My Last Post Ever Regarding ARRL?

In the past I’ve been a strong proponent of ARRL.  I often mentally tied the past and future success or failure of amateur radio to the organization.  I’ve come to the conclusion that this just isn’t the case, and in my evolving opinion the organization is becoming less relevant as time goes on.  The elected leadership hierarchy to me seems archaic.  I tend to doubt the slate of new blood “change” candidates which got elected will change much, as long as the majority of ARRL leadership, and to some extent the general population of amateurs in the US, continues to have the demographic makeup that it does.  My life membership has essentially become a good deal on a perpetual magazine subscription, assuming that I don’t get hit by a bus anytime soon.  I’m convinced it’s non-centralized grass roots efforts from individuals that are going to make or break amateur radio in the coming decades.

So, one of my 2019 “amateur radio resolutions” is to stop worrying and pontificating about ARRL, and be that individual that leads my own grass root effort.

Anthony, K3NG, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com.

16 Responses to “My Last Post Ever Regarding ARRL?”

  • John KU8Q:

    I too have not been a real fan of ARRL leadership in recent years. However, I think the most recent elections show a grass roots effort to make changes in the Good Ole Boys Club that existed in the ARRL leadership, with more new blood to come. Additionally, the hiring of a new CEO who is an active builder and ham with experience at non-profit work is a breath of fresh air if he is allowed to carry out his ideas. We have all become entrenched in old ways and it takes something like this to issue a wake-up call to those in office. The previous board members made a mess while trying to control elections and those elected to the board. I would hope this is a good sign and also hope that this was not “your last post ever” concerning the organization.

  • Larry,I N1LFG:

    I think you are jumping the gun way to fast.

    As our hobby expands, it it will get better. the ARRL is changing with every QST issue..
    Look at the CEO editorial. It is right on the money.. Technology is expanding theHam wo rod. Just look at DMR. Talk about giving Ceomotose 2m band new life with no limits….TRY IT; You will like it..

    73, N1LFG

  • Ken, KØKS:

    Newly licensed hams don’t see anything they like with ARRL so don’t join. That leaves a bunch of stodgy old 1X2 call guys to vote and be officers. Without the new hams on board it will not change and membership will not increase.

    I love the new hams. I can fix their antennas and they explain Microsoft SW to me.

  • Rich W1GBB:

    Magazine articles interesting sometimes regarding equipment, projects, DXpeditions. But mostly adverts, contesting results, regional stuff, I’m not too keen on. Not at all interested in ARRL political stuff. Maybe someone should start a new magazine with more history, stories, new equipment, far flung radio adventures. Something like the boating and aviation mags.
    Am new operator, but retired old guy.

  • Sam K6RXK/7:

    Being licensed since the mid 50’s, I can say from experience the ARRL like Amateur Radio, is very trendy, very diversified. A highly technical hobby, well covered by the ARRL/QST. The type of hobby that can be varied to ones technical tastes and interests. I think the League, has done well to satisfy the interests of each and every ham over the years. Yes, “its a good old boys club” simply because, like so many other bobby interest groups, its the same old bunch that do everything. Those that want to see specific changes, should get involved.
    73’s de Sam/7

  • Jim Erickson:

    You could lead a local grassroots effort to improve your local aid ARRL section

  • John WD1V:

    The elephant in the room is that new products and modes of operation that get enthusiastically purchased by the ham market are the drivers of our culture. And right now, there aren’t a lot of new products that make much sizzle. We need a next big thing. Then the focus won’t be on ARRL leadership or membership but on peeling back the workings of that next big thing and letting all of us know and grow. There are several large opportunities that remain untapped. So save your money and wait patiently for the next big wave.

    73
    John WD1V

  • Walt N5EQY:

    I cant put my finger on it, but where is the interest that once was a driving force for me and others that was fostered by QST magazine. I find myself reading one or two articles that vaguely catch my interest and toss the mag in the pile of QST’s in the garage. Makes me wonder, where is Wayne Green and 73 magazine?? Dang I loved that magazine, it taught me infinitely more than i ever learned from QST, in fact it was the driving force that got me licensed. I still read the remaining 73 mags i have from years past when i need a wee bit of motivation. It was definitely controversial at times but it sure made me think and build. Keep on keeping on ya’ll, its still a fun hobby.

