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Author Topic: Interesting Excerpt From QST  (Read 1091 times)

Posts: 268

« on: May 17, 2008, 05:31:54 AM »

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  #1    Yesterday, 05:38 PM  
QRZ Member   Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 29  
 ARRL Chief worries about boring hams


This weekend as hams around the world descend on the low tech/rust belt city of Dayton, Ohio, the June issue of QST magazine is arriving at subscriber’s homes. In a remarkable editorial, the ARRL CEO Dave Sumner, K1ZZ laments the fact that hams are poor communicators. Such a frank concession by the league’s senior executive is impressive.

One of the great myths of Amateur radio is that it is a vibrant environment for communicating. And indeed it is, if your idea of communicating is the mindless drivel that is the norm across the spectrum.

Sumner, in his editorial “Can We Talk” says “sometimes we don’t talk about anything at all” on the air. He notes that the net has now enabled much of the world to communicate across vast distances. A privilege we amateurs enjoyed almost exclusively among civilian populations for many years.

Tune the bands. Any band. Find literate and informed discussion on any topic. A book club perhaps? (How silly) Or culture, film, history. These subjects are not heard. On air discourse is debased after decades of dominance by a stupefying and bland on-air culture. "You're 5/9, the weather is great, I'm going to the hospital tomorrow"

K1ZZ recognizes that the future of ham radio is dependent on growth. What happens in ARES, spectrum allocations, license classes or technical tinkering will have little influence on growth. Ham radio is defined by the on-air culture and it's substance and fun or lack thereof. And he (Sumner) acknowledges the problem of hams who can’t hold a conversation citing former QST Editor Ken Warner in 1936 who said, “One of the saddest objects in the world is an amateur who can’t make conversation”.

Sumner’s message takes on urgency when he tries to teach hams how to have a conversation in a single paragraph. And it is here he falls flat. Almost “Father Knows Best” like in tone, Sumner offers an unimaginative template to achieve an interesting conversation. Message to Dave Sumner: You run the league. Leave the “communicating” to those who are intellectually curious, spontaneous, witty, creative and articulate

Still his editorial and mission are correct. Good luck!

Posts: 268

« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2008, 05:33:46 AM »

Its a pretty sad state of affairs when the head of the organization that represents you says that you and your QSO's are boring LOL

Posts: 691

« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2008, 08:07:37 AM »

In my humble opinion, Sumner himself became boring a long time ago.

As for QSO content, that's a matter of importance only to the parties involved.  If you don't like what you hear, move on and have your own QSO.



Posts: 700

« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 06:29:40 AM »

Hams mirror society in general. Some folks are good conversationalists and many aren't. The same has always been true on the ham bands too. It amazes me how many people in general, not just hams, are so eager to talk about themselves and show no interest in others.

Yes, the ham bands are full of dull, boring conversations. It was true in '69 when I got my ticket and it's still true today.

Next subject, please.

73, N4KZ

Posts: 372

« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2008, 03:26:43 PM »

We occasionally find interesting comments on our local repeater, and I have had an occasional interesting talk on 20 Meters, but mostly its just RST.

I have noted is that many of the times I have wanted to talk to someone, they are in the middle of a pile-up or are not interested.  

I also note that many of the conversations I have had have been fairly depressing talks about abnormal bodily functions and the tubes that are going to used to fix same.

There is a medical CME net on Sunday mornings, but between church, rounds, and propagation, I usually either miss it, or catch them signing off.

Then of course, there are the denizens of 75 meters....

Posts: 439

« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2008, 08:08:57 AM »

Gee, I wonder if the on-air discussions of amateurs during the 20's or 30's were any more interesting than they are today.


Posts: 1000

« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2008, 01:32:56 AM »

"Hams mirror society in general."

Sorry but I can't agree with that statement...and a stroll through a hamfest will confirm that the amateur population is far from a typical cross-section of society.

Hams, unfortunately, tend to be maladjusted, antisocial, techno-nerd misanthropes, long on ego and short interactive skills...sort of pasty skinned Morlocks hiding out in the basement with their electronic gadgets.  Not a scintillating recipe for a stimulating conversation about, say, art or the latest book you've read.  Unless, of course, you desire an in-depth analysis of a  technical manual.  Just take a stroll through the posts here on eHam or QRZ to see most hams don't even have a grasp of basic English.  Grammar, punctuation and spelling (especially spelling) remain a mystery to the average ham.  No wonder they can't hold a conversation.

I follow a number on motorcycle forums.  Motorcyclists, long thought to be the dregs of the earth are, by and large, much more literate, engaging, thoughtful and well-spoken than the average ham, I am sorry to say.

I don't see eye to eye with Mr. Sumner on many things, but he is spot on about this.  He should be smart enough to realize, however, that he can't change this situation with a didactic paragraph or two.  Dave also neglected to mention that you can avoid the worst of this syndrome on CW, where one doesn't encounter the banal cannned conversations, CB lingo and mental diarrhea prevalent on phone modes.  Oops, verboten subject, sorry.

Posts: 55

« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2008, 11:15:01 PM »

OK, I am a new general, about a year. I have an engineering background, but spent most of my career in technical training, then sales, and now in marketing for small/startup tech companies.  Unfortunately, the ARRL editorial is correct. The crowd a ham swap is generally smelly, crude, massively overweight, and dull.  On the air, the conversations are a mirror of society, mostly self-centric and dull, but with the odd conversation that is really enjoyable.  

The key here is that hams are not better or worse than the population.  I have very few good conversations in an average day. Why? People really do not want to talk to people, they want to talk at them. I asked my teenagers to do an experiment. Don't talk about yourself, unless asked, for one day.  What happened? "Everyone was my friend. Everyone wanted to talk". Of course, that can get very boring for the person who is NOT talking, but my point is that few people want to carry on a two way conversation, they just want someone to talk at. Sad.

The ARRL could set an example by dumping all the dullards who write, speak, and do the marketing.  Their publications are poorly written, in general, and the website is awful, in my opinion. LoTW is confusing to use. I do enjoy two of the columns in QST, the new contest manager and the Hands On Radio, as they are light and engaging.

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