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Author Topic: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?  (Read 54653 times)
K9AIM
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« Reply #90 on: November 15, 2010, 03:17:07 PM »

I suspect that the pending deregulation of CB prompted the dual track system as a means to adsorb "honest" operators from 27 MHz.  The V/UHF track did not require anything more than 5 wpm, and granted satisfactory privileges (particularly 6 and 2 meters) with the Technician.  Yet, this system would have sent the wrong message.  This restructuring would suggest that a number of  CBers (most likely attracted to the lower code requirements and the proposed 220 CB band) would become sequestered on V/UHF and gain second class status.  Indeed, even today those who wrote the "old tests" before 2000 consider new hams, especially new Extras, as suspect.  Imagine if this discrimination were institutionalized!  This would have been socially disastrous to the hobby.  Thankfully, this legislation did not come to fruition.

I don't know that such a system would have led to those hams who took the VHF/UHF track as being second class.  I never considered Technician class licensees as second class to Generals -- I just saw them as VHF/UHF enthusiasts who were not interested in becoming fluent in morse code in order to gain HF phone privileges.

As for the sub-population of 'old hams' who suggest that post-code hams aren't 'real hams' -- I think they are a much smaller group than most realize.  Unfortunately a few vocal holders of this attitude get misunderstood as representing a larger group than they really do.  While a lot of old-code hams may feel that ham radio would have been better off if the code requirements of old were still in place -- that doesn't mean we consider new hams as less 'real' than old-code hams.  let us not mistake the bigots on either side of an issue as representing one side or the other for any given argument.  

to me, it seems like the biggest issue with the dual track system would have been the logistics of administering it.

I hope "older" operators (i.e. licensees before 2000) do not patronize the new operators.  Yes, we have new Technicians that are operating illegally on HF phone and Generals that disregard band privileges.  Chides and anger towards these operators is the worst policy.  We need to be Elmers and not scolds.  Many of these operators do have a CB mentality and use CB language.  Our task is to steer them towards being responsible members of the ham "guild".  We need to instil pride in skill and achievement.  To do otherwise will ensure that a number of new hams will continue to operate poorly and/or disregard license privileges.

I agree.   73, and hope to cu on CW sometime in the not-too-distant future.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 03:19:34 PM by Robert Johnston » Logged
N2EY
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Posts: 3856




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« Reply #91 on: November 15, 2010, 04:45:21 PM »

K9AIM and AB2T:

You both bring up good points. Here's a few things I remember from those days:

- CB (all references here refer to 11 meter CB) wasn't just growing in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was exploding. CB sets were being sold everywhere, all sorts of homes and vehicles sprouted CB antennas, and the popular media glorified CB in movies and songs.

- Although it started out as a well-behaved service, by the late 1960s CB was pretty much out of FCC's control. Some folks got licenses, many didn't. Some kept to the legal power and distance limits, many didn't. The most common violation was the use of "handles" rather than callsigns, in an attempt to evade positive identification by FCC.

- Amateurs were right to be concerned that the CB culture would spread to the ham bands - or that the ham bands would become CB bands. We lost 11 meters in 1958, and in 1974-75 there was a proposal to take away 220 as well. A little here, a little there...

- Amateurs were often the innocent victims of the CB boom. TVI and RFI from CB was sometimes blamed on amateurs - because you could find a ham's name and address from FCC. Ham rigs were stolen by thieves who thought they were CB sets. CB sometimes got credit for public service done by hams.

When FCC did enforcement actions against CB and "freeband" folks, they often found modified amateur gear being used. (OTOH, many old BA AM rigs survived the era in the hands of CB folks!)

There was a popular national newspaper columnist named Jack Anderson back then. He wrote a column in which he vilified amateurs because we had so many bands and frequencies, while the poor CB folks were limited to 23 channels. His article contained many distortions and flat out mistakes, but it was printed anyway and never retracted. If the press was against us, what could hams do?

- Often, when something starts to go downhill, it does so gradually and almost imperceptibly, until what was once good is gone. A little neglected maintenance here, some shoddy work there, tolerance of bad behavior someplace else, and pretty soon it's a mess. What happened to CB is that the misbehavior was accepted, and became the norm.

The big question IMHO is: How did Amateur Radio avoid what happened to cb? And how do we avoid it in the future?

