2019 Ham Radio ‘State of the Hobby” Survey

The 2019 State of the Hobby Survey, a comprehensive questionnaire for ham radio operators (and other interested participants), opened this week and will be available throughout March.

Dustin Thomas, N8RMA, got the idea for a comprehensive ham radio survey while browsing Reddit back in 2017. “I started to notice an influx of surveys being posted, almost all in regards to highly specific topics in amateur radio,” he says. “I made sure to complete the surveys but always wondered what the results were. So I decided to host my own survey, make it broad enough for anyone in this diverse hobby (not easy) and publish the results as hard as I solicited responses.”

First licensed in 2014, Dustin upgraded to General in 2015 and looks forward to reaching Extra. His personal ham radio interests include contesting, DX, and Field Day operations. But as he got into the hobby, he wondered where it was headed. They survey is a way for him to make a meaningful contribution toward the hobby’s future.

“I always wanted some baseline questions to compare from year to year, as well as specific issues impacting amateur radio today,” he says. “The State of the Hobby was born.”

Dustin pointed out some highlights — and surprises — from the 2018 State of the Hobby survey:

  • Concerns over HOA’s came in as the third most reported issue (fourth overall as the biggest single issue) yet 75% of respondents reporting not being effected by an HOA
  • Respondents ranked HF award nets (such as 3905 Century Club and OMISS) very low – on par with believing there should be a code requirement for licensing
  • 68% of respondents claimed to have talked with a new ham in the last 12 months
  • DMR seems to be growing in terms of local repeaters, outranking both YSF and D-Star

Why should you bother to take the survey?

“It’s important for independent bodies (independent from the ARRL or commercial organizations with unknown agendas) to solicit and publish the opinions of ham radio operators,” Dustin says.
“This survey will give us insight into what is working and what is not, new or emerging trends in modes or activities, and successful ways to increase membership and licensing.”

He said interest in the survey has surprised him and that several clubs have reached our to say they’ve used insight from the survey to promote ham radio and establish new activities.

Dustin hopes to get more opinions this year from folks who may be studying for their license, or on the fence about whether to get involved. “This year I’ve also included a second for those not yet licensed, but who are interested,” he says. “This will give us a great insight into how new operators are preparing, what works / what doesn’t, and what recently caused them to be interested.”

More information:

2019 survey link:

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at [email protected].

10 Responses to “2019 Ham Radio ‘State of the Hobby” Survey”

  • David WB4ONA:

    Warning. Anything you say in this survey will be known forever by Google. So if this bothers you, steer clear. That said, I weighed the loss of privacy versus the possible benefits and decided to complete the survey. I do believe however that the survey should have a warning up front that it is being hosted on Google spyware.

  • Colin GM4JPZ:

    If he reads this, I would like to thank Dustin for preparing and running this questionnaire. It could be a valuable tool to developing the hobby. I agree with Dave WB4ONA’s misgivings about google spyware, but I too overcame them after balancing the potential dangers/benefits.

  • VA3AOD Robert:

    Unfortunately, because Dustin is not using a random sample of amateurs, his results cannot be generalized the population of American amateurs.

  • Walt N5EQY:

    I dont know if the survey is really useful or not. It is very generalized and somewhat vague to me. There is so much that could be said, but, there are so many varied modes and options the survey could be a book.My biggest concern is the lack of courtesies and really bad attitudes of some small segments of hams who think they “own” a frequency. It seems that the camaraderie of the past (as I knew it) has slipped into the liberal progressiveness of the loud few, especially on the voice modes. I feel that amateur radio will be banned from all but a select few who are favored by govt politicians. Frequencies are $$$.

  • Goody K3NG:

    >It seems that the camaraderie of the past (as I knew it) has slipped into the liberal progressiveness of the loud few, especially on the voice modes


  • Zal----VU2DK:

    The comment by Goody,K3NG makes a lot of sense—-the old school has just about vanished–each one to his or her own & lots of commercialisation has creeped in—gone are the days of helping each other from their junk boxes or for that matter–discussing a simple technical querie—-sad but thats progress in a very high tech modern world !

  • Don - K2PMC:

    I liked the questionnaire. It’s difficult to provide every possible response to every question but, in general, the response options were fine. I don’t believe the author has had much CW experience. There’s a helluva gap between 20 and 60 WPM. Many hams can copy well above 20 but making the next step 60 is a big jump. Unless, of course, all the author was interested in is how many hams can copy >20 WPM. The ARRLs efforts with respect to HOAs has been shot down. I for one can’t get excited about HOAs. There are many beautiful homes in many beautiful locations that are available without HOAs. We found one. It’s a matter of priorities, which is OK with me. I believe amateur radio licenses have increased somewhat. I also believe that is nothing to get excited about. I’ve noticed in our area many people get a Tech license so they can walk around with a Baufong (sp) glued to their ear. The HT then spends most of its time in the charger. Many Extra Class licensees don’t even know how to make a simple antenna. This could be caused by the dumbing down of the licensing tests program conducted by the ARRL to increase their revenue. I still enjoy the hobby and will continue to do so until the end.

  • KC9FDA:

    Hello Brandon here my issue with ham radio is back in the day ham was awesome all ham types helped u in every way possible anything u wanted to learn or get into they were there now it’s 2019 and now a days u never get help you ask an old ham for help learning things you never get it alot of hams are all about themselves and could care about helping someone I think hams have got out of what it really means to be a ham helping in need, teaching, being there when you need them ext I’ve been a ham for a number of years only a tech and I’m never on anymore and they say CB is bad ham is bad to just like CB honestly if I knew ham was going down hill like this I would have never got my license I will never get on ham again and soon cancel my call sign until hams understand what it means to be a ham and some hams think there better then anyone and also equipment is to expensive people now a days can’t even afford food bills ext so how is anyone supposed to move forward in ham there’s alot that bugs me I wanted to put my two cents in thanks 73s

  • Lee Gruber:

    I loved CW and DXing from 1963 thru 70s.LAst time I checked 20mtrs and even 40, it was virtually dead.Do people still QSL? Are there DX pileups?

  • Jim No1PC:

    Are the results of these polls posted? Where?

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