Where Are These New Hams Coming From?


Big Island ARRL News, 27 March 2017, 20:25 hrs, UTC, Post #157.


Accessed on 27 March 2017, 20:25 hrs, UTC.

Author:  Bob Witte (K0NR).

Please click link to read the full story.


I ran across this intriguing article by Bob Witte (K0NR) a few days ago while I was searching for some new ways to increase the public awareness of Amateur Radio.

Bob is a member of the Colorado-based Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association, a club which offers several Technician Class courses every year.  Bob thought it would be a good idea to survey his classes to see just what brought people to Amateur Radio.  The results are interesting, considering the current state of our world.  According to Bob, an interest in emergency and “backcountry communications” seemed to be the largest motivating factor in people getting their Amateur Radio licenses.

Bob provides this analysis:

“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 in 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.”

Whether the same “pitch” could be applied to recruiting more radio amateurs in Hawaii is unknown, but putting Amateur Radio in a framework of supporting first responders and emergency service agencies couldn’t hurt.

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Thanks for joining us today!

Aloha es 73 de

Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)

Public Information Coordinator

Hawaii Island, ARRL Pacific Section

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