If you’ve been around ham radio for even a year or two, you’ve no doubt heard or participated in the debate as to whether or not ham radio is dying. The question is as perennial as the grass.
Recently, this was a topic of discussion on the ARRL PR mailing list. Allen, W1AGP, the ARRL’s Media & PR Manager, generated this chart to show that ham radio is NOT dying:
This chart is fairy dramatic, until you not the values on the y axis. Even so, the good news is that the number of licensees is quickly approaching 700,000, and should surpass that number shortly.
Upon seeing this chart, Jerry, N9TU, did a little statistical analysis of his own, producing this chart, which shows the distribution of licensees in his zip code.
From this data, he deduces, “If this is an average sampling of deceased members, expired members and club licenses there are roughly 90,000 fewer licensees than shown in the data nationwide. I have no clue of the error rate involved with my data. Your results may vary.” My guess is that his zip code is probably pretty typical, and that his analysis is essentially correct.
There’s also the question of activity. Previously, I’ve guessed that nearly half of all licensees are inactive, and that if we could figure out a way to activate those hams, then we’d really be able to say that our hobby is not dying. It’s something worth thinking about, but there’s certainly no easy answer to this problem. As Yogi Berra is purported to have said, “If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.”
Overall, though, I think the numbers are headed in the right direction. Let’s all keep up the good work.