[AMRadio] Ham Radio in decline?

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Sun Apr 30 14:25:17 EDT 2017

> What happened to building your own gear? Look at 50's, 60's or 70's ARRL
> Handbook. Then look at a recent ARRL Handbook. In the old days we did a
> of building. Kits or scratch building. We could buy parts  at the local
> parts store. When I moved here 17 years ago there were two Radio/TV parts
> stores they are gone now.
> I think that 20 years from now Ham Radio will be history and there's not a
> thing Newington can do about it!
> Bob Macklin  K5MYJ  Seattle, Wa.

I think you may be right; at least ham radio AS WE KNOW IT will likely be
history.  Newington can  do nothing about it because this is due to market
forces beyond our reach.

This is not unique to ham radio; it's a phenomenon impregnated throughout
the fabric of to-day's society and economy.  Take another issue that's
making big headlines in the news these  days; the decline of the coal
industry.  There's no "war on coal" per se; coal is being over-run by other
markets and other energy sources.  Natural gas.  Solar. Wind.  Maybe someday
in future, nuclear fusion.  Analogous to ham radio's present over-run by
cellular technology, internet and  social media.

The coal industry won't be reinvigorated by killing off environmental
regulations, just as ham radio won't be reinvigorated by dumbing down the
entry level.  The politicians who promise to bring back the coal mining jobs
are the same voices shouting in the wilderness as those shouting they will
bring back renewed interest in ham radio.  The market forces that have
brought these declines are too powerful to reverse with simple-minded
environmental deregulation or simple-minded "novice enhancement".  Only some
unforeseen direction in technology will bring back either the coal industry
or ham radio.

There will always be a market for coal, particularly in the production of
steel and manufacture of plastics, but its use as a primary source of energy
will continue to decline to a trickle and there's nothing any politician can
do about it.  Likewise,  there will always be some form of ham radio (if
governments of the world don't decide to get rid of us merely because it's
too much trouble to administer licences and enforce regulations), but it
will be minuscule compared to what most of us grew up with.  We may even
keep the HF bands, but they will be populated with ever-declining activity;
we will hold onto them only because no-one else has a use for them.  After
all, people still raise horses and enjoy riding them.

There are many more present-day analogies to the amateur radio situation; I
just picked coal because it's currently such a hot topic in the news.

The best we can  do is not to give in, but to continue to operate as we have
in the past until there's no-one left to talk to.  We can continue to build
and modify transmitters and erect antennas until we are too old and decrepit
to lift transformers, drill sheet metal and climb towers.

So, let's enjoy it while we still can.  Continue to rescue as much vintage
stuff from the landfill  as possible, until every last person who values it
is dead.  But don't count on any contrived PR campaign to magically
generate hordes of youngsters enthralled by amateur radio, or count on any
politician to "bring back coal". 

Don k4kyv

PS: The following seems particularly pertinent to this discussion:

**On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness**

The tusks that clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is ferric oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear whose potent hug
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf,
And I don't feel so well myself.

- Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)

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