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Author Topic: Age? Is ham radio slowly dieing?  (Read 4912 times)
KG9ZTX
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Posts: 65




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« on: March 12, 2019, 02:36:33 AM »

Does anyone get the feeling that certain part of ham radio is slowly dieing? Being killed off by other alternative with cellphones iPads and internet?

I have talked with a few from around the world on my ham radio in  various different alternatives.

I would say 90% of those I have talked with have been older then me. I am 55. Of those 90% I would most are over 75.

Even those 10% younger then me, were all at least 40 - 55.

I know only 8 hams younger then 40, and their only reason they are hams, is cause they are in groups that hunt, or 4x4 off road, and they have 2m/70cm radios and the only time they are on their radio is when they are hunting or off roading.

I wonder what percentage of the many other tech licensees under 40 are the same or similar?

Now I have no problem with talking with someone older then me. They have the most to teach me, and usually have the best stories to tell as well. So no complaint here. I just worry about the direction our field is taking.

VOIP and combining that with repeaters and nodes is cool. But then again... why? Why not just get on our phones and use “virtual” “ham” radios. On the iPhone/iPad there are a dozen virtual voip “walkie-talkie” apps that one can use to talk to people anywhere in the world as long as they have internet. Give it another 50 years or even less, and the entire planet will no longer have cell phone coverage dead areas. Once that happens will ham radio really be even needed or used?

I use ham radio, mainly for being able to communicate when there isn’t internet and I want to be chatty! Lol

Am I totally in left field? I have my suspicions why this is the case if I am not in left field. But I accept the fact I could be. So Am I?
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W7ASA
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Posts: 541




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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2019, 06:54:59 AM »

Although I've met some people half my age on the air, I agree with your general assessment of hams peaking above a certain age is correct ... I know that I am certainly old, retired and glad for it :-) Then again, I was still in the workforce last year, and the younger people I worked with - which meant everyone else at the lab-  were all into things which rarely interested me at all, usually centered around shotgunning beer, their latest tech gadget or things they can drive around in.  I was probably the only person at the lab who kept notes in a paper notebook (it always boots, can't be digitally virused and has no security backdoors...) I've never seen anyone of them concerned that 'there aren't enough old people doing this.'. I think that same way about ham radio: those who see it as worth their time and effort will pursue it and those who don't , won't.

// They TRIED to instruct me in proper technique to 'shotgun' beer (PBR) , but I really demonstrated that I have no talent for it ;-)  I'm more into quality, not quantity. //

Considering the average age of a ham , especially on HF, there were more than a few common threads during the hey-day of ham, which motivated us to pursue it:

1. When I began into radio, long distance phone calls via a woman at a phone company switchboard were 'a thing'. Asking the operator to place a long distance phone call was the norm,

'Operator, I'd like to place a long distance phone call to Puckett, Rhode Island, Regency 3456, please.'  

... while we waited and paid by the minute.  "FREE" communication with friends out of town was a BIG draw for ham radio. Now, we have global communication (sight and sound ) in our shirt pocket, leaving little or no lure for ham radio as a means to talk with the world.

2. From the early 20th century through the early 1970's, "A Career in ELECTRONICS!" was the road to the future, and was pushed heavily in magazines, TV  (remember those?) & schools. Post 'Personal Computer', most of the focus shifted to programming and later to "data management" which exploded into ARPANET becoming the Internet. No, need or want for ham radio, when you can hop on the net and immediately talk to the world; instantly & basically free. The technical hunger is well fed for many via software development, instead of physical building.

3. Travel & Wilderness treks with home brew QRP rigs were my passion.  I was usually the conduit to get short notes to/from home for friends and crew. Now, anyone with a cellphone and legs to reach a ridgeline can usually hit a cell tower in most of the Rocky Mountains which previously were an RF wilderness.  International travel is entirely improved, now because of cellphones. HF is excellent and I love it, but a smarty-pants phone is extreeeeeemely lite and powerful - as long as there is an internet. Besides, updating friends now usually involves selfies, video & etc. several times per day on social media, not quick SITREP and location sent via HF.


Personally, I mourn the passing of the age of sail with navigation by sextant and lead-line, but then again, I love receiving packages by next-day-air from Amazon.  