  • JIM VE3DDY:

    Walt,
    Ive been of that opinion for the last 60 years
    Jim VE3DDY

  • Clark AK4GJ:

    I feel similarly, and had let my ARRL membership lapse for the final time several years ago. It wasn’t only that QST had less and less that interested me; the ARRL did seem to be getting more like an “old boys’ club” and less an organization truly representing hams. I too had enjoyed Uncle Wayne’s 73 magazine more than I ever did QST, but more to the point I didn’t feel like the ARRL was representing guys like me, who just want to rag chew and hear from others around the world as well as in my own back yard.

    Yes, we do need the new hams in the ARRL if it is to remain relevant, but they aren’t going to join so that they can change it to their liking; it must capture their interest in order for them to join. It doesn’t help that, unlike in earlier years when you could build or buy a rig and have to potential to operate in any mode with anyone on any appropriate frequency, we now have to choose which VHF/UHF+ digital universe to join, to the exclusion of all others (without purchasing another radio), and for the newbies just hope that they find a local group in their new digital universe where they feel comfortable.

    I think the more immediate and real problem is one of amateur radio’s continuing existence. Although I’m an old guy, in my 60’s, I am also a student at a large university, a senior senior (if you will) studying physics. I am surrounded by young bright minds all day, undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in physics, engineering, mathematics, and computer science, among others, and not a one of them has more than a passing awareness that Amateur Radio even exists. On a campus of over 35,000 students, there isn’t even an Amateur Radio club! We know there is plenty of experimenting and research, i.e. playful things for inquiring minds, yet to be done within amateur radio, and with the knowledge and equipment available to us within the university environment, plenty that could be done by these students within amateur radio that would more than peak their interests, but they remain not only unaddressed but unaware.

    One of the premier functions of the ARRL should be to show that it is not only still relevant in this day and age but also interesting. The ARRL that I had left was one that seemed intent upon keeping the status quo: same modes, same games, same old people. Shuffleboard anyone? If I’d gotten bored with QST and thought the ARRL was becoming little more than a social club, then what are the youth of our nation going to find that is attractive to them?

    One last thing… I have always loved the technically oriented portions of QST. I’d also found the “state of the hobby” information useful. But it seemed that more and more of the magazine was dedicated to something for which I have little interest: contesting. OK, that’s just me, but I don’t think today’s youth have any interest in such a thing. Certainly there are exceptions, but the ARRL isn’t supposed to be primarily for the exceptions. A young person today, should he desire to talk to someone in Romania, will just find a chat room with Romanians and have a talk. AND, they can talk about whatever they want to, without the restraints we have in amateur radio such as the limitations on political discussion.

    Should the ARRL become more relevant to today’s hams, peaking interest and stoking the desire to get on the air, and if I’m hearing about it from other Hams (not from the ARRL itself, tooting its own horn), then I’l happily be back, and will sing its praises. Until then, I wish them luck.

    OK, one real last thing. The ARRL isn’t doing themselves any favors when they produce books that fail to address their proposed audience. They have some real good ones, but (for instance) is there even one book aimed at new hams that treats the reader as having interests beyond that of a 13 year old? One of the last ARRL books I’d purchased was for my daughter, 15 at the time. I don’t remember the title, but it was for new potential hams, guiding them towards their Tech license. Maybe it was OK for a 9 year old, or maybe even for an average (today’s average, where there sometimes is no such thing as a “high school reading level”) 15 year old, but it was almost insulting for an adult to read and certainly not only failed to hold the interest of but also actually thwarted her interest in the hobby. She, like those aforementioned students, is a brilliant young person (summa cum laude in chemistry). How can we get those brilliant young minds interested in an old fashioned hobby (that’s where the majority of ARRL’s efforts seem to be, in the old fashioned modes) if we not only fail to show the true potential of the hobby but we also treat those young people like little morons?

    Sorry about the diatribe, but I too am saddened by our hobby’s flailing and by the ARRL’s seeming failure to adequately address it.

