Nick N1IC – How to Save Ham Radio – 5 Part Series (Part 1)

When I was sitting back remembering how Ham – Amateur – Radio changed my life the other day it is a pretty remarkable story. I think my story is for another time but thinking about it made me want to sit back and give back to the hobby that I love so much and has done so much for me.

The best way I thought today was to think of ways we could work together and Save Ham Radio together. I of course am in no way saying I have all the ideas or answers and I would love to hear from others but I thought I would start with my opinions.

Ham Radio isn’t dead for sure:

But are we doing all we could to promote Ham Radio to a generation that loves technology. They are glued to their tables and smartphones – they love to text and communicate. I bet – with the right motivation and experiences many of them would be interested in Ham Radio.

Over the next few weeks I am going to sit down and provide the roadmap that I have followed to help give exposure to others on radio, the safety and emergency communications aspect and the pure fun of building something new.

My first part of this series is on Sharing Ham Radio News with others:

Part One of Series –


Nick Palomba, N1IC, is a regular contributor to and writes from Florida, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “Nick N1IC – How to Save Ham Radio – 5 Part Series (Part 1)”

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    I’ve been a ham for less than six months, and it’s been a disappointing experience. It also seems that hams themselves have strong delusions about how their hobby is seen by non-hams.
    In a world where you can easily speak to someone virtually anywhere on the planet with clarity (phones and internet), the idea of DX seems kind of dumb. It’s kind of like churning your own butter – nothing wrong with that, but why???
    The advantage that ham radio has is that you can talk to people that you don’t already know. Yet, far too many hams are anti-social; they won’t talk to people that aren’t in their circle of friends. And, as the linked article points out, it’s largely old people getting into the hobby. Nobody under 30 wants to hear about wingnut politics and geriatric health problems, but that’s what’s on the menu.
    I’d also contend that most hams don’t really want more people to become hams – or at least, they only want the “right sort” to. The “right sort”, of course, are people extremely similar to themselves. They seem to be obsessed with ham radio turning into CB, even as CB has long ago ceased to exist as a “thing”.
    There’s also a pallor of deadly seriousness that most hams don’t even notice. It’s a hobby, not the military. Lives aren’t at stake.
    I’ll stay in amateur radio, but this idea that it can be “sold” is laughable. It’s going to slowly die out, and hams will be fighting to keep it “exclusive” to the bitter end.

  • W5AMU:

    I have two 13 year old boys and their friends are not ‘hard core’ interested but they thought it was SO COOL that I could hear ham sat transmissions using a tape measure antenna. They were also impressed that a guy in Duluth sounded like he was in our Texas living room. I view this like farming. You plant seed, tend to your planting a in HOPE that it bears fruit with no guarantees.

  • Todd, you’re going to encounter a lot of delusional amateurs and ones who see amateur radio as just what they do. I’ve been in amateur radio almost 30 years now and at times I become dismayed. (I’m a 40 something and I don’t like wingnut politics.) But I’m not going anywhere either. It is a great hobby, in spite of some of its less desirable elements.

    I tend to explain the zen of amateur radio to outsiders with an analogy to fishing:


  • Jason VE3MAL:

    Hams should not feel any particular *need* to save the hobby. Simply by having fun and being courteous, a ham can ensure that their net impact on the development of the hobby is a positive one. People should, however, rethink their strategy if they think that walling off what Amateur radio is “about” is a good idea. There is nothing more disparaging than hams complaining about corners of the hobby that they don’t enjoy themselves. The CW requirement strangled the hobby for far too long by almost equating Amateur radio with radiotelegraphy. Now that that is gone, you have younger hams like myself learning it out of interest instead of requirement, but we still have forums full of people ready to jump on people who want to use their HTs while hang-gliding, or who want to do high-bitrate microwave digital, or just digital in general, or look too much like a whacker, etc. When people see a limitless hobby where people are having fun, they will want to join in.

    I don’t mean to sound negative. The total opposite. This website features people simply having fun with radio, without judgment or wall building. It’s exactly the type of thing that is needed

  • Jason VE3MAL:

    I’d also like to add that there’s no reason to believe it’s going to go away. There is *absolutely no commercial interest* in any of the bands below 6 meters (or above 10Ghz or so), and the licence numbers are fine. Worst case scenario, a corrupted government may sell off all our VHF-hi and UHF bands, and may give up on enforcement, but even that won’t kill the hobby.

  • ^^^^
    What he said!

    I agree totally. The best thing someone can do to “save” amateur radio is do what they enjoy, enjoy what they do, and let others do the same.

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    Thanks for that fishing analogy, Anthony. That’s exactly how I feel about ham radio.
    When I got my license, I told everyone that I know. 80% (at least) had *no idea* what amateur radio was. I tried referencing CB, but that was so long ago that nobody even knows what that is any more. When I finally explained what ham radio was, most people asked “why?” or gave me a blank look. There isn’t any untapped interest out there.
    Just look at all of the over-the-top, hysterical fear-mongering there has been about the cheap Chinese HTs. We are supposed to be overwhelmed with all manner of bozos who are the “wrong sort”. It’s not happening because nobody’s interested. That doesn’t make it dumb or worthless, but it makes it impossible to “sell” to the average person.

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    Jason, it depends on how you define “dead”. When you go for weeks with nobody on any local repeater, it’s dead. When you run into the same dozen people on HF, and nobody else, it’s dead. When there’s nobody to talk to, your radio is worthless. We aren’t there yet, but the “license numbers” are being propped up by senior citizens, who tend to die. And you really have to wonder how many of those 700k actually get on the radio even once a month. My boss is a ham (an Extra) who keeps his license renewed, but he hasn’t touched his rig in nearly ten years. I hear on the local repeaters all the time about hams who haven’t been heard from in months. I talked to a guy last week who hadn’t been on the air in three months. There are at least three repeaters near me that have never had anyone on them (as far as I’ve heard) for six months. Licenses don’t talk; people do.

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