Where are Those New Hams Coming From?
The Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association just completed another successful Technician license class resulting in 21 new Technicians plus one person that passed both the Technician and General exams. We survey the class a week or two later to get their feedback and capture some demographic information. In recent years, our Technician class has consistently filled to capacity, causing us to ask the question “Where are those new hams coming from?”
The key relevant question on the survey is:
I’ve abbreviated the response choices so they read better on the graph. For example, “Comms during disasters/event” actually says “For communications during disasters or other major events” on the survey. These 18 responses represent over half of the students so they are representative of the class. However, it is a small sample size overall, representing just one class at one time at one location in the US. I will add that the surveys from our other classes are similar.
The two highest responses, both with 67%, are Comms During Disasters/Event and Backcountry Comms. It was no surprise that communications during a disaster would be a prime motivation for getting a ham radio license. Per FCC Part 97, this is one of the stated purposes of the Amateur Radio Service. Here in Colorado, many people have had the recent experience of wildfires disrupting communications causing them to look for alternatives. In general, the prepper movement is causing people to think in terms of disaster preparedness. Communications in the backcountry includes hikers, climbers, fishermen, dirt bike riders, four-wheel drive enthusiasts and anyone who spends time in the mountains. There are many locations in Colorado that don’t have cellphone coverage, so people are looking for alternative communications. This is likely a regional phenomenon…I don’t think you’d see “backcountry communications” on the short list of amateur radio interest is downtown Chicago.
Radio as a hobby gathers 50% of the responses, followed by 39% interested in learning about radio communications. This says that about half of the students are pursuing ham radio as a hobby. I wonder if this is different that the historical average from 20 years ago? I suspect it used to be higher but I don’t have any data to support that. This would likely be a leading indicator for how many of these new licensees get deeply involved in ham radio activities. I have seen students start out with a narrow focus on emergency preparedness but then discover there’s a lot more to ham radio that they choose to pursue.
What do you think about these results?
73, Bob K0NR
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I’d be curious to hear what the “other” 22% specify in their comments. Also, I wouldn’t discount backcountry comms as being regional. Plenty of us suburbanites enjoy getting out of town on the weekend, and for me personally, radio plays a role in that adventure.
As much time as the hobby “invests” in the Scouts, it’s telling to me that’s the smallest response. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Every member of our militia is required to get a HAM radio license. We participate in AmRRON nets.
Engineers, like me. Getting heavily involved in DSRC (5.9Ghz for automotive V2V), GPS, RF, SDR, BT, WiFi, … Became a HAM to learn more about wireless things and becoming a hobbyist in the process.
There’s gotta be a lot of overlap on those responses. It adds up to over 305%.
My main interest to get my license was C.E.R.T., SkyWarn, and disaster support. But I have always had a strong interest in electronics and in communications, and also when I had my CB radio’s back in the 70’s. But since I got my license, Technician, General, and studying for Extra, I have developed many new connections and friends on the air and in Ham radio clubs in my area, and have learned so much information in a short time.
I suspect that since the 1950’s, there have been many who wanted to get into ham radio as a hobby but their personal economic situation kept them from doing it at the time. Later, though the years, people’s economic situation has improved with the upturn of the economy and by people becoming more into the age where work and a good job was obtained but the urge, the interest in ham radio may have abated with time. What makes this more interesting now is that we have come though a period where the general economy stagnated but if it starts again to flourish, we may well see more and more people getting into the hobby.
Strictly speaking about ham radio in the aspect of technology vs price, we are seeing many radios and ham radio related equipment being offered at a huge reduction to what it cost in the past. However, the technology has also advanced so the price of what we buy now is not as significant as what we can buy now is so much more advanced, more capabilities and features, than what was available in the past. Add to this that it is much more reliable in some says and those who use communications technology will be more and more attracted to ham radio as a form of advanced communication. Those people and companies that encourage this will see the hobby expand in the near future, probably more than it has in previous decades.
What is happening now in ham radio can only benefit all of us. Old techniques using modern means will carry us forward. Complacency is the father of apathy and this is not a feature of our hobby.
Hi Matt thanks for this e-mail,it was my clubs junk sale last Monday,and came away with an unusual radio.It’s a Pye Handy though it doesn’t match the
name.It’s a boot mount Cambridge converted by having a 12volt battery pack attached to its base a on off volume control and squelch with a water proof hinged lid.I discovered in the 60s it was used by the Yourshire police UK
as a scene of crime set in the Yorkshire Dales.