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NU9N SSB Audio News Editorial - March, 2005

(Why Are You An Amateur Radio Operator?)

About NU9NWhat is it that makes amateur radio a hobby you want to enjoy?

We have all shared QSO's with amateur radio operators from every background you can imagine; some technical, most not. Amateur radio operators represent a slice of every country, every interest, every passion that man has ever experienced.

Everyone can be proud of their personal accomplishments and contributions to this great fraternity no matter how small because we have all learned something that unifies us; Electromagnetic signals carries information that can be demodulated into information on the receiving end. It still amazes me that this medium of communications works at all. What amazes me even more though, is why individuals have chosen this form of communications over commercial media like the telephone, the Internet or snail-mail. And this brings me to the following question...

What is it about amateur radio that prompted you to get a license to operate? Certainly there are more stable and reliable forms of communications than amateur radio... We can dial a person or persons with 100% reliability and no noise on our telephones! Why amateur radio? Someone may argue that amateur radio is free... But is it? Hardly! Look at what you have spent on your rigs, antenna, tower, cables, amplifier, gizmos, electricity bills, etc... Someone else may argue that amateur radio is an emergency service when commercial media is inaccessible... While this is certainly an important aspect of amateur radio, it only accounts for rare situations and is probably less than .1% of what the amateur community has actually participated in. No, there must be another reason that we risk our lives climbing towers and sticking our hands into boxes that carry lethal voltages, spend countless hours building antennas and equipment, spending thousands of dollars and frustrating our spouses when they want to spend an evening with us instead of hearing all of those strange noises coming from our receivers in the other room...

Let's face it... we like to play... We like to tinker... We like to experiment... We like to see results from our efforts... We are project oriented... and, we like to talk about nothing and everything! We do not feel threatened by this means of communication, like other means, because we have something in common... We are "Ham Operators!" We don't care if there is static, QSB, selective fading or marginal operating conditions, we are "On-The-Air" and that's good enough!

So why are we so infatuated with transmitting and receiving RF? Just what is it about being "On-The-Air" that fascinates us so much? As pointed out earlier, we could choose from several other means of communicating... So why such a passion with this noisy unreliable mode of communication?

EGO !!! Plain and simple... Ego.
Come on now, be honest, amateur radio is not a necessary mode of communications, nor is it practical in many situations. But it does fill a need to be recognized and appreciated for even having a signal that is readable on the receiving end, and one that we were directly responsible for creating. We are proud of our transmitted signals for one reason or another... Either for signal strength, signal quality, or both! For most of us I think, it is our private and personal way of emulating the broadcasters that we grew up with and a way that we can personalize our flavor and form of RF modulation. Why else would we do it?

For those of us that are playing with a higher form of audio fidelity, the personal gratification is worth all of the effort and hassle for those who can really appreciate it. For those of us who are more focused on the signal strength, there is gratification when you here that 5/9 +40dB report. For those who just like this medium because it their way of venting their anger or frustrations in life... shame on them... They should keep their anger off-the-air so that the rest of us can enjoy our hobby and fruits of our labor.

Amateur Radio is an experimenter's hobby. It is a medium in which we can share our passions, ideas and simply play radio. Enjoy it, embrace it, experiment with it and encourage it... If you insist on criticizing it, perhaps it is not for you after all in which case I would ask, "What's the Point?"


-John Anning, NU9N

John M. Anning - NU9N
Phone: 1-815-631-5042
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