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Generational Change in Ham Radio and Events

I am sure this title has been said before. Prior to pocket-sized cellphones ham radio was a must for all events. Organizers at that time had no choice. BizBand radios were too expensive and most cases did not have the range required. Ham was the solution. Many ham clubs or ham event coordinators improved the basic bare bone ham radio talk system into much better solutions for the particular event. The event became the ham club’s focus for technical improvement.

Then came cellphone and the obvious need for ham communication decreased. Not all hams were easy to work with and supported the event in the way the organizers needed – it was a little of the organizers had to fit with the ham guys’ service.

Additionally, many hams only want to talk, but otherwise not support the event.

Due to time and temporary living out of state due to work, I am down to organizing 2 events per year. Both events depended heavily on ham radio 3 years ago;

The first event of the season used 4 ham nets and 30 hams in the pre-cellphone days. The same core group of guys came from ham clubs and as individuals, but enjoyed the event. Many still do but we are all 30 years older and we see that gradually our team is retiring out physically. Although those who are still participating all enjoy being there, the next generation is too busy and the following generation have not yet found the pleasure in ham radio. The challenge for 2023 is to grow the group back to a pre covid size with the next generations. 9 moths to race start!

The second event I organize have transitioned from ham to BizBand. The areas hams are in the same aging condition and the county’s repeaters have slowly dwindled down to just a couple with much less geographic coverage than in the glory days of VHF repeaters. Since the service we provide must go on and the interested volunteers are event oriented and not hams, BizBand has become the solution partially because cell coverage is also limited in some of the event area. This has worked really well, but can be a struggle for some hams to embrace. The technology is the same although on slightly different frequencies. BizBand also permits a wider variety of volunteers and actually from my standpoint still provide a technological challenge.

It takes a ham with a vision and tenacity to make events grow. For me, the solution for consistency is to be on the event committee to run the comm efforts from the inner circle. Our comm system (ham radio or bizBand) is not an outside service in parallel, but an embedded service from within. Each volunteer represents the event, not an outside club.

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