In a recent column in Electronic Design magazine, editor Don Tuite, NR7X, said the following:
Hypothesis: Doing away with the code requirement last March has completed a rejuvenation of ham radio that was triggered by the World Trade Center attacks and Katrina. Iâ€™m looking for reader comments yea and nay.
He goes on to say how in the San Francisco Bay area, they are licensing 50 or more new hams ever month, and one of the biggest draws seems to be the ability to use ham radio for emergency communications. Furthermore, he says, dropping the Morse Code requirement for the General and Extra Class licenses is now encouraging those who have Tech licenses to upgrade and do things like HF DXing.
I’m not so sure that this is happening here in the Ann Arbor, MI area, but I do think that there has been a resurgence of interest in amateur radio. I attribute it to the convergence of a number of factors. Eliminating the code test requirement was one of them, as well as a renewed interest in emergency communications. (I think Katrina had more of an effect on those folks than did the 9/11 disaster, though.) Another factor is what I call the “MAKE movement,” that is those that find satisfaction in creating things with their own hands and minds. I also think that amateur radio itself is doing a much better job of drawing people in, or at least doing a better job of not turning them away.
Jim, W6RMK, commented that emergency communications is only one of the five “purposes” of amateur radio, and the other four should be given some consideration as well. I agree. When I speak to organizations about amateur radio, I try to emphasize all five of them, as they are all equally valid reasons for folk to get licensed and equally valid reasons for the continued existence of the amateur radio SERVICE.