What Ham Radio talking points need


Ham radio is a diverse hobby. It’s a technical, engineering, builder, emergency service hobby. But ask most people about ham radio and you get stories of RF interference or a puzzled look followed by a question about 1950. I mean, the Internet obliterated ham radio, didn’t it?

Over at Innismir.net, there is a great dissection of a traditional media article on ham radio from Michigan. And the article isn’t bad. But the end of the post notes this:

Any press is good press they say and getting the hobby out to the general public is a good thing, so props to the Midland ARC for getting coverage and getting a few juicy tidbits out there. However, we, as a hobby, need to work on some talking points on some of the more “exciting” points of Ham Radio. We also apparently need to work on our comparisons.

So what should our talking points be to the traditional media? Here’s a few suggestions:

Ham radio embraces many interests

If we’re a diverse hobby, it should be an advantage. If you are an engineer, you can design antennas, stations or software. If you are a builder, there are kits. If you like the outdoors, you can take radio with you. If you like competition, we have contests. If you like public service, we have it in spades.

The great thing about a diverse hobby is that if you get tired of one thing (DXing, for example), you can learn about a whole different thing (say digital modes) while still staying within the hobby. It’s not like you love trains, then get disinterested, leave your club and friends there, and start over so you can try out planes. Nope. You just start working in this new area.

Ham radio helps the public

While this is the traditional public service message we have, we need to mix in much more of what we have done to advance emergency work. We have an imbedded methodology through ARES that gives us a good process. We have practice sessions to support local emergency teams. We have built digital communications to improve our work with emergency providers. And, yes, when all else fails, we can still get through because of our multiple frequency antennas.

Whether it is Katrina or the Space Shuttle or the local walk for charity, ham radio operators perform in their role of supporting emergency communications and public service.

Ham radio is fun

Sorry, I’m not into something for the drudgery. The numbing going forward of work on stuff that doesn’t even remotely excite me. Whether it is the friendships you develop over time and on the air or investigating a new part of the hobby or meeting up with your buddies in the ham radio club, ham radio is fun. As soon as it isn’t fun, it’s time to try something else in the hobby…because we have a diverse hobby.

What else? What do you think our talking points need when that microphone gets pointed at us for some answers?

  • Scot,

    Excellent article about talking points. AB9RF tweeted this article and I am happy he has because I enjoy following others on twitter who are hams. (@firewolfsblog btw) I got my ham license in 2000 in Seattle where I earned KD7III and even though I now reside in Minnesota I have kept that callsign and will continue to do so because I am always happy to discuss this “hobby” with others, and share where I got my callsign from.



  • I like that you included the comment on fun. It struck me that the current ARRL ham radio promotional materials almost miss the fun completely. On the ARRL’s wedothat-radio.org site there are quotes from hams under the, “Why I Love It” link who focus more on the fun of radio over the technical and emergency service aspects of amateur radio. All of my friends who like ham radio like the hobby because it’s fun, not because they feel bound by duty to operate a radio in an emergency. It’s a FUN hobby with diverse interests and a broad spectrum of enthusiasts where anyone can find a group to fit into. That’s the appeal of amateur radio to me.

  • To complete what Don said, i would like to add that all hobbies are FUN! That is why we have hobbies: to interact with people who share our interest, to relax, to enjoy ourselves, to do something that we can not do in the rest of the time when we work, etc ..in a word, for FUN. maybe the most important part of the description above is the part with “Ham radio is fun”

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