UNIFIED AMATEUR RADIO “The most versatile hobby on earth”
The statement “Unified Amateur Radio – the most versatile hobby on earth” seems to be a wild one, wouldn’t you say? Most people don’t even know what Amateur Radio is about – they have never heard of it. Some think it has something to do with the CB (Citizen’s Band) fad of the past. For most it is even stranger when we start talking about “Ham Radio”, the other name for the hobby, or “Radio Ham” or even stranger, the place where you do the hobby – “my Ham Shack”.
An interesting thing always happens when somebody puts the question: “Now what do you do for a hobby?”. The more remote the acquaintance or stranger, the more interesting the immediate comments and discussion that follows. Hesitantly answering: “Oh, I am a Radio Amateur”; mostly hoping that the other party might know what I am talking about; never saying: “I am a Radio Ham” – for then surely all is lost. But usually all is lost in any case. “a Radio Amateur!!? – eh, uh, one of those guys that talk over the radio and go – ten four, my good buddy – yeah, I’ve heard about you guys – strange lot”. It is then that you feel you want to steer clear of the topic.
If the answer is: “Oh, a Radio Ham, do you know Jimmy? You know, he lives in Pretoria? – he is also a Ham, clever bloke, builds his own radios too!”, then the conversation could pan out as an opportunity. But, either way, you should take the opportunity and talk about this great hobby; explain to the world what they are missing. We, as Radio Amateurs, ourselves, are to blame for what people think of us, what people know about us and how the world perceives what the hobby is all about. What the world should know is in our own hands.
This is very strange to me: I mean, the hobby is about communication – yeah …. yeah, I know, there are many facets to the hobby (mostly technical), but one of the main components is the art of communicating. How then, through all these years, can we not communicate to the world what Amateur Radio is all about? If we say that “Old Man” Marconi was the first radio Ham, my goodness me, that was more than a hundred years ago, and still we are in limbo: the world does not know who and what we are! Do we ourselves know who and what we are?
Listen to some of your fellow Hams (sometimes myself included unfortunately): “Amateur Radio is teetering on the brink of extinction”, “the Internet is our downfall, it is going to wipe Ham Radio off the map”, “Morse code is Amateur Radio’s enemy, get rid of it”, “We are going to lose frequencies, we must use it or lose it”, “Belong to the Radio League! Why? What can the radio league do for us Hams?”, “Clubs are not for me, those clicks and all the in-fighting, no thanks”. On and on it goes, and through these arguments we are wasting a lot of positive opportunities on more and more negativity towards the hobby.
We have to stop this! Rather think about this great hobby for what it really is, and shout it out to the world at each and every opportunity. Think of how nice it would be to have each and all immediately knowing about Amateur Radio when it is mentioned anywhere, in any circumstance and to anyone. As the Obama’s of the world say: “We can do it, yes we can!” For that to be, we will have to be a unified force and work together during the next hundred years.
Vic – ZS6EA