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Author Topic: Getting the word out to the public on ham radio  (Read 710 times)
AB8VE
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« on: November 26, 2005, 10:58:50 PM »

An interesting thing happened to me today that kind of struck a nerve.  I was in the car driving my cousin home from Thanksgiving Dinner when someone came over the mobile rig giving their callsign.  She knew that I was a ham, but didn't know much about it.  So we talked about it for a couple of minutes and she said, "Ya know, aside from you, I don't know anyone else who is a ham besides you.  Is it a dying hobby?"  Now, I know there are lots of threads on here debating on whether the hobby is dying or not, but the majority of people that I have talked to have never even hear about it before.  After I tell them about it, they get really interested in it, and I have gotten a couple of people to go out and get their licenses.  Does anyone have any ideas that they have tried to get the word out on ham radio?  Do you think like a public service announcement on the FM radio or TV help?  I am the president of the Ohio State University Amateur Radio Club, and I have done as much as I can to try to promote the hobby on campus.  Does anyone else have any suggestions on reaching people in a mainstream method?

73's
AB8VE
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2005, 08:58:04 AM »

When all is said and done, more is said than done; but I doubt it matters.

Nobody "promoted" amateur radio for its first 50-60 years, which were its major growth years (from zero population to a couple hundred thousand): People who had an interest figured it out for themselves, and got involved.  They studied, learned code, theory and regulations, traveled great distances to attend FCC exams which may have been held hundreds of miles away and never on weekends, and got licensed.

If we jam it down people's throats, will they be the same kind of hams I just described?

Nope.

I don't see the point of "promoting" the hobby to increase our population.  Our population is larger today than it's ever been, and when there's any (HF)propagation, the bands are full.  

To keep the hobby from dying all we need is protective legislation to prevent the government from giving our frequency allocations away; so far, we've lost almost no ground at all in decades, and have actually picked up a few allocations we didn't used to have...so this threat seems shallow.

WB2WIK/6

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AB8VE
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2005, 09:26:51 AM »

I can see where you're coming from.   I guess where I'm coming from is that I'm 22 years old.  When I'm in my 60's and 70's I want there to still be people on the air to talk to.  I guess I was trying to look for a way to get younger people interested into the hobby, and in the techno age, it's not a real known thing/or it's considered "old technology" (which makes no sense to me.)  There are my 2 cents.
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KI4DSO
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2005, 11:48:35 AM »

Just a few random thoughts:

Nowadays many people haven't even heard of ham radio.  If the subject comes up in conversation, it's your responsibility as a ham to be able to explain what it is, and how it works, in simple terms, without using jargon.  I don't even call it "ham radio" when talking to newcomers, just "amateur radio".  You also need to be prepared for the many misconceptions people have.  For example, many people are somewhat familiar with CB or FRS radio, and may vaguely understand that amateur radio is somehow similar.  Be prepared to discuss the similarities and differences (do you know what the legal distance and power limits for CB are, compared to ham radio?).  This brings up the next point: when talking about CB, FRS and other services, if you have an arrogant or condescending attitude, you're only promoting the image of hams as intolerant elitists.  Instead, stress the positive, such as how ham radio can help young people understand math and electronics in a practical way, or how ham radio has helped save lives in disasters.

The wide variety of specializations in ham radio, from  homebrewing to PSK31 to satellites, means there's some facet that will appeal to almost anyone.  I heard a local ham a while back describing how he was trying to teach some schoolkids about ham radio.  He said they were generally receptive to it, but that their biggest question was along the lines of, "Yeah, but how does it compare to our video games?  Can you play games on it?"  He was at a loss for an answer.  In my opinion he missed a great opportunity to tell them about foxhunting and contesting.

