Our hobby in 30 years?

Although I cannot speak for other countries, here in the UK ours is a hobby mainly of older people and mainly men.  When I was fitter, I gave several talks to local radio clubs in East Anglia and without exception, it was mainly OAPs who came along. OK, there were a few youngsters and women, but the vast majority were older men.

Amateurs and SWLs are a dying breed unless we can attract young people into the hobby. I am 67 and will be dead within 30 years, probably a lot sooner. An aging population will not buy so many rigs, will not support magazines etc. Numbers will fall, activity will fall, interest will drain away.

In 20-30 years we will be very much in uncharted territory. What will our hobby be like in years to come?

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

6 Responses to “Our hobby in 30 years?”

  • Peter G0EYR:


    I do agree wholeheartedly with your comments, here in Taunton we are currently training seven for their Foundation license which they will sit on the 4th April, certainly three of them are retired but the youngsters are our life blood and we need to keep them on side.
    The plan is that we are going to split our monthly meetings and have both a beginners segment (some of us can use some revision!)and the remainder of of our time on subjects of a more general nature. We are in the process of upgrading our website to accommodate the newbies and I have recently been approached by a local commercial broadcaster to participate in a hobbies forum.
    One of my colleagues is participating in coding for local children and I am trying to sort out my Raspberry Pi!
    Tim Peake and the ISS contacts are generating interest (see letters column in April Radcom) but the onus is on us to keep up the momentum and not to see the hobby ultimately fail.

  • David - N4FSI:

    Maybe my own story will be of some contribution to figuring a response to G3XBM’s thoughtful observations: I earned my license as a young teenager in high school. I was moderately active for a few years. But higher education and life commitments drew me away from this hobby, as from many other enjoyable activities. After thirty years QRT I returned, making me, I guess, one of the “old men” in the hobby. If this story is at least partially representative, I wonder if having robust numbers of hams in their 20s to 50s is a goal too lofty, and energy is best spent on outreach to the school-aged and the older, who have key resources (time and curiosity) to invest more freely than the age group in between.
    This thought doesn’t address the other missing component G3XBM identifies, women in the hobby. That requires a different approach for another comment. 73, David

  • Kyle N4NSS:

    I think the gene pool for ham radio is in the age bracket of 38-60’s since they ae settled in life so-to-speak. The kids will be preoccupied for sometime. The other option is to inspire prospective hams to see the magic of radio or what I call, the mystique of radio.
    One important thing to remember, just because we won’t be around, it is no excuse not to try to inspire someone to the hobby, it is our legacy to do so.

  • Dave NT9E:

    If your club does not have at least a Facebook page you are missing out on attracting the younger generation. My club has a website and I am admin for our club’s FB page. Social media is everything to the younger generation.

    Dave NT9E

  • Driss CN8VY:

    I agree with you 100%.
    Ham is missing one after the other all the game-changing opportunities: the wifi-wireless revolution, Drones becoming general consumer goods, solar and alternative energy, the need of a fitter lifestyle (trecking and extreme sports), the global outcry for Solidarity, etc
    All the items I have mentioned here are of concern to men, women, kids all over the world. We ham are unable to contribute seriously to them and “surf” the wave and get newbies. Let me make myself clear with one example. If you go to a public park anywhere in North America or Europe, set up a small solar panel or a wind generator, start using a small radio to send GPS data or weather bulletrins, you will get a lot a lot a lot of attention and interest. You will see teens and young active adults come and ask you about the set up. Initially, they don’t care at all about RF. They are attracted by the solar stuff and the resilience to power shortage. This is the good starting point to convert may be 10% of them to ham.

    take care and keep sharing with us your ideas!

  • Alex (none):


    I just wanna say, I am 25 years old going on 26 in May, my grandfather was a ham, but has long since passed in 2006. I would love to get into amateur radio, ever since I accidently discovered how to transmit to the AM band. Ever since then I’ve had my very own very short range pirate radio station.

    I would like to get into the hobby, but I feel like the whole hobby has dried up and that no one cares considering the Internet as the main for of communication these days.

    I’ve tried looking into clubs, but see that the whole thing is a ghost town in my area surprising for NYC, at least I think the whole thing is a ghost town in my area.

    Right now I just wanna listen in on HAM radio, but haven’t a clue as to what type of radio I would need. I thought having a simple shortwave radio would be enough, I’m just now finding out that’s there’s possible chatter beyond the shortwave band.

    I just wanna give notice though, HAM will not be forgotten.

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