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YOUNG PEOPLE and Amateur Radio

Daniel Bartlett (vk4tdb) on August 18, 2000
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Have you ever noticed that our hobby is dying a slow and unfortunate death? What about the fact that the Ham Radio population is an ageing one? Well, don't just stand there - do something about it! Young people today (such as myself) need to be drawn into amateur radio. "But they only like computers", you may say. So give them computers! SSTV, Packet (at higher speeds than 1200 Baud) and computer-controlled scanners are just some of the things I can come up with. Also, talk about things that may sound interesting. If people want a weather report, they will listen to the news. If they want to hear about your health problems over and over, they'll become a doctor! We should stop worrying about how the Internet and the loss of morse code is killing Amateur Radio, and instead think about taking this hobby up to its maximum potential. Go out and USE the microwave bands, or even the LF bands for something different. It is really great to hear contacts from far away on 'strange', or less used modes. Remember - young people want the best of the best, and we have the capacity to give it to them!

Member Comments: Add A Comment
Young People and Ham radio Reply
by KC2DVD on August 19, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
It isn't so much that Young people aren't interested in Radios. It has more to do with popularity! When I was 17 a friend of mine showed me his radio, and license. The next day I went out and got the book to study for the test. I'm 19 now, and I am still interested in Ham Radio. In fact I will be taking my General Class License exam Sept 5th.

You ever ask someone if they know what ham radio is? Most of the time you'll get a blank look on their faces, and some ask "Is it like CB?"

The Internet is a HUGE topic on the media. If ham radio would have at least 10% of that exposure we wouldn't have to worry about our hobby. Even in that Stupid movie "Frequency". We all thought finally we are going to get some exposure!!! Remember when he took out the radio and the kid was so excited! And the kid asks his father..what is ham radio? And the father says..its something that people used way back, and no one uses it anymore. yeah right....
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by vk4tdb on August 20, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I hope you go well on your exam - I wish you the best of luck! Talking about publicity, why don't a few of you club secretaries out there advertise your next club meeting in your local newspaper. You could invite people who know nothing about Amateur Radio to come along, and give them information packs etc. Also, you might want to have a station set up for them to try...
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
Anonymous post on August 21, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I agree>>> I too.... at age 34 never heard of ham radio. Only after asking an electrical engr neighbor to help me build an amp for 11 meters did I hear for the first time of ham radio. After learning from this friend and licensed ham what radio is all about did I gain an appreciation for our hobby. If we don't share with those we know, we will be stuck talking to ourselves. Now we have three licenses in our family and working on number 4. Success can be measured many ways....

more thoughts for the computers<>ham radio l Reply
by N4ZR on August 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
There are lots of other angles.... propagation prediction, antenna modeling, PSK31 and other digital modes, all done with really cool software. but even more to the point, we should play up the sport of it all. Of course, you can take the Staten Island ferry, but when you want to have fun you use your own sailboat, and depend on the wind and weather to get you there. To me, the romance and appeal of HF radio is exactly the same thing.