73 de Jim, N2EY 
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N2LWE
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« Reply #92 on: November 20, 2010, 01:38:42 PM »

Hey N2EY, after alot of back and forth with you in earlier posts, not agreeing with you on certain issues I must compliment you here. Your last post hit the nail on the head. Your description of how things started downhill in the CB days and how it became the norm was really right on the mark. I must give credit where credit is due. Have a good day.
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N2EY
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« Reply #93 on: November 20, 2010, 02:42:09 PM »

To N2LWE:

Thanks!

But the main question still remains:

How do we keep amateur radio from going the way CB went?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #94 on: November 23, 2010, 09:43:42 AM »

I can only speak from an Australian 1990s perspective, but CB in the late 90s was still a lot of fun for 11m DX enthusiasts like I was. It wasn't anywhere near as crowded with bad behaviour and foul language as AM was, and when mobile phones took off that killed off AM, effectively killing off all the bad language folks.

CB DX in Oz was nice and civilised then. I cant speak for it now mind you.  Smiley

At least in Oz at the time (when I listened to Amateurs on the Frog 7700) behaviour was pretty good. The again I have never really listened to 2 metres...... maybe I am in for a surprise?
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
N3DF
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« Reply #95 on: November 23, 2010, 09:59:20 AM »

I recall a Jack Anderson column in which he accused the FCC of tolerating conflicts of interest because a number of high level officials had amateur licenses (and thus unfairly favored the amateur service).
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Neil N3DF
K4YZ
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« Reply #96 on: November 24, 2010, 07:18:48 PM »


On the other hand, lots of old, greying Extras NEED to boast of their code skill to please their own egos.  Kind of like a government subsidy for their emotional well-being (or maybe its a "health plan" in disguise?).  Not to worry, the League (which is also old and greying) will protect you and help boast and boost morse code skill.

73, Len K6LHA



     Your ignorance of the current state-of-affairs of both the League and modern Amateur Radio are overwhelming, Lennie.  Of course if you were active in any other practical aspect of the Amateur service (other than pages-long rants on 'learning to kill' before you could use HF in the military here in eHam...watta classic!) you'd know better...Not that you'd admit it, of course...Although you do it frequently, you do hate to be wrong...

     Too bad you couldn't have been at the Huntsville Hamfest this year...Literally dozens of under 30 Amateurs there, not to mention the Young Ham of the Year award made.  It was heartwarming to see so many young new Amateurs there.

     Perhaps you should stick to the mutual glad-handing you and Keith seem to enjoy since you stopped spamming USENET and have since moved to eHam.  However I see that no matter how graciously or politely Jim Miccolis and others address you, you're still 'all about' diminutives when addressing others.

     Nothing changes.

     (Interesting, too, that "Keith" uses the eact same derisive and diminutive language you do...Are you ghost-writing his stuff for him?)

     BTW...Are you REALLY an ACTIVE Amateur at all?  Got a rig yet?  I mean OTHER than that old IC-R70 receiver and tube CB you used to brag about on USENET?  Made any QSO's at all?  Or are you still 'just' an SWL who ALMOST passed a pre-solo check-ride and chatted on air-to-air VHF-AM once in the 60's?

     Double BTW:  Don't bother responding.  The questions were rhetorical.  Everyone who's ever read your diatribe knows the answers already. 

No 73 for you.

Steve, K4YZ
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KB1SF
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« Reply #97 on: November 25, 2010, 06:41:34 AM »

    (Interesting, too, that "Keith" uses the eact (sic) same derisive and diminutive language you do...Are you ghost-writing his stuff for him?)

Steve,

I believe if you had actually bothered to read my posts, you might have found that Len and I very much disagree on the current status and intentions of the League.  

It has been my own personal experience (from my working very closely with them on AMSAT issues of mutual interest over the years) that the organization as a whole is very much interested in moving the state of the hobby forward.  However, it has also been my personal observation that they remain hampered in that quest by a large percentage of their paying membership who still seem bound and determined to keep our Service in the technological and sociological "dark ages".

And like you, I've been seeing an uptick in the numbers of youthful newcomers coming into our hobby as of late. Indeed, I was particularly gratified to see all the youthful faces lining up to take exams at this year's Dayton Hamvention.  

My only hope is that the pace of that influx will be enough to offset the eventual demise of those persons remaining in our ranks who still view any change to the entry and advancement requirements in our Service as a direct threat to their personal "Good Old Boy's Extra Class Radio Club".  

