I was first licensed as a novice back in the early '80s; monitoring 2 meter activity back then, I was always impressed by the amount of action.
I recently upgraded to general class, and last Saturday I bought my first VHF/UHF transceiver (a Yaesu FT-60R).
After reading enough to get it properly programmed for my area (the included manual and several helpful online posts), I set it up to scan and waited to hear some QSOs so I could get a feel for "how it's done..."
After many hours of silence, I gave up and tried calling; at first I could only hit one repeater, but after throwing together a simple 1/4 wave ground plane I was able to hit two more for a total of three (a nearby 440 repeater with the rubber duck, and two 2-meter repeaters with the ground plane).
Over the weekend I brought my new HT and my son to the top of a modest mountain, and was able to hit half a dozen or more repeaters with the stock antenna. I called on all of them, no answer. Now I didn't try all that long, only about 20 minutes because I figured I was boring my son (I certainly wasn't giving him any inspiration to become a ham).
Several more hours of trying back home, I did manage a contact - one brief one, answering my call for a radio check (all was fine, he was monitoring while taking care of something else so I didn't keep him).
I had the radio scanning before work today, and during the drive in. I think I heard a faint signal at one point - but was gone before I could get close to the rig and respond.
I've even tried monitoring the repeater that used to be busy back in the '80s - I know the repeater is still active because I can hear it ID, but there's virtually no traffic.
While I don't live in a major population center, I'm not in the middle of the antarctic either.
Is this common elsewhere? What happened? Cell phones and internet killed 2m radio?