OBSCURE AMATEUR RADIO “The most versatile hobby on earth”
You can inquire from any Ham: “What do you think of the hobby?”, the answer will always be: “Amateur Radio – the most versatile hobby on earth”. Even so, my years in Ham Radio taught me that we Hams are a bit shy to promote our hobby. Of course, you do get your Ham that naturally stands out at promoting the hobby, but the majority of Hams shy away from getting involved in actively taking the hobby to the outside world. I don’t think it is a personality thing, on average Hams are outgoing people that like to communicate. Could it perhaps be that we get so absorbed with our own interests? Or maybe that we don’t know where to start with something like this, what opportunities there are, and if we will make fools of ourselves showcasing this wonderful hobby. Truth is, Ham Radio is a rather obscure hobby when viewed publicly. Ask the outsiders what they think of Ham Radio – “Never heard of it, what does the ham stand for?”.
That is a pity. Why would we Hams hide this experience away from the world? The hobby offers so much – a lot more than what one individual can experience in a lifetime and, don’t make any mistakes, we need new people. We Hams are competing against major competitors when it comes to getting attention and new members, especially from the younger generation. The Internet, mobile phones and related communications development seem to be the preferences when considering the question: “Don’t you want to become a Radio Ham? Join us and learn about electronics and talking to your friends over the radio”. Generally I find that the answer to this question would be: “I can learn about electronics on the Web and by the way, why would I want to talk to my friends over the radio when I can do it using my cellphone?”.
Getting the message to the youth these days could not be all that difficult, what with the same Internet that we Hams think is working against us. I came to the conclusion that the Internet is the best thing ever to happen to Amateur Radio, it is the second most effective advertising agent for Ham Radio. The opportunities on the Web to make people aware of this hobby are just staggering: personal Ham Websites, Blogs and advertisements covering every facet of the hobby are to be found in their thousands. The problem with getting Ham Radio to the youth however, is not lack of information, it is rather a lack of awareness. People don’t know that a world wide hobby that is nearly a century old covering all aspects of electronics and related communications exists in most developed cities across the world. We can only solve this problem of making the youth aware of Ham Radio by going to them where we can find them in their natural habitat – educational centers.
Our number one advertising method should be to reach out to the youth at their schools all over the world. We have to physically demonstrate our hardware and how to operate and even build the stuff, we have to boast and brag about ourselves and our doings. We have to negotiate with schools, colleges and universities regarding the possibility of having Amateur Radio related subjects, and even the Ham-exam syllabus lectured at their facilities. Let us have clubs established at these learning infrastructures for the youngsters, their teachers and lecturers. I don’t think there is a better way to reach the younger generation. To get our hobby out of obscurity we have to first make our future young members aware that we exist – we should not hide away in our Ham shacks, any-more. Let us all take this opportunity to boldly, proudly and with confidence promote our wonderful hobby to each and every one we encounter in our daily doings. I know that the above method works, I have experienced its success in my own community, a technical school with its own Ham club and very, very proud young Ham members in my own neighborhood.
Vic – ZS6EA