As I've often said, for far too long, such people have been allowed to inflict irreparable harm on our Service by lobbying the FCC and others to keep all of their rigid, "Radio Amish" ways enshrined in regulation well into the 21st Century.  This, in turn, has resulted in absolutely baseless advancement requirements...requirements that (as I have repeatedly shown) bear little (if any) direct relationship to the additional operating privileges they grant... still being forced on newcomers and potential newcomers to our Service long after those requirements have outlived whatever useful regulatory purpose they (might have) at one time served.

Thankfully, both our international and FCC regulators (as well as the movers and shakers in today's ARRL!) are no longer listening to the unadulterated, 1950s-era poppycock that still seems to be emanating from this backward-thinking, authoritarian crowd. Indeed, the seemingly endless rants from those who want to keep all that largely baseless regulatory nonsense firmly enshrined as hard and fast "hazing rituals" for entry into the "inner sanctum" of our Service are now falling on more and more deaf ears.

As a result, the decades of needless regulatory overkill this crowd has been championing for our Service in the United States is now (finally!) going the way of the dinosaur.  

Indeed, much to the absolute angst of our ever-shrinking (but still highly vocal) cadre of antediluvian authoritarians, Morse testing is already history. And it is now only a matter of time before the REST of our 1950s-era, systemically discriminatory (so-called "incentive licensing") farce is completely overhauled to bring it back into compliance with the same modern US federal equal access laws that govern similar, operationally based examination systems for most other state and federal agencies...that is...a licensing system that simply measures a person's competency to safely and courteously exercise additional privileges granted rather than a person's "achievements".

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 02:58:12 PM by Keith Baker » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #98 on: November 25, 2010, 10:52:22 AM »

I don't see what all the fuss is about.

What we have now in the USA is essentially a three-level license system:

Technician is the entry level
General is the intermediate level
Extra is the full-privileges level

While it is true that the regulations still include the Novice, Tech Plus and Advanced classes, the number of current unexpired Tech Pluses went to zero some time back, and the combined total of Novices and Advanceds is now down to about 10% of US hams - and is slowly but steadily going to zero.

The last remnant of Morse Code testing for a US amateur radio license disappeared almost 4 years ago. The written exams are all standardized and available free for study. License test sessions are held all over the country by a large number of VE groups, and the fees are low. Some VE groups will even waive the fees for hardship cases.

There is no age limit nor any experience, income or educational requirement for a US amateur radio license of any class.

We have a wide selection of modes, bands, frequencies and technologies available, and the stuff costs less than ever before.

Our numbers are growing again - close to 695,000 now, up from about 655,000 three years ago. And the percentage of hams with Extras has grown the most!

The real problems faced by Amateur Radio are not the doing of hams new or old, nor of the ARRL. They have nothing to do with license requirements, Morse Code, or the Amish.

The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

2) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly technology (RFI)

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Those are the problems that need to be addressed. The others are just red herrings.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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KB1SF
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« Reply #99 on: November 25, 2010, 02:58:44 PM »

Our numbers are growing again - close to 695,000 now, up from about 655,000 three years ago. And the percentage of hams with Extras has grown the most!

Maybe so.  

But the one set of facts that you and your like-thinking buddies conveniently leave out of such discussions is the average AGE of those 695,000.

Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  Any way you cut it, Jimmie, without a HUGE influx of youthful newcomers into our hobby, all the other "problems" you list in your latest post pale in comparison.

The inconvenient truth that you and your buddies seemingly don't want to discuss is that the long-term survival of amateur radio in the United States in the out years is now very much in doubt. I remain convinced that uncertainty is largely because, until very recently, both the ARRL and the FCC have elected to let the "Radio Amish" keep our Service's regulations and licensing system firmly entrenched in the sociological and technological "dark ages".  This, in turn, has now made our Service increasingly unattractive to enough of today's bright, forward thinking youth to keep our Service politically viable beyond the next decade or so.

For, without a continual INCREASE in the numbers of youthful newcomers entering the hobby to match the ever-increasing numbers of people in our Service who are now dying from "old age", it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that any radio Service where the average age of its licensees is now pushing 60 (and headed ever higher) probably won't be around for very much longer.  

I also can't help but wonder what our numbers would be like today if those so-called "forward thinking men" at the ARRL and FCC of yesteryear hadn't stunted the (up to then) explosive growth that was occurring in our Service back in the 1950s and 1960s when they rammed their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense down people's throats.  

