Why Johnny Doesn’t Get on the Air

Our boy Johnny used to get on the air all the time. I mean like morning, noon and night he would be in his radio room talking to anybody and everybody someplace in the world. Then all of a sudden he took a turn toward just listening and seemed to get very disgusted with what he was hearing. Not being terrible technical or knowledgeable in the field of electronics or ham radio in general, he found some of the dribble he was being turned off by a little on the questionable side. When asked why he no longer talked with those people he commented something about the dumbing down of the hobby was making the bands sound like CB (whatever that is), said there’s no manners or consideration anymore, says it’s hard to find an intelligent conversation.

Johnny finally for whatever reason turned his attention toward the VHF/UHF and microwave bands. At this point things kind of changed for him. No longer did all that raucous noise and people talking over the top of each other, the squeaks and squalls of heterodynes issue from the radio room. The hands full of QSL cards all but stopped filling the mailbox that had been almost a daily occurrence. He seemed rather content to talk with a few friends around the state or even neighboring states on a nightly basis up in that rarefied ether, he calls it, of VHF/UHF and microwaves. Overhearing some of the discussions, they seem to be of a highly technical nature that lasted for hours rather than, as it had been, the couple of minute contacts (if that long) he used to make on HF.

Johnny has seemed a little concerned about the future of his hobby with the dumbing down of the license exams, also why it seems like pulling teeth to get folks interested in the higher bands. Although, he has schooled, coerced and coddled a few of his acquaintances into getting on a few of the higher bands there still seems to be a lack of patronage up there. He’s given away lots of his excess equipment and has loaned a lot of equipment out in order to just get people to try out the higher bands. Johnny used to look forward, with great anticipation, to the four or so contests a year that are for VHF, UHF and above only. Lately he gets on the air at the start of a contest, hears only a hand full of locals, if that, turns off his equipment and then goes and cuts the grass, or throws a few snowballs for the puppy depending on the season or just goes and reads a book.

The radio room is wallpapered with certificates for achievements and acknowledgments of contest winnings on both the regional and national levels. He’s been involved in a myriad of activities through the years for which he’s received some sort of written recognition. Haven’t seen the wallpaper grow much as of late. When asked about this change he’s going through (again) in his operating habits, he either shrugs it off or says he’d rather be on the workbench creating something or other. These creations Johnny puts considerable time into, then may use the item once or so and then into the old equipment closet it goes. He’s seldom on CW anymore and has tried the ‘digital modes’, which they too have gone by the wayside. His FM equipment gets turned on about once a year to participate in the “14er event” but outside of that he finds the dribble on the repeaters rather repulsive. His E-mail indicates he still follows the traffic on the Moon Net but it’s been months since he’s even aimed his antennas at the Moon. Seems his interest there died after a few European contacts. He’d like to get back into ATV again but there isn’t an ATV repeater operational in the state and simplex he says, “Been there, done that!”

What will it take to get Johnny back into Ham Radio?

Dave W6OAL –

Olde Antenna Laboratory 41541 Dublin Drive Parker, CO 80138