association" for the hobby continues to overlook that part of society.
It's easy to see how a hobbyist approach to social communications could include "radio" both as a place to play, and as a place to get guidance among other licensees on a range of topics like this: