A “Sticky” Idea About Ham Radio

I’ve just started reading the book, Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. The premise of this book is that if you have something to say, there are good ways and bad ways to formulate and present your ideas, and that if you do it the good way and not the bad way, your ideas have a much better chance of catching on. They, of course, claim to show the good way to do this.

The first thing they teach you is that the ideas that tend to succeed are very basic, simple ideas. For example, the idea that supposedly propelled Bill Clinton into the White House was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” By focusing on that simple, basic idea, Clinton was able to go from the governorship of a small state to the presidency of the United States.

With that in mind, I propose that amateur radio adopt the idea, “Ham Radio is Fun.” It is fun, after all, isn’t it? Why are you an amateur radio operator? Because it’s fun, right?

All the rest is secondary. Yes, we can claim that we’re providing a wonderful public service—and we are—but the only reason there are hams to provide that service is because they’re having fun doing it.

I am so convinced that this should be the central message of ham radio that I have put my money where my mouth is. I just registered the domain names hamradioisfun.com, hamradioisfun.org, and hamradioisfun.net and pointed them all to this blog. I’m even thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Ham Radio is Fun.”

A couple of years ago, I commented on an editorial in the ARRL Contest Rate Sheet by Ward Silver, N0AX, who wrote that we should evaluate changes to the hobby based on whether or not it makes ham radio “better,” whatever that means. At the time, I supported that position, and still do. In keeping with my new, sticky idea, I think a better criterion is whether or not something makes ham radio more fun.

Now, let’s see. Does regulation by bandwidth make ham radio more fun? If not, can it.

I also think ham radio clubs should adopt this idea. Don’t start a project or program if it isn’t going to be fun, and if you’re already doing something that’s not fun, quit doing it. Simple, isn’t it? Start making your club more fun, and I guarantee that you’ll be more successful.


  1. Boy, does this strike a chord with me! For me, Ham Radio is a way for me to relax and have some enjoyment. You are dead-on with things like public service (some people might argue that they don’t do it because it’s “fun”, but I think deep down folks just plain enjoy helping others, which is the same thing), but above all, if ham radio wasn’t fun I’d give up and find another hobby.

    Thanks for posting this.

    David, K2DBK

  2. Dan, great post! I started my blog about ham radio earlier this year and it was fun in the beginning. Then it got to be less fun and more work and I let it stagnate. This was partly becuase I had too many ‘irons in the fire.’

    This idea of “ham radio is fun” is an eye-opener. It’s something many of us have forgotten. It’s why we all got into the hobby to begin with and many have forgotten. I’m most active in emergency communications on various levels and, yes, I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun.

    Your blog is my favorite ham radio blog and I follow many of them through the Google Blog Alert service. Your posts almost always appear in the list. Keep up the good work.

    Ken, WA2KKG

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