Another thought -- with the explosion of wireless Internet, cellphone/PCS and so on, there is a crying need for people who know how to put a transmitter on the air, troubleshoot an antenna installation. Ham radio can be sold as a vehicle for transition into an excellent career in that field, just as it used to lead to careers in radio and tV.
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by i4jmy on August 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Ham radio is not only an hobby, it's a lifestyle.
Like an hobby it's too much demanding in terms of efforts and expenses for the large majority of young people, a large majority that has now other sympler alternatives to spend time and have fun with less deal and money.
Moreover young people want everything and can't wait, but ham radio, to be understood and appreciated, is a long and difficult way to be followed in steps.
A nearly world wide communication service, easily available and at a fractional prices compared with a medium Ham station and with no problems (neighboors, TVI, BCI, local rules, antenna crash, etc. etc.) doesn't help the situation.
The easy chance to talk or send messages/files to everyone worldwide and without the need of efforts and examinations is another point that stealed away the romantic appeal of Ham radio, an appeal that once "called" a lot of people in approaching our hobby.
If communication itself is not any more the interests catalyzer, some specialized ham activities that can't be replaced (other than surrogates) are available and still have an appeal, at least to who has a certain mind orientation.
I think about contesting because the competition is in the human nature, antennas for who likes manual and brain activity, the equipment mods , and all the rest that is still unique in our demanding but fantastic hobby.
Like it or not, the number of Ham Radio population is inevitably voted to decrease because no one else than really interested people will approach Ham Radio and the occasionals will disapper (or they are already disappeared).
The point is just in enhancing (promoting) those specialyzed activities and using all the possible ways to reach the people who is a potential Ham but doesn't know we are existing.
To promote Ham Radio, associations and individuals should behave and activate themselves under the perspective to increase the space they give to special Ham activities so making a better investments into having a future.
Internet as a communicating tool is a great help, home computers could be also a smart starting point but in both cases what has to be pointed out to potential newcomers is that those unique aspects/activities of ham radio can't be done otherwise and "surrogates" finally have a bad taste.
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by W5AJ on August 27, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Most do not understand the joy of RF and Radio.
Here are some thoughts:
1. Help a school with Sarex!
2. Kids have a difficult time with equipment. Help the club that supports a club station for students. Setup a club station. Have the students over for M/S (or M/M?) contest weekend. Let them operate.
3. Support the local club that is doing all the training and VEC effort.

73 & Good DX, Robert
Ham Radio as Sport Reply
by K5IQ on September 1, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I have come to believe that the problem doesn't so much rest in young people not being interested in Amateur Radio as it does--as several folks have noted--in their not even KNOWING about the hobby.

Time was, just about everyone knew somebody or had a relative involved with ham radio. As I recently posted on this site's sister webpage (, within the last month I have had two college-age interns at my office who had never, ever heard of Amateur Radio. I had to try to explain the concept of a radio hobby/service from the ground up.

It is incumbent on each of us to be an ambassador for the hobby, to promote the fun, the magic, the fascination inherent in ham radio. Because of the competition involved, CONTESTING can be one of the best attractions to a newcomer. After all, despite its essentially non-athletic bent, contesting is basically a sporting event; it pits competitor against competitor, team against team, and self against self. And, after a long weekend in the shack, even if you don't win per se, you still have the satisfaction of having participated.

While folks argue over whether or not Field Day is a contest, it is often the first exposure that many folks have to the notion of making as many contacts with as many people as possible in a given period of time. From my experience, this usually proves to be an activity to which many--including those with no ham radio experience--can readily relate.

Ham radio hasn't given up the ghost just yet, but it is changing. We, as hams, have got to meet the challenge of doing a better job of promoting the hobby, of "selling" Amateur Radio. This includes the concept of ham radio as sport, an aspect that separates this activity from other communications hobbies (including Net surfing), and which is one of its most appealing.
Encouraging Young People Reply
by KB3EIS on September 18, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I took my 5 WPM code test this past Saturday at a nearby Hamfest. My son, Greg, licensed as KB3EJX, is 10 and went along to shop for some parts while I was testing, and my wife went along to support all of this. My son wore his badge from the Reading Radio Club, which showed his handle and callsign, to indicate his interest and membership in the hobby.

When we arrived, we discovered that the HamFest was not running according to the posted schedule, which meant that my wife and son were left to their own devices while I was testing. When I came out of test, an hour and a half later, I could see from their expressions that all had not gone well.

They were standing with a group of amateurs near a table that had some equipment on it with two operators who were trying to get a demonstration working. I asked my son if they were doing a direction finding display and he responded that he had overheard that they were, but that no one would respond to his questions. My son and I have been doing a fair amount of Fox Hunting this year, so I know that his questions are likely to be relevant. In this case, he wanted to know what a "Loafer" was, as this is what they were trying to take a bearing on. I looked up, caught the eye of one of the amateurs setting up the demo, asked what a loafer was and was given a sincere reply.

