This Week in Amateur Radio recently reported (https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/this-week-in-amateur-radio/e/51325707) on a speech given by ARRL president, Rick Roderick, K5UR, at the 60th annual West Virginia State ARRL convention held August 25th at WVU Jackson’s Mill Conference Center. Here are some things that he had to say: “Are we even relevant anymore as ham radio operators? Well, let’s see: We’re world communicators. We provide public service. We help in emergencies and disasters. We help save lives. We talk to the jungles of Africa…to the beaches of the South Pacific. We bounce signals off the moon. We talk to astronauts. We promote technology. We do positive things. So absolutely—we are relevant.
“We’ve got to accept change and we’ve got to adapt if we’re going to bridge that gap to that next generation. So the question that I have here that I have challenged my colleagues at ARRL with is this: is it time to rebrand ham radio? Maybe we need to rebrand the American Radio Relay League. That’s a pretty profound statement.” Of course, I agree with K5UR on this and said so myself (https://www.kb6nu.com/are-we-amateurs-or-what/) several years ago. Unfortunately, according to the report, he retreated to the same old ideas that the ARRL has been spouting for years:
“Well, I think we ought to get out there and stir things up. That’s what I think we ought to do. I think you ought to go back and rejuvenate your club. Over the next year, get somebody into ham radio. The second thing I want you to do….I want you to help a ham that needs your help. And the third thing I want you to do is—if you’re not a member of the American Radio Relay League, you need to join today…because you know that whether you like us or not, we’re all you’ve got; ain’t nobody else in Washington DC helping us. I want you to ask yourself this question: don’t you think it’s time to give something back? Now I believe as a group if we all did that we’ll make a difference in this hobby as we go forward. Be a champion of ham radio. Let’s work together and get it done. Thank you very much.”
I’d like to challenge K5UR and the ARRL to really stir things up. There are lots of us out here giving back by teaching classes, conducting exam sessions, and helping hams get on the air. That’s not the problem.
What we need from the ARRL is real leadership, not just talk. Exhorting the troops is only going to go so far. For most hams, amateur radio is only a hobby, and they do what they can. It’s really up to the ARRL to provide the leadership that ties it all together and provides the framework that will allow us all to be successful.
Saying, “Whether you like us or not, we’re all you’ve got; ain’t nobody else in Washington DC helping us” doesn’t really cut it. You have to show people that you’re really making a difference, not just say you are.
Dan, KB6NU, is the author of the â€œNo Nonsenseâ€ amateur radio license study guides and blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.