73 de Ray  ..._ ._

Ps. It's also fun to see a hipster head turn when I read Morse code copied in my head during one of his video clips: "You know Morse code???"  Yep, old guys have a few things going for us ;-)
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 07:09:06 AM by W7ASA » Logged
KB2CRK
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 07:22:58 AM »

Dying or not there is still a higher number of licenses out there than in the past. I think that in spite of the hobby is dying crowd that the hobby is growing. The more time passes the mor ething stay the same. Oh My gerd the sky is falling
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some people are like slinky's. not really good for anything but still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2019, 07:44:02 AM »

I don't think ham radio was ever as full of young people as we sometimes think. In 1962 my high school had about 1200 students. To my knowledge there were only 2 hams, me and one other guy. We started a ham radio club but only had a maximum of about 10 students interested. We held a license class. Our teacher sponsor was the only one to get a novice license (which he let lapse in a year).
When I attended a local Detroit area club, as I recall I was normally the only one under 20 years old present.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2019, 08:36:19 AM »


The thing about old people is they're always making more.  When I got into the hobby as a teenager, the next youngest guy in my club was more than twice my age.  Fast forward a few decades, I'm an OF and am in good company.  It's an old man's hobby and it's only ever going to attract so many young folks.  When folks get more chronologically advanced, some percentage will be attracted to the hobby and so it goes.  So what's changing isn't the hobby, or the demographics.  Just your perspective of it.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 
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KC6RWI
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2019, 09:45:23 AM »

Younger or older, a few people have fascination of receiving or creating a radio signal that can go around the world. Part of the fun of sending that signal is that it is done by an individual who had the know how to assemble a station. On top of that you gain the ability to talk to other like minded persons, and you can do it even if the grid goes down. No network needed.

It would be interesting topic for the survey question to have the subject of age.
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W1VT
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2019, 09:54:11 AM »

I think the real surprise is that you can still find CW pilups on the Amateur bands, but good luck trying to find a shortwave program broadcast overseas towards North America!
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W0BKR
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2019, 10:38:14 AM »

QSY!!!  Frequency is in use!!!


How many times do I tune across someone complaining about crowded band(s).....

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W6BP
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Posts: 531




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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2019, 11:03:08 AM »

It's undeniable that amateur radio skews heavily to the upper end of the scale on age. But as a VE, I see a significant number of young people entering the hobby. In fact, two weeks ago I worked at a session for high school students. The real challenge is keeping them in the hobby once they get a license.
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N0YXB
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2019, 11:08:25 AM »

Ah, the perennial ham radio is dying thread. It would be interesting to see a historic trend of the the median age of hams. I suspect it would support the posts below.

The thing about old people is they're always making more.  When I got into the hobby as a teenager, the next youngest guy in my club was more than twice my age.  Fast forward a few decades, I'm an OF and am in good company.  It's an old man's hobby and it's only ever going to attract so many young folks.  When folks get more chronologically advanced, some percentage will be attracted to the hobby and so it goes.  So what's changing isn't the hobby, or the demographics.  Just your perspective of it.

I don't think ham radio was ever as full of young people as we sometimes think. In 1962 my high school had about 1200 students. To my knowledge there were only 2 hams, me and one other guy. We started a ham radio club but only had a maximum of about 10 students interested. We held a license class. Our teacher sponsor was the only one to get a novice license (which he let lapse in a year).
When I attended a local Detroit area club, as I recall I was normally the only one under 20 years old present.
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KG9ZTX
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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2019, 12:22:54 PM »

Well We are all getting older that’s for sure. Lol
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W4AMP
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2019, 04:53:36 PM »

When I started on ham radio, I was always the young one. Almost 30 years later I still am.
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KC6RWI
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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2019, 10:00:40 AM »

Yes,   YXB that would be interesting to see which way the average age of hams is trending.
It seems that so many got the spark at an early age, it would also be interesting to hear from the people who started at later age.    Leonard Kc6rwi
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N4MU
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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2019, 11:28:31 AM »

Oh yes. The age old (pardon the pun) saga of old hams...
I agree about the internet being responsible for loss of interest. Too bad too. Now, I'm not knocking D-star, Fusion, etc., but when it's the only way to contact other hams (via your hot spot  and internet connection) there's something missing. It is however the instant gratification that seems to pervade every facet of life today. Why wait for WAS, DXCC when in a weekend you can "contact" everything with Q-5 readability? I laugh every time one op tells the other how clear his signal is! (You'll have to make your own certificate though, thank goodness)
Yes Zach, there are still CW pileups.. I get involved regularly but there are fewer and fewer licensees who can participate. Hey, maybe I'll have better odds as we go along...
Yes, I have decided to live and let live (digital modes) but they'll never know what they're missing by not giving up instant grats.

-"OF"  (in Florida no less)

Heard today:  "Sorry, no contacts today...propagation sucks!"
Heard tomorrow: Sorry, no contacts today...the internet connection is down!"

TRUISM (really): My internet went down JUST AS I was clicking on "Post"! I'm not lying...a real goocher! LOL
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K4EZD
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Posts: 169




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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2019, 02:14:04 PM »

The answer IMHO is yes, very slowly.  I am 75 and checking the current contest calendar I saw that the Virginia QSO party is this weekend and wanting more details I checked the link given https://www.qsl.net/sterling/VA_QSO_Party/2019_VQP/2019_VQP_Pre-Brief.pdf
Scrolling down to pages 22, 23, 24, and 25 show the club members for that region.  Not to judge or anything, but they look like my age group and typical of ham clubs I am familiar with.  I wish all of us a long life but it seems that when we go, ham radio slowly goes with us.   Sad Sad
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