Something that gets bounced around frequently in amateur radio circles is the apparent decline in numbers and “graying” of the ham community.
There are a couple of things going on here. There seems to be a broad belief that the average ham age is going up. Is the ham population itself getting older? I don’t think so. As an instructor and examiner I see a wide range of ages coming to classes and test sessions. We also see age diversity in the ham magazines, young people are getting licensed and participating in amateur radio. And they are doing some amazing things.
So where does this belief come from? I think it may be because new, younger hams are less inclined to join the traditional clubs, local or national, and these organizations are where much of this data is coming from. Why do these new younger hams shy away from the clubs? Because it appears to be a bunch of cranky old farts whining about the hobby getting grayer, the lack of new blood, and by action, an apparent desire to keep it that way.
If Field Day activities are indicative of other activities with groups of all sizes, it may shed some light on a part of the problem. I have heard from more than a few people in clubs all over the county that it is common to hear members want to engage, grow membership, bring in young people. The problem is that they often don’t do anything that supports those goals. The groups that do have a broader membership are those who do a significant amount of outreach to all ages and interests and plan activities to engage the membership. Inaction and stagnation are the enemies of growth.
Since many groups are unable or unwilling to follow through on these goals, folks with a love of all things Amateur Radio, an interest in learning new things, and a willingness to reach out should take the first step. It’s a matter of gathering a handful of people that are dedicated to amateur radio itself, not just groups or activities within amateur radio, people who are interested in what ham radio is as a whole, who want to engage with all ages and interests, and will post about what they are doing in social media.
This is pitching amateur radio in its entirety, not just clubs, groups, activities, or agendas. The goal is to show amateur radio in the big picture view, how much is available out there, that there is something for everyone, opportunities that are waiting to be explored, and completely tangentially, what expressions of amateur radio are currently established locally and nationally.
There is a job title for people who have a broad and deep knowledge of a specific product or idea and passionately pitch it, usually in group settings, they are called Evangelists.
We need Hamvangelists!
Interested in Amateur Radio or being a Hamvangelist? Let me know.
At present I know the blog doesn’t get much traffic. Probably because I have been posting only a couple of times a year, at best. I am working on this. I posted this on FB first because I thought the propagation would be better there than here. More to come.