[AARA] Radio Days Are Back: Ham Radio Licenses at an All-Time High

Herman Campbell kn5grk at lusfiber.net
Tue Nov 22 20:51:41 CST 2011

 From Fox News

  Radio Days Are Back: Ham Radio Licenses at an All-Time High

Fresno, Calif. -- iPhone 
<http://www.foxnews.com/topics/apple-iphone#r_src=ramp>, beware?

The newest trend in American communication isn't another smartphone from 
Apple or Google but one of the elder statesmen of communication: Ham 
radio licenses are at an all time high, with over 700,000 licenses in 
the United States <http://www.foxnews.com/topics/u.s.htm#r_src=ramp>, 
according to the Federal Communications Commission 

Ham radio first took the nation by storm nearly a hundred years ago. 
Last month the FCC logged 700,314 licenses, with nearly 40,000 new ones 
in the last five years. Compare that with 2005 when only 662,600 people 
hammed it up and you'll see why the American Radio Relay League 
<http://www.arrl.org/> -- the authority on all things ham -- is calling 
it a "golden age."

    ham radio operator Joe Carcia

    Nov. 16, 2011: Joe Carcia mans the mic at W1AW at the American Radio
    Relay League Headquarters in Newington, CT.

"Over the last five years we've had 20-25,000 new hams a year," Allen 
Pitts, a spokesman for the group, told FoxNews.com.

The unusual slang term -- a "ham" is more properly known as an amateur 
radio operator -- described a poor operator when the first wireless 
operators started out in the early 1900s. At that time, government and 
coastal ships would have to compete with amateurs for signal time, 
because stations all battled for the same radio wavelength. Frustrated 
commercial operators called the amateurs "hams" and complained that they 
jammed up the signal.

People like John Pritchett have used the slang term ever since.

"It takes an inquisitive mind that wants the challenge to speak with the 
rest of the world," Pritchett told FoxNews.com. "I meet a lot of people 
as a result amateur radio. It's a fascinating experience to meet 
somebody who you've talked to for years -- when you finally meet them 
and go, wow, that's you."

Pritchett has been a ham for over 35 years. He sits in his ham shack 
slowly turning the dial on his amateur radio and listening attentively 
for a voice through the high radio frequency. But he's not looking for 
aliens: Pritchett is dialing in to make contact with someone around the 

"W6JWK, This is John in Fresno, California," he says.

Pritchett can communicate with people around the globe or even 
astronauts in space by talking through his microphone or using Morse code.

With more people joining the hobby, local ham radio businesses are 
growing as well. Amateur Electronics Supply <http://www.aesham.com/> in 
Las Vegas sells everything to do with ham radios, from transceivers, 
amplifiers and antennas to handhelds.

"We have clientele from all walks of life," manager 
Luke Rohn told FoxNews.com. "We have church groups who are interested in 
ham radio for a viable source of communication in times of natural 
disaster. We have young kids that find ham radio interesting. Maybe 
they've heard about it through their father and grandfather and it's a 
lot of fun for them."

According to the American Radio Relay League, retirees 
and emergency groups are among the main reasons for the nearly 30,000 
new hams that pick up the hobby each year.

Ham is a boon for safety as well as a fun pastime: When normal 
communications methods fail and cellphone towers are jammed, ham radios 
will still work and can help out in disaster situations, because they 
don't require towers to relay the signal.

"Amateur radio came into play very much during the major earthquake in 
the Bay Area in 1989. The only thing I had was a little handheld 
radio. Nothing else worked, telephones didn't work, cellphones didn't 
work, amateur radio just kept right on working," Pritchett said.

Looking to ham it up a bit with some friends? Try a fox hunt -- the 
radio equivalent of ham-to-ham combat. In a fox hunt, local amateur 
radio clubs search for a transmitter (called the fox) using their 
homemade antennas.

"The fox hunting is really fun -- the thrill of the chase, the 
competition of being the first to find the transmitter," said Rob Mavis, 
president of the Clovis Amateur Radio Pioneers <http://www.k6arp.org/> 
club in Clovis, Calif.

Ham radio is inexpensive fun, as well: All you need is a couple hundred 
bucks to get started and a FCC license -- which is free, but requires a 
$10 to $12 fee to cover expenses.

So join the latest craze -- no iPhone app 

Read more: 
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