21 May 2016

Even fewer G3 calls

In the Silent Keys list in June RadCom I see another 4 G3 stations have died. Most months there are 4-6 who have died. My G3XBM call was issued in December 1967. Some date much earlier, probably just after WW2?  If the G3s are a dying breed then those issued between the wars must be even rarer. In 20 years there will be very few of us left. There is a real chance that our hobby will just die unless the younger generation is enthralled.  I very much hope I am wrong.

Young people get excited by different things. As a youngster, amateur radio was the only way to communicate around the world. TV was limited to Europe. Short-wave was magic: hearing Radio Australia with heavy QSB early in the morning was very exciting.  These days young people can video conference for nothing with any part of the world. No, amateur radio is no longer magic as it was to me. Getting my G3 call was a passport to worldwide communications. This is no longer the case.

We are not alone: many churches seem to be totally unattractive to young people and the bulk of their congregations are old women. In time, these will die and these churches will die too. There are some exceptions.


Todd Dugdale said...

Yeah, I've got to totally agree with you on the "magic" of HF. I work with, teach, and otherwise associate with a lot of under 30 'kids' (and several teens). When I mention amateur radio, they immediately think of HF operation (those that even are familiar with the term, that is). There's no excitement or curiosity about it whatsoever. The only question I ever get asked is, "WHY would someone want to do that?". The whole thing seems completely stupid to them, completely backward, and as "high-tech" as a blacksmith making horseshoes. And, given the current technological context, it really is.

We have a whole lot of people in ham radio coming from the pre-internet, pre-cellphone days (like me), and it's *completely delusional* to think that anyone in the current context would feel the same way as us. Yet, we still keep pushing the 'excitement' of long distance communication as if it's still 1970. Glad to see that you realise this -- most hams don't.

Instead of gushing about how you can talk to people far away, we should be pitching ham radio as as a way to meet new and interesting people, regardless of how far away they are. Things like DMR allow you to connect to people all over the world with an HT for cheap. The problem is the lack of "interesting people". If you try to talk about anything other than radios, you'll hit a brick wall. And this whole notion is rejected out of hand by hams as "turning it into CB".

So, we march and dodder into irrelevance, telling each other that the 'kids' are keen to get in on the hobby, and smirking at non-hams as idiots. It's sad, really.
- KD0TLS Plymouth, MN USA

Anonymous said...

Amateur radio can be a bit like a sport and offer's something that just video conferencing doesn't give.

With religion, that's just turned into the philosophy of if there is somekind of creator, maybe.

I dont think ham radio will be lost though, it ebbs and flows.


Todd Dugdale said...

When the combustion engine replaced riding on horseback, did the 'kids' all get horses to enter competitions? Riding on horseback "offers something" that driving a car "doesn't give", too. Yet, owning a horse and using it as your main source of transportation is ridiculously expensive and impractical. Sure, *some* people still ride horses. But *those* people aren't glibly and delusionally claiming that the 'kids' are crazy about horseback riding, want to enter horsemanship competitions, and are dying to own horses if only someone teaches them. Even more to the point, those people aren't pitching horse ownership as something for 'emergencies'.

Of course, the typical response is a "binary" one: ham radio will not be "lost". It will still exist. So therefore, it will remain relevant and popular. It's the last part that gets crazy. We're throwing away the chance to make a reasonable transition by lying to ourselves (and each other) that everything will continue as it has before.

Archery was replaced by firearms, for example. Sure, *some* people still engage in archery. That doesn't mean that it's as relevant and popular as it was three centuries ago, does it? It's not "lost". It "ebbs and flows". Big deal. You're making a meaningless distinction.

I taught archery to actual kids for years. I didn't pitch it as popular, elitist, high-tech, competitive, necessary for self-defence or something for 'emergencies'. It was something that you could do outdoors without getting a team together, it was quiet, enjoyable, and required more concentration than it did strength. You know what? It worked! No crazy delusions required.

By defining amateur radio as almost exclusively HF operation, we've doomed it to irrelevance. We're blacksmiths making horseshoes for horses that don't exist, and we point to people pitching them as a game as some kind of ridiculous 'proof' that horseback riding will make a comeback with the 'kids'.

I enjoy amateur radio. It's the elitism, the arrogance, and the delusions that have been *bundled along with it* that make it something *less than enjoyable*, however. But, as long as two guys are talking on the radio somewhere, we're going to continue to bundle all of that toxic rubbish in with the positive points. Because the hobby isn't "lost", so therefore it's okay. And it's still 1970.

How do you pitch religion? You talk about the positive aspects of being part of a community with shared values. You talk about the structure and meaning it gives to your life, and how that helps you deal with adversity. You tell people that they aren't alone.

What you *don't* do is smirk at the non-believers as inferior and too stupid to do what it takes to be a an active part of the community of faith. And you surely don't tell yourself that people will join to compete with their neighbours in exercises of piety. And, if they do join, you don't bellow at them that they're "doing it wrong". Yet, this is exactly what we do in amateur radio.