As we left that room, we stopped just short of the door so my wife and son could go to the bathroom. While they were occupied, I became engaged in a conversation with two other amateurs. When my wife and son returned, I said goodbye, the other amateurs replied with something like a pleasant "see you soon" which caused my wife to mutter a sharp "Not very likely!". It seems that these two, and others present, had been completely unwilling to talk to either my wife or my son. Even my son's inquiries about the status of the HamFest had apparently received only a very terse, "It's tomorrow.".

Now, we know that not all amateurs behave this way. In fact, the Reading Radio Club has gone out of its way to support my son's interest (to the point of issuing and enforcing a child-safe clean language policy on the repeater that would shame Disney). But if this is how we respond to kids that have already made the effort to study for and pass the tests, it's no wonder that kids go elsewhere.

I know that not everyone welcomes children my son's age into the hobby, but this is the age when children find magic in radio and have the time to invest in it. My son became interested in radio as a way to create his own Internet (because he couldn't find a way to fund registering his own domain name). At Field Day, he wanted to set up a weather satellite station to provide the latest water vapor images (since, in an emergency, we might be able to receive the Weather Channel).

My son has discovered that his callsign is the key to tools that help him master the world around him; his HT can be a phone, a distress signal, a location finder, a tracker and a data source. And he is learning how to use it to gain access to information for the price of his time, rather than having to pay a monthly bill.

Not every child sees this on his own. Its up to us to show them. And we can't show children this if we won't even talk to them. So, when you cross paths with someone who isn't in the hobby watching you when you're on a Fox Hunt or at a HamFest, take a moment, say hello and tell them "We're doing ...". If they're interested, they'll ask "What's that?". And maybe your club will have a new member.
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by WP3CO on October 14, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
It's true there a lot of Bands that we are not using. Hi Im WP3CO my name is Jonathan and I live In Puerto Rico. I got my Technician License when I was 14 years old (now 16 -General, soon Extra) But I had to find out for myself, nobody told me about Ham Radio. I started on CB radio because of a friend, but then I started to see other people with another types of radios and when I asked them If those where CB's or my usually type of Question "What's ur handle" (well some of you may laugh)and I was suspicius about those different Radios. But If it wasn't by asking here and there, I wouln't found out. So I got my Study Materials and Got the license. But now I think hey we can't let our hobbie die, we got to tell everybody (well not everybody, but you get the picture) about HAM RADIO give them Radio Fever <wooo>. Ohhh and about the other band's ? Well we got to use them, The FCC is taking away our Frequencies. But why? They take our Frequencies and We get mad. But it's our fault. USE IT OR LOOSE IT. WE got to try out new modes, new things, We got to battle the Internet. Because it's taking away Amateur Radio Operators. We got to show them How cool is to communicate with another person in the other side of the World, And proved them that is better than the Internet. OK you CAN communicate with another guy in the other side of the World by Internet and you don't need a license for that, But that is just to easy. Show them Digital Modes something to cry about and hang again on the Computer But with a better reason and For FREE. Hey No wonder HAM RADIO IS BETTER IT'S FREE AND WHEN THE POWER DROPS OUT YOU CAN'T TURN ON THE INTERNET AND CHAT WITH UR FRIEND IN CHINA, BUT WITH WITH HAM RADIO YOU CAN (well maybe, if the conditions are good). HAM RADIO BE ALL YOU CAN BE ......oh ouh Sorry that's the ARMY. Here we go again HAM RADIO TALK ALL YOU CAN TALK....just kidding.! Until next time!
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by kc9fje on January 30, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hey i just wanted to add on to your guy's subject. im 14 and im a tech licensee, as of jan 24 2004,and im planing on getting some friends into the hobby. so even though young ham radio operaters are few and far between there are still some out there.
RE: Young People and Ham radio Reply
by kc0pqj on November 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
On the topic of young hams....

Visit for an IRLP youth net.

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