Need Help Reviving A Quiet Repeater Area?


Hey everybody and welcome back to Everything Ham Radio. A couple weeks ago I saw a post on Reddit where KE6YJR posted a question to the Hamradio sub reddit asking how to revive a dead Repeater area.

Here is a link to that sub reddit:

There seemed to be three main ideas answered to this question.

  1. Start a net or three – find out what is of interest in the area and make a net for people to talk about it.
  2. Throw your callsign out or ask for a Radio check or something to that effect.
  3. Get on a digital mode and talk elsewhere.

So let’s talk about these three things a little and maybe throw out a couple more.

Start A Net or Three

A couple people suggested starting a net or three in the area to help bolster activity. When I was in college in Phoenix, I would drive to school every day and there was a morning rag chew net with people that were like me, stuck in their car on their way to work or school.

This helped with the Repeater activity, especially in the morning and evening times. It also helped spread word about traffic congestion and police activity.

Another way to go is to figure out what kind of activities is common with people in your area and start a net about that. Maybe people in your area likes to talk on HF, start a net where you talk about band openings and what kind of contacts people have made.

Maybe people in your area like to build things, start a net where people can talk about the things they area working on or issues they are having with whatever they are building.

Use your imagination and talk with other hams in your area to get some ideas. Talk about it at your club meeting to get ideas and participation for it too. Whatever kind of net you help start, make sure you check with the Repeater owner to get permission before you start it.

Throw Out Your Callsign

Often times when I start going somewhere I will pick up my mic and say, “K5CLM, mobile” or if I am sitting at my station I’ll say, “K5CLM Monitoring”.

Throw out your callsign
Curtis, K5CLM

Does this help get a conversation started? More often than not, the answer is no. If there is someone listening at that time typically they don’t respond it my call unless they need to ask me something.

What about asking for a radio check?

This was one of the suggestions that was mentioned in the Reddit post. Typically if there is someone listening to the radio and your ask for a radio check, someone will answer your question and then you can continue the conversation with something else.

My only hung with this suggestion is people are going to start wondering why you are always asking for a radio check. It kind of seems kind of dishonest to me. Asking for a radio check on a radio that you know works. So if you do something like this, don’t do it to often.

You could try and call someone you know. Even if they don’t answer when you don’t get a response you could saying something like, “I’ll be listening, K5CLM” or something along those lines and maybe someone else will call you.

Get On A Digital Mode

Dstar, System Fusion, DMR

One of the other suggestions that was made on this subreddit was to get on an allstar node. The same holds true with a system fusion or DStar channel/room. True their may be people that are active in those places but my question is how does that help your local Repeater traffic.

Now if your Repeater has this functionality then by al means do it. Connect your Repeater to another Repeater or a channel or whatever and talk to someone somewhere else. Not only will this allow you to talk to someone but if there is someone else listening either on your local Repeater or wherever you connect to, they may chime in on your conversation.

However, if the Repeater doesn’t, this option really doesn’t help you get local traffic up.

Getting New Hams

Getting “new blood” into the hobby can be one way of getting more traffic on your local Repeater. The one catch to this though is that the new people have to be willing to talk on the radio.

Derek Brown, W4DTB -
Derek Brown, W4DTB – Image from

Recruiting younger people tends to work better when it comes to getting on the air because they are more likely to talk on the radio. Often times, I see new hams that are not as enthusiastic about talking on the radio so they don’t get on the radio. Maybe they have a little “mic fright” and are scared of talking on the radio.

If you hear a new ham on the radio, make sure you answer them. If they don’t get a response, eventually they will stop talking and the cycle will just be perpetuated.

Don’t Be Just A Listener

Don’t fall into category of those that just listen. If you hear someone on the radio, talk to them. One the major components of this hobby is to talk, if you just listen then your not talking and you are just perpetuating the cycle of a dead Repeater.

Hearing other people talk is a good way of getting other people to talk too. However, try to talk about something other than just things like the weather. Find a topic that other people can give their opinions to as well.

If the person you are talking to is new, ask them if they have any questions. This could also get other people involved in the conversation. If you don’t know the answer to the question, ask on the radio if there is anyone listening that knows the answer.

Do you have any tips on how to increase radio traffic in a dead area? Leave a comment below.

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