Indeed, rather than a paltry 690,000 or so, our ranks might now contain upwards of a million or two million US amateurs, and our average age might now be far lower than 60.  That's because, rather than creating a self-fulfilling, achievement-based "caste society" of ever-aging "good old boys" where youthful newcomers have been continually made to feel unwelcome, our licensing and regulatory structure would have continued to be attractive to a much wider segment of the younger set.  

Right now, it isn't...and it hasn't been for a very long time.  And our ever-aging demographics provide us with absolutely undeniable evidence of that fact.  

Indeed, it is now painfully evident that the best and brightest of our youth are investing their time and creative talents in other pursuits where they aren't continually ridiculed because they didn't perform some baseless regulatory "hazing ritual" (like a Morse test) and/or successfully completed a series of ever-more irrelevant written tests based largely on 1950s-era technology just to get an advanced license to operate in our Service.

So you and your buddies can continue to do your "kabuki dances" around this "elephant in the room" that you (and they) seemingly refuse to even acknowledge...let alone discuss.  

Those of us who are talking to the people who have actually seen the internal numbers (and have listened to their conclusions about the absolutely sobering internal demographic statistics BEHIND the raw "growth" numbers that you like to keep repeating ad nauseum) know full well which way our Service in the United States is now ultimately headed.

Unfortunately, even a cursory analysis of those internal demographics paints a far different (and far more negative) picture than the "rosy" one you and your like-thinking buddies like to keep touting in forums like these.

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 05:09:15 PM by Keith Baker » Logged
AB2T
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« Reply #100 on: November 25, 2010, 05:01:04 PM »

But the one set of facts that you and your like-thinking buddies conveniently leave out of such discussions is the average AGE of those 695,000.

Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  Any way you cut it, Jimmie, without a HUGE influx of youthful newcomers into our hobby, all the other "problems" you list in your latest post pale in comparison.

As Jim and I have repeatedly stated, there will always be bright children that will sit ham radio examinations for the intellectual challenge and the incentive licensing privileges (Canada: homebrew privileges).  Yes, these outlier cases will not significantly lower the average age of American ham radio operators.  Still, the spirit of intellectual challenge is still there.  Restructuring took away part of the challenge of examination for a short-term gain in operator numbers.  Still, I suspect there's another way to get young people hooked into the experimental and intellectual aspects of the hobby without the added satisfaction of mastering the tests.

Keith, I suspect that your statistics do not reflect the way in which young adult hams self-identify as members of the amateur radio community.  There are college clubs (there's at U of T and one at Concordia), but the focus at U of T was (and perhaps still is) on repeater construction, V/UHF operation, satellites, echolink, and creative computer-ham radio electronics projects.  Traditional HF avocations such as CW and phone have receded in importance in favor of higher frequency experimentation.  At U of T I had the HF shack nearly to myself most days.

A guesstimation of ham radio operator age from your average ham radio club meeting neglects the younger operators that have created new ad hoc associations.  Young adult hams might not attend club meetings but form informal cliques that are more hang-outs rather than formal associations.  As a youngish adult ham (30's, guess that's aging out a bit) I inhabit a different world from the formal ham club associations.  There's a lot that you're missing if you go by the club attendance metric alone.


73, Jordan
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 05:08:15 PM by Jordan » Logged
K9AIM
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« Reply #101 on: November 25, 2010, 05:02:12 PM »

Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  

what authority are you citing?  Has not the average age of radio Amateurs been fairly high since at least the 70's?  

and, just because the average age of hams may be fairly old, that does not mean that new hams are not replacing the SK's.

it would be great to look at the average age of hams by decade -- please post the data you are citing so we can let the facts speak for themselves or at least reveal your source.  is the sky really falling?



  
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KB1SF
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« Reply #102 on: November 25, 2010, 05:15:03 PM »

Just because the average age of hams may be fairly old, that does not mean that new hams are not replacing the SK's.

Maybe so.  

But the word I'm getting from my very reliable sources (who shall remain nameless because they shared this information with me in strictest confidence) is that they currently aren't.  

And rather than continue to argue these forward-looking (and, admittedly, highly speculative) issues ad nauseum, what say we all simply make a date to meet here again in ten or twenty years' time and see who actually got it right?

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 05:18:57 PM by Keith Baker » Logged
AB2T
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« Reply #103 on: November 25, 2010, 05:28:23 PM »

The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

I've always wondered if it wouldn't be a bad idea for a group of hams in restricted housing situations could form a syndicate and create a club station in a non-HOA area.  This would probably be most prohibitive if the hams in question had to purchase land, but perhaps a ham could host the club station on their property.