  • Mark W4MMR:

    Walt – I miss Wayne, too. 73 was a very interesting magazine that was fun to read. I remember back in the 70s, fueled by interest in CB radio, I looked at some QST magazines in the local library and thought that I would never be interested in such a seemingly esoteric hobby as amateur radio as shown by the magazine. My eyes glazed over with disinterest. Concerning that initial experience in the library, if I had a mentor at that time, the presentation of the hobby may have been more interesting to me and perhaps I would have gotten a license then. The idea here is that QST presented poorly to me then and perhaps it does to others now, also. To me it has not changed with respect to keeping interest level up, even as a technical professional.

    Clark – good luck in your studies. I hope you have a good calculator! As you have found out, there are many interesting things our there that are complimented by the amateur radio hobby that involve the applied sciences. I know that experimenting in technical hobbies has a great tie-in to the work you will be required to do in the program.

  • Michael AF7U:

    I believe Amateur Radio and therefore the ARRL is only a reflection of our collective science interests at large. Oh boy, this isn’t going to be really popular, but I see our complete and total preoccupation with sports and winning in general as what’s draining young people from anything technology related. Not directly, of course, let me explain, I see over and over a huge difference in the level encouragement and support of sports activities and the importance of winning and less and less support of STEM topics and not only in our schools but at home and everywhere we are. Just go into any school, from primary to advance colleges and the emphasis is always on sports more than anything else. Just look at the investment in sports fields, stadiums, equipment, I could go on and on, then take a peek inside the classroom. Teachers struggle with even the most basic tools required to teach anything, much less science, technology, and math. We live in a nation of competitors, everyone’s in a life or death race to be ‘First’ at any silly task. Of course, there can be only ONE first-in-line at the gas pump or the grocery check-out, ah, but if we’re not first then we are perceived as a loser. From our driving skills to our political persuasion, no one wants to be seen as a ‘Loser’, it’s WIN at any cost. Amateur Radio and ergo ARRL is just casualty in that ongoing drama…

  • Neil, w0yse:

    Well, after many years as an ARRL member I decided to QRT the organization. My decision was more about the dues increase than anything else, altho I do agree with several of the above opinions that were written here.

    I always thought that when the digital mag came out that there should be a little bit of a reduction in the dues if one opted out of the mailed magazine. When that did not happen, I just kept on receiving the magazine as the dues kept jumping up (by more than I thought it needed). So, this fall, when the dues jumped from 39 to 49 buks it was the last straw for me.

    I will now just google all the info I need from the internet, which I have done more and more over the past few years.

    73 ARRL, thanks for the memories….
    Neil, w0yse

  • Don Wylie ve2diw:

    Sometimes things don’t change as quickly as we wish,so I suggest that we look at what good the ARRL is doing,& hope other areas improve.I was happy they were there to issue my VUCC for my five Lazer contacts.I hope Anthony reconsiders,& we all continue to work with the ARRL,& continue to support it. Don Wylie ve2diw Bromont Canada

  • ZAL---VU2DK:

    My views are more or less on the lines of what Sam K6RXK/7 has expressed—-the whole scene of Ham radio has changed & is still going to change at top speed so if some of us oldies want to hold on to the jet & keep some of the old hobby alive—we need to jump on to the bandwagon & do our bit—all said & done ARRL is & has been a darn fine organisation—it has seen & produced some great American ham radio operators in the past—one only has to go thru a few QST magazines till about the 1970s & its all there to see & read , not to talk about the excellent homebrew articles.
    So you all need to pitch in & contribute a little bit of the radio era you gone thru !

  • Andy G3PKW:

    Here in the UK the RSGB has entered the same phase
    of the ‘Ham Radio’ scene. The simple answer is
    that the hobby/persuit has changed just like the
    way that society has changed. We buy and sell on
    line the high street shop is declining. People
    have a different attitude to each other today ?
    Perhaps like the old saying ‘Rome is burning’.
    One thing which I do notice is the finite world
    we live in is becoming over-populated so resources
    are being used up, and technology tries to find an
    answer to combat all which that entails.
    Glad I lived as I have !

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