Re-Invent Ham Radio. Ruthlessly!

Geriatric Porn

This is the Cover of QST Magazine December, 2019 issue. The photo typifies the cultural disconnect of Ham Radio from contemporary and “youthful” society. To me this is a pathetic image. An elderly “white” man in a faux Currier and Ives setting. His subservient wife is just outside the frame, standing near with a cup of coffee and sweets.– I gagged and laughed on seeing it. — (and thinking I had “time-traveled” I checked my screen date and year!)

And yet…. this image is an accurate reflection of the hobby. Where septuagenarians +, whose productive lives are over, spend their time talking within an insular geriatric community tied to the analog past. Mostly white men, their on-air discourse is of the most insipid kind. The ARRL’s mind-set, culture and preferred image to promote the hobby is of course an old white guy. 

The vast majority of Ham Radio operators have little to no understanding of the app era, gaming, or contemporary youth culture. How do I know this you ask? Tune any ham band and find discourse about fast emerging technologies that will change our civilization. Hams as a group are sub-literate in the 21st century. Empirical evidence abounds. Contemporary technologies: Augmented realityVirtual realityArtificial intelligenceMachine learningQuantum supremacy and 5G are little known to these men. (Yes this is a generalization– but I’m comfortable with it) Continue tuning and listen for conversations about last-book read, or recent film, music or international affairs issues, the burgeoning video gaming world, or the all-consuming ‘social-media” environment….. What’s that you say? You had trouble finding any?

The American Radio Relay League professes to be the designated steward of ham radio. Yet the organization is an anachronistic and sclertotic group more comfortable in the Norman Rockwell era than the messy, bewildering, vibrant, exciting and challenging era of the 21st century.