In the March 2014 issue of QST, Harold Kramer, WJ1B makes a big deal of the fact that ARRL membership is now up to 162,200 members and growing at a rate of about 1% per year. After patting the ARRL on the back about this, WJ1B launches into a discussion of the different programs that WJ1B feels have contributed to the membership growth.
Let’s take another look at the numbers, though. As the editorial points out, 10,300 ARRL members are international members, meaning that there 151,900 U.S. hams are ARRL members. Another article in the March issue, “New Licenses,” notes that the total number of licensed radio amateurs at the end of 2013 was 717,201. If you do the math, you’ll find that only slightly more than one in five hams are ARRL members. I personally don’t think that’s so hot, and it’s certainly not worthy of all the self-congratulation going on in this editorial.
The licensing article also points out that “the amateur radio population in the US grew by slightly more than 1 percent last year.” That being the case, ARRL membership has grown at about the same rate. If all the programs noted in WJ1B’s editorial were so effective, wouldn’t you expect membership growth to be at least 2%?
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I think the ARRL should set a goal to enroll at least 25% of licensed radio amateur as members. It seems to me that any group calling itself “the national organization for amateur radio” should have at least one in four amateur radio operators as part of their membership. I think it says something that the membership rate is so low.
What do you think? Am I right or is reaching 25% asking too much?