A recent meeting of the minds at our monthly radio league get together started out unlike any other meeting. The president of the club walked in to the meeting carrying a glass punch bowl. This punch bowl was just like the ones you’ve all seen in the movies where some misguided youth pours a fifth of PGA in while the teachers are distracted at prom.
But on this particular night he had something up his sleeve, something that quite possibly had never been done before at any club meeting.
As we called the league meeting to order using the standard parliamentary procedure.. The introduction was “H.A.M RADIO SUCKS!” as the secretary hammered away his meeting notes on a 1970’s model typewriter. Ears’s perked and attention drew to the punch bowl and a huge stack of brightly colored cue cards sitting next to it.
Yes, the meeting was going to be different from all the other meetings that are typically filled with talk of band openings and who purchased the latest and greatest radio.
You see, in recent years the FCC has issued a record number of amateur radio licenses, we have well over 700,000 licensed amateurs in the U.S alone, but the repeaters are just sitting out on their respective hill tops’ wishing they could pickup a tone.
As the FCC certifies more and more radio operators, local club membership continues to slip downward. And even if a club has a few members join here and there the participation rate with those clubs is dismal at best.
Why you ask? Well the punch bowl was about to tell us…
The cue cards and markers were handed out to everyone in attendance that night and we were asked to write down everything we hated about our amateur radio hobby with one request ” Tonight, we’re not criticizing any negativity” . At first we had laughs and giggles and then some people jokingly started to refuse and said ” I enjoy the hobby” or “What’s wrong with ham radio”.
Eventually everyone settled down and started to realize we had to participate to figure out what was up his sleeve. The gripes started to fill the bowl. As each dislike and gripe was written the gripe/dislike was announced to the group. Here are a few.. ” Not enough young people.”/ ” People think I’m Weird”/ ” My radio is not a chick magnet” / “People associate me with other crazy operators”/ “Too expensive”/ “Too many Rules”/ “I hate having my personal info out there”/”Everyone in the hobby is old”/ ” I hate it when people use ham radio as an acronym H.A.M.”/ “Too many cliques”. It went on and on.
As you can see in the picture, just about everyone had plenty of filled out cards in the bowl. Even the folks that loved everything about the hobby filled out some cards with dislike they had “heard of” before from other folks.
The point soon became crystal clear. We had a room full of radio operators that love this hobby and we managed to fill a punch bowl full of reasons this hobby is awful. We eventually went back through and found solutions and rebuttals (too many to list here) that each one of our members could articulate to the massive amount of licensed operators and general public out there that are not participating in this fun hobby, so that maybe they to could enjoy the hobby and learn to embrace the honesty that not everyone is perfect. By reviewing the negatives we can better appreciate and spread the positives of our loved hobby.
God Bless and “Key that Mic”
WCRL- John McKinney- PIO