Reply to a new ham

In the last two days the RAC Blog has received two separate emails from two young new hams. Here’s the link to a comment posted by Matthew, VO1GXG and my response is below:

Hi Matthew,

I’m distressed to hear of your experience so far. I was introduced to Amateur Radio along with my Dad, Leo West, (who later became VE3FWR) when we visited the shack of VE3UR (SK) known far and wide as Uncle Ray. Ray was big in DX and RTTY and dad and I were amazed to watch a World War II vintage surplus Model 19 printer bang out (it was loud) typed words coming from his station receiver (we had separate receivers and transmitters back then. DSB was just being introduced and the AM guys were saying it was the death of radio! Sound familiar?). Ray was a member of the Skywide Radio Club in Toronto and shortly after our visit dad and I joined the club where we were active members for many years.

I read that your experience was very different. The good news is of course with the Internet we can now join groups of people with similar interests regardless of our locations. The bad news is you didn’t find the support you needed locally.

In your comment you mentioned the drama that’s going on. The drama you speak of is very real but it’s also an indication that people are engaged. Some have nothing more to offer than nihilistic thoughts that we should end it all but those voices are in a very small minority and often come bearing other agendas.

You see Matthew RAC isn’t a thing or a place. It’s a collection of people – for better or worse – who are doing their best (mostly) to make our collective experience of the hobby we love a more exciting and satisfying experience for all Canadian licensed amateurs whether or not they are RAC members. RAC is not a club (contrary to some beliefs) but a national association of individuals and clubs and other associations who have banded together. And like a band of brothers, perfect harmony is never going to be reached. But by gathering together as a national organization Amateur Radio operators across Canada have the potential to better share their experiences, strengths and hopes for ham radio.

For some of us Amateur Radio is a pleasant hobby. For some it’s a way to serve their communities. For others, it’s contesting and the list goes on.

Look at your own experience Matthew. Amateur Radio is one of those leisure activities that we do in relation to others. We need people at the other end of the microphone or key to call us back when we send a CQ. ARES groups need dedicated and trained volunteers who are committed to working together to serve.

Radio Amateurs of Canada is the manifestation of thousands of Amateur Radio operators over many years (and many organizations) who have taken the time to volunteer their time, their talent and even their treasure to support the hobby we all love.

I’d invite you to join with the 5,000 other Canadian Amateur Radio operators who are members of Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Best regards,

Peter – VE3HG - Vice-President of Public Relations

Radio Amateurs of Canada

Follow VE3HG On Twitter

2 Responses to “Reply to a new ham”


  • While a nice story, I do not see anything in the article about what RAC has to entice curious young people into the hobby of amateur radio. Is that a confirmation of Matthew’s complaint that RAC doesn’t have anything for that target audience, and if so, are there plans to create material or activities to draw curious technically minded college age people into amateur radio?

  • Pardon me for butting in, Peter, but I think you might want to rethink your response here. Matthew’s problem with RAC seems to be that he doesn’t see what benefit he gets out of joining. Your response doesn’t seem to set out any benefits for him, or others similarly situated to him, to join RAC.

    It’s not enough to just exhort people to join RAC. You have to give them solid reasons why joining RAC will aid them in the pursuit of whatever interest it is that draws them within the admittedly complex sphere of amateur radio.

    This is a problem I face every year when I decide whether or not to renew my ARRL membership. I imagine RAC members face the same difficult decision. You need to make the case to members, and to prospective members, why RAC membership is in their interest. And the post above, as I see it, utterly fails in that respect.

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