It's complex. But today, Saturday, I understand there is a big CW contest going on, so the phone bands are fairly empty. That's odd to me, since the majority of hams today don't know CW, so why would they not be on the air on HF? But that is how it seems to be.
The "repeater craze" ran from the mid 1970s through the late 1990s. There are a number of reasons, likely, that it has nearly died. One of them is certainly what I am doing right this moment -- writing on the internet.
Another is cell phones. In the early 1990s a lot of people got ham licenses so they could have their own 'spouse to spouse' cell phone. But when real cell phones became cheap and easy, these 'hams' put the radios away and got a family plan cell phone.
And a third reason is the recruitment process into ham radio. All those who had wanted a ham ticket for years, but 'couldn't' pass a code test, were suddenly unleashed on the ham world in 1991. They had seen the pictures of the major S-Line rig, the big tower, the amplifier, the multi-element beam, and they were frantic to join the crowd. So they got the code free Tech ticket and guess what? No big radios, no DX, no overseas phone patches, no big towers, no amplifiers.
Most of them had come from CB and here they were, on just another type of CB. Same folks on all the time, same short distance. Less profanity, but it was otherwise like CB. The dream had failed. No big rigs. No SSB. No DX.
So they quit. The dream was not fulfilled. The promise did not materialize.
If only they could have waited, huh? Now they would have the big rig, the tower, the 'leenyar' and would be working all over the world. And no code test, and not much of a written test.
Patience could be a virtue. Wonder what the future holds, if one waits long enough for it to fall into their hands.
Ed, CHOP, W5HTW - Novice 1956, General, 1957, Advanced, 1968, Extra, 1969. Keep the [B][U]amateur[/U][/B] in amateur radio, keep the pros, and Part 90, out of it.