I feel like this is a very important topic to cover. There are many different reason people take up this hobby. None are wrong. It’s fun and challenging at all levels. Traditionally the hobby was simply for those who were interested in electronics and the technology of radio signal transmission and receiving. It has evolved into so much more over the years though.
In my humble opinion, HAM radio has something for everyone. I will be adding more on the history of HAM radio later, but for now I will continue the topic of why people become HAMs and if you aren’t one some ideas why you might want to get into the hobby.
As previously mentioned, the number one and oldest reason is interest in one of the most “primitive” modern technologies in existence. Amateur radio allows communication via radio waves on local repeaters to chat with those around your area, and on the HF bands across the whole world. It’s not only fun to understand how all this works on the technical end, but it’s also a lot of fun to meet people in the oldest “chatroom” in the world. People who love meeting and chatting with new people all over the world can have a lot of fun in HAM Radio.
Techies like amateur radio because there is so much information. You can take the technical end of the hobby as far as you would like. It is always expanding and building on older technologies with new. Unlike most technology in our world, amateur radio equipment never goes obsolete. There is equipment from some of the earliest days, which still works just as it should. However, there is always new technology being added. We now have computers, the internet and digital modes for our radios. The idea is that the old ways are there when the new ways fail, but we still have fun playing with new stuff.
A lot of people started getting back into the hobby after 9/11/2001. Sadly, after this tragedy struck our country (the USA) we realized that now, more than ever amateur radio has a role to play in our society and in public safety. When those two towers fell, two of the tallest radio antennas in the world came down with them. When those antennas were destroyed so was the primary communication capabilities of the New York Police and Fire Departments. It became evident that we needed to rethink so much of our communications in this country and focus on the ability for agencies to communicate between each other (interoperability). New grants started coming out from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. HAMs had helped during this disaster as they had so many before and would so many after. It was obvious that the need for HAMs to come in and provide emergency communications when infrastructure was down was stronger than ever. For the first time in a long time public safety officers began showing interest in communications and we welcomed them back into the fold.
The last and most recent type of folks flocking to amateur radio are the “preppers”. Preppers are just as varied as HAMs. They are people who prepare for various worst-case scenarios where there could be a break down in the societal and government systems, which we rely on for our day to day lives. They vary from those who prepare for natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and tornadoes to the end of the world, zombie apocalypse guys who want to have their own doomsday bunkers. The truth is no matter what type of prepper, most agree communications are important in these scenarios and HAM communications is the best kind when other types simply aren’t functioning or are overwhelmed.
No matter why you get into HAM Radio, you will find life long friends from all walks of life who will be there for you through thick and thin. You will acquire skills which will help in situation in your daily life as well as disasters and end of the world scenarios. I hope you will consider joining us in one of the greatest brotherhoods (and sisterhoods) which has ever assembled.