Radio Clubs….What Happened?

14 Mar

First a caveat….this opinion is based solely on my experience. That experience is pretty widespread geographically and also diverse over time. You can probably glean from my observations that the most poignant club experiences are the most recent and have more impact than older experiences. This is a natural phenomena.

Okay, now to the red meat.

Problem Statement: Somewhere during the time frame of the last fifty or so years,  radio enthusiast club meetings seem to have migrated from a group of individuals sharing their excitement with others at an informal gathering to one of okay folks, we are here now, so you can begin to entertain us!

As I said with my opening, I take full responsibility for my own club experience. However, it can be better for all participants and I would argue that it should be better for all players. I have recently been to some club meetings where people attended that had not been on the air for years, nor had they picked up a tool or torch or soldering iron and time is certainly not an issue as most were retired. Or perhaps just tired. If it isn’t exciting or interesting why play? Are we all that comfortable in our learning and understanding of things that we are bored? Does learning even matter? Well it matters to me. I think it should be an issue for us all. I have some thoughts on a perfect club. Well, perhaps not perfect, but lets just say a better club.

Amateur Radio is a wonderful learning platform. One thing I had to refresh in my own experiences was that you cannot possibly get the whole experience by just reading things. Effective learning requires some bits and pieces of work and involvement. To that end I would suggest that there is a place for a club who’s members are required to participate by doing a presentation to the membership as a requirement of belonging at least once per annum. This would not be just another slide show of where I spent my summer operating radio, but an honest to goodness presentation on how I (we) helped another club member solve a technical problem. There are loads of issues that come along in the course of installing and operating a radio station and most require brainstorming, research and making things (albeit small and large things) that can become a project and presentation, if that goal is known at the projects outset. Imagine the synergy that can occur by expecting projects and expecting one to help one another. And then there is the  return to learning and excitement and participation that builds synergy and a sense of accomplishment. Doing becomes a condition of membership. You are the Program!

Some will say time is a factor. Others will suggest they have no expertise.  I will be bold and suggest that everyone has some area of proficiency and thus something to contribute and that the project does not have to be rocket science-just something to solve a problem that others might learn from. This is how solutions come about-problems find areas of disparate expertise and cooperation to find solutions. Forget about Roberts Rules of Order, dues and  newsletters. Find a problem and some people and fix whatever is broken or failing to function at the expected level. It may be more rewarding then you know. Solve RFI, or 160 M from a city lot or any number of other little issues that crop up from day to day.Its fun. Just DO IT!

Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG

1 Comment

Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Radio


One response to “Radio Clubs….What Happened?

  1. Dick

    March 15, 2010 at 2:36 am

    I don’t think amateur radio clubs can be all things to all people any longer. A club back in the 1930’s had members who operated CW, AM, and a bit of RTTY from home.

    Clubs filling a particular niche might be successful. For example, QRP-type groups seem to be doing well with various activities, most often of an outdoor nature. You know who they are and what they do.

    I don’t know if there is much need any longer for a group that gathers once a month in a public school classroom and discuss a once-a-year field-day event.


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