In the many years of writing this monthly addition to the BAARC newsletter, I’ve kept the contents upbeat and positive for the hobby we represent, Amateur Radio. The time to sound off is when one believes the hobby is being led in the wrong direction. I am and always will be a supporter of the ARRL.
As a life member along with being an annual supporter of the Diamond Club, I firmly believe in the tiered class of membership (Technician, General, Advanced and Extra) as each of the classes are earned through intensive study and finally by strictly administered examination. Advancement to a higher class equals additional bandwidth privileges. The ARRL in its infinite wisdom has sent a request to the FCC for expanded HF privileges for Technician class licenses to include (limited) phone privileges on 75, 40 and 15-meters plus RTTY and digital mode privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10-meters.
Their rationale is that it’ll attract more newcomers to Amateur Radio. By the ARRL’s own published numbers there are 378,000 technician class licensees which is more than half the numbers of those with HF privileges. My objection is the word ‘give’ should be replaced with the word ‘earned’. Nobody is holding these folks back from upgrading their licenses to have more privileges other than themselves. A relatively simple test that is administered for a Technician class license will give them a personalized vehicle license plate with their callsign, a big whip antenna and an FM transceiver for their vehicle allowing them mobile radio privileges. I doubt very much if most of them will go any further. How many of those 378,000 Techs are really going to upgrade to earn their way up the ladder.
What this hobby needs is more dedicated people able and willing to follow in the footsteps of those that went before them. There’s no doubt that the digital modes are going to be ‘The Thing’ in the coming years and so we welcome these new modes and encourage younger people to join this wonderful hobby BUT…they must EARN their way up the ladder just like the rest of us have done over the years. Those of you dedicated HF radio operators can sit down at your station, find an open frequency and call CQ because someone somewhere that has HF privileges is listening for your call. Don’t disappoint them. So long from my station in Huntersville to your station wherever it may be…
Best 73 es gud DX de Bob/WØZPE