For the growth of the amateur radio hobby/service, there is no magic bullet. There are countless discussions on how to promote and grow amateur radio. In particular, there is a tremendous focus on youth involvement and there are some strong beliefs that amateur radio needs to become more youth oriented for long term sustainability. Keep in mind that in today’s day and age, adolescents, teens and young adults have many, many more technology and communication options at their disposal than this same age bracket had just ten years ago. When we think about amateur radio’s future and potential for growth, there is no magic bullet that will provide a single source of long term sustainability.
When the PRA was formed in 2014, we were highly encouraged to be a focused club that had something it was known for that would attract members. At first, that focus was a bit out of our reach because we needed to not only find our identity, but our purpose as a brand new organization. We tried a lot of different things to see what worked and what did not work. It took a little time for us to figure out that a one-size fits all approach would never work. What we did find out is that by encouraging member involvement in presentations, planning, formation of committees and allowing individual ideas to be supported to flourish, we found quickly that we could do a lot with a broad audience where people not only felt welcomed, but truly a part of a social group.
Since our start in 2014, the PRA has grown to over 275 members. There is not one solo focus that made the PRA successful other than a passion to get know people. Getting to know our guests and members has allowed us to not only meet people where they are in the amateur radio journey, but make them feel plugged in, included, and in a safe environment where any and all questions regarding ham radio are met with understanding and a level of humbleness. I am astounded at the number of keyboard warriors and angry/sad hams that exist on many of the popular ham radio forums and on the air. Thankfully, steering away from those discussion topics or using the large VFO knob on my radio changes the frequency. Unfortunately, this very small percentage of people can do damage to the perception of the strong majority of great amateur radio operators and ham radio itself. Don’t get me wrong, constructive criticism is important and necessary for improvement and growth. However, every amateur radio operator has always started as the new ham in the room. Surely, as the new ham in the room, that can be intimidating, particularly when you do not know a single person in the room. All is takes is one single introduction to break that intimidating environment quickly. “Hi, I’m Dan, N2SRK…great to meet you. Is this your first time at a meeting? We’re glad you’re here. Let me introduce you to my friend Brian, WA0R.” A simple 60-second conversation can make or break someone’s impression of amateur radio. It is always good to do a self inventory and ask yourself, “how well am I presenting myself and making people feel welcomed?”
The PRA is a group that can be defined very easily when it comes to amateur radio; WE DO STUFF. There is not one particular focus, but a variety of activities, events, teaching/learning opportunities that all focus around the active promotion of the amateur radio service. Doing a variety of things, with amateur radio at the core, promotes and encourages involvement. It becomes obvious that there is no magic bullet to grow amateur radio. What does become important is that our decisions, as individual operators, members of the PRA, committee involvement or Leadership, is that our decisions are focused on what is good and right for amateur radio. May we continue to be the amateur radio club that continually meets people where they are in their ham radio journey.
Dan – N2SRK
Parker Radio Association