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules

This is a significant problem.  We now have greater (sometimes flagrant) violations of band privileges and even illegal HF phone operation by Technicians.  I chalk this up to a lack of Elmering, even though the privileges are spelled out on each test.  Something tells me that this is the regulatory hydra of ham radio -- a number of new hams, especially after the restructure, have little interest in obeying the rules.  I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but it's a reality we all must live with now given that the OO is moribund and the FCC has adopted an attitude of benign neglect.

I also suspect that the relatively few hams that flagrantly disregard privileges act out of the "freeband" CB tradition.  Some might not understand that hams take privileges seriously.  Again, this is a matter of education.  I doubt, however, that the message will reach many that have adopted a freeband attitude.

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Ham radio must market echolink, satellites, PSK, and remote operation as computer, internet, and extraterrestrial interests.  The emcomm licensing drive has done little more than inflate the ranks of Technicians without generating interest.  Again, the numbers help keep ham radio afloat, but at what cost?


« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 05:31:15 PM by Jordan » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #104 on: November 25, 2010, 06:30:22 PM »

The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

I've always wondered if it wouldn't be a bad idea for a group of hams in restricted housing situations could form a syndicate and create a club station in a non-HOA area.  This would probably be most prohibitive if the hams in question had to purchase land, but perhaps a ham could host the club station on their property.

It would be a good idea but it doesn't solve the problem. Here's why:

First, there is a significant investment involved, unless some arrangement could be made to get the space for a very low cost.

Second, while club stations are great, in most cases they involve an additional time and transport investment. A ham with a station at home can fire up whenever s/he has a few free minutes, but except in special circumstances a club station requires travel to and from the station, so a ham needs a much bigger block of time. And it has to be uninterrupted time.

Consider the ham with small children. With a station at home, s/he can operate after they go to bed (if s/he has any energy left!)  even if the ham's spouse isn't home. If the kids wake up, the ham can just sign off. But if operating means leaving the house, it's just not going to happen. Young people interested in ham radio would have similar transport problems.

There are other problems; I'll stop at two.

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules


This is a significant problem.  We now have greater (sometimes flagrant) violations of band privileges and even illegal HF phone operation by Technicians.  I chalk this up to a lack of Elmering, even though the privileges are spelled out on each test.  Something tells me that this is the regulatory hydra of ham radio -- a number of new hams, especially after the restructure, have little interest in obeying the rules.  I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but it's a reality we all must live with now given that the OO is moribund and the FCC has adopted an attitude of benign neglect.

It is NOT a lack of Elmering; it's a lack of respect for the rules.
We don't have to live with it, however. It is a simple matter to record such operations (when heard) and send the recordings to FCC. (I understand they like cassette tapes best). One does not have to be an OO to do that.

The FCC has done enforcement actions against hams operating in excess of their license privileges, when evidence has been submitted. The thing is, they don't go looking for such violations; we have to do it.

I also suspect that the relatively few hams that flagrantly disregard privileges act out of the "freeband" CB tradition.  Some might not understand that hams take privileges seriously.  Again, this is a matter of education.  I doubt, however, that the message will reach many that have adopted a freeband attitude.

One thing that is required for such attitudes to succeed is for others to legitimize them. What I mean is that others ignore the violations.

Suppose hams who disregard the rules were to find that no one would work them. After a while, they'd find amateur radio very frustrating and would give up.   

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Ham radio must market echolink, satellites, PSK, and remote operation as computer, internet, and extraterrestrial interests.  The emcomm licensing drive has done little more than inflate the ranks of Technicians without generating interest.  Again, the numbers help keep ham radio afloat, but at what cost?

The numbers tell a different story, though.

If you look at the number of Technicians and Tech Pluses combined, and their percentage of total US hams, there has been very little change in the past ten years. In fact, the percentage has actually dropped!

Meanwhile, the percentage of Generals and Extras has grown considerably.

The question is, how do you package the amateur radio message for a general audience? Most people do not understand how radio works to begin with, let alone the concept of amateur radio nor why anyone would want to do it.

What makes it even more of a sporting course is that amateur radio isn't just one thing; it's a wide variety of things. But they all come under one heading: "Radio for its own sake".

That's what we have to sell.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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