Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Dying Hobby...

I think it's safe to say that in the UK, activity on 2m and 70cm is on the decline. It may be slow, and it may be quieter in some areas than in others but it definitely seems to be on the decline. I went up Matchmoor lane near Winter Hill in Bolton the other night to play a bit of radio /p. I spent a couple of hours putting calls out on S20 and managed 6 contacts! We had 2m FM, 2m SSB, 70cm FM, 6M, DMR 70cm and DSTAR 2m/70cm at our disposal and that is all we managed. This made me wonder what is happening to our hobby.

Now don't get me wrong, some nights are busier than others and that was only a 2 hour snapshot of the hobby but I spend alot of time listening around from home and get disheartened about how quiet 2m and 70cm are getting.

Are people leaving the hobby? Is anyone interested in radio anymore? Are many people taking their foundation exams? Well when you look at the numbers, there's quite a lot you can take from them. Here's some of my thoughts on the amateur radio license statistics from Ofcom.

Since the new year, there have been 528 new foundation licenses issues but if your area is anything like Manchester, they don't come on the air much. Possibly due to nerves, some never come on air after getting their license. Some use it just to talk to one or two friends. I don't hear many M6's around here, or new ones at least.

The worrying thing its that we've lost 1051 full license holders. Sadly there's lots of silent keys which can be seen on the RSGB website, and some that become too old to be bothered with the hobby, and others that just never re-validate their licenses. A lot of full license holders were probably the older generation of amateurs that we mainly active in the 70's and 80's.

All in all there are -308 less amateurs as of this September than there was in January 2015.

Club Foundation Full (Recip) Full Intermediate Total
January '15 1500 19951 759 53059 8468 83737
February '15 1497 19929 761 52589 8460 83236
March '15 1493 20017 761 52493 8495 83259
April '15 1475 20101 768 52448 8544 83336
May '15 1473 20164 768 52084 8564 83053
June '15 1477 20266 770 51912 8584 83009
July '15 1473 20339 776 51870 8625 83083
August '15 1473 20444 778 51957 8675 83327
September '15 1473 20479 777 52008 8692 83429
Total +/- -27 528 18 -1051 224 -308

Some people reading this may have different views than me but I do feel the hobby is slowly dying which is such a shame. Now on the other side of things, there are plenty of new avenues to go down linked to amateur radio, many of which have come about in the last couple of years such as DMR, SDR and the slightly older DSTAR.

Equipment is getting cheaper and cheaper too, Baofeng handhelds and all these cheap £60-£150 mobile radios are making it easier to get on air from a financial point of view. So why are there less people on the air nowadays? Could it be social media and the ever falling price of mobile phone tarrifs? 

In the early 2000's I remember having so much choice when it came to what I listened to on those late nights sat up in bed with my scanner. When I became licensed in 2004, there were so many people to talk to on many different frequencies around 2m and 70cm. Nowadays I can scan around 2m in the evenings and be lucky to come across anyone. More than one local QSO going on at the same time on 2m these days is a rarity around here.

Let me know your thoughts on this. Is your area busy?

Thanks for reading!
73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

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