Promoting ham radio is like promoting anything else, whether it's selling a product, a political or social cause, or one's religious or spiritual beliefs.  It starts with the promoter.  If people see that you are enthusiastic and disciplined about the hobby, that it provides fun and enriches your life, and that you're able to share the fun with others in an understandable, non-intimidating manner (in other words, follow the principles of the Amateur's Code), you'll go a long way toward promoting a more positive image of the hobby, as well as possibly motivating more people to become hams themselves.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2005, 03:27:58 PM »

>RE: Getting the word out to the public on ham radi  Reply  
by KI4DSO on November 28, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
"Yeah, but how does it compare to our video games? Can you play games on it?" He was at a loss for an answer. In my opinion he missed a great opportunity to tell them about foxhunting and contesting.<

::He missed an even better opportunity to discuss digital content file sharing, which of course is perfectly legal via ham radio provided you don't use ciphers or non-standard encryption.  Hams have played "chess" over the air for 70+ years.  No reason we can't play anything else, provided participants can use standard formats.

>Promoting ham radio is like promoting anything else, whether it's selling a product, a political or social cause, or one's religious or spiritual beliefs.<

::Except that such promotions are a huge turn off to the majority.  Why would anyone want to promote his religious or spiritual beliefs?  In fear that his religion may disappear one day, so better get newbies to sign on?  Silly, brainless stuff.  Anything of merit sustains itself.

::Good discussion, though.
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AD5X
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Posts: 1432




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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2005, 06:15:48 AM »

We have a local ham radio Explorer Post that has done a great job of getting young folks interested in the hobby.  My daughter Stephanie (AC5NF) was a member of this Explorer Post when she was in high school.

Also, I drop off my old magazines (QST, CQ and WorldRadio) in the waiting areas of doctors, dentists, and even barber shops.  I figure that a lot of folks will pick them up out of curiosity, rather than the (typical) very old magazines normally available at those places.

Phil - AD5X
ad5x@arrl.net
www.ad5x.com
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N0NY
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2005, 08:40:08 AM »

I just taught (last night)chapter 10 of "Now,You're Talking 5th edition" to a group of Scouts(25) and 3 adults as part of a Tech class that is sponsored by the MN Youth Amateur Radio Council (MNYARC).  MNYARC sponsors Scout Venture Crew 373 aka K0BSA.  Membership is coming back.  Participation is relatively high.  Getting Youth interested in Ham radio or Amateur Radio or PSK31 or EchoLink (as one of our youth exclaimed "internet chat around the world") is easy...figuring out how they can stay interested is harder.

I don't have all the solutions, but making a friend of a youth while your an "old ham" does wonders for both you and the young man or young lady.  We have to show and share the hobby, and not be selfish about it.

We (our crew) share in getting people to participate in JOTA and Field Day and this weekend..a National Weather service field day.  We strive to have an event monthly, and provide a public service to groups hosting events. This gets the word out.  Communication is our business, and communication abilities needs to be made aware to the local groups that need our services.  The more we do, the more we get.  

Find a friend, invite them to listen in for an evening, do something more than working in your "cave" and more people will know about Ham Radio and some just may want to participate.  You need to show them the need.

73's
Mike
N0NY


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KB9IBW
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2005, 05:58:31 PM »

     Thanks for your post about getting the word out about Amateur Radio.  Also thanks for spreading the word about the hobby to those you meet and people that approach you.
      I think that along with all the ideas presented we also need to get involved with community events, setting up Special Event stations related to the events that our communities sponsor.  This would generate questions about who we are, and what is going on.  It would also bring people over to the area where we are set up to view the demonstration.
     Our local clubs have tried this and it seems to work great.  One thing that we started is ARMAD.  Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day.  By getting involved in a popular cause we generated a crowd of over 6000 people to come out and salute our troops over Amateur Radio.  
     Young people are interested in Amateur Radio, and most state that all amateur's need to do is let them know about the hobby, and they will investigate and become a part of the hobby.  
     We can all continue to spread the word about our hobby by wearing T-Shirts, and other outter wear promoting the hobby.
     Most people love the idea of hearing live voices and being able to communicate for a cause in real time with everyone in the group being able to participate all at once.
All it takes is a will to promote the hobby and a little time.

73!
Emery /KB9IBW
www.armad.net
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