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Is it time to rename the hobby?


VE6RWP
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It used to be that an "Amateur" was someone who was not paid for something they did. The Olympics were Amateur Sports.  The best of the best but no one got paid to train and compete.  The definition of amateur was:"noun 1. a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis."  Then somewhere along the line a second definition was added: "2. a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity."  this seems to be the more accepted definition.  

Should we be renaming ourselves to "Volunteer Radio Operators" to shake that definition of incompetence from our hobbies name?  

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ELMER
3 hours ago, VE6RWP said:

It used to be that an "Amateur" was someone who was not paid for something they did. The Olympics were Amateur Sports.  The best of the best but no one got paid to train and compete.  The definition of amateur was:"noun 1. a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis."  Then somewhere along the line a second definition was added: "2. a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity."  this seems to be the more accepted definition.  

Should we be renaming ourselves to "Volunteer Radio Operators" to shake that definition of incompetence from our hobbies name?  

You must read my mind. I hope you don't know my bank account number!

I have always felt this. It does fall on deaf ears, though. As for workable alternatives, I do like your Volunteer Radio Operators, that's good. I don't think it's the money shot yet, but it's a very very good starting point.

Anyone else? Name ideas? Even if this goes absolutely nowhere, I think it's a really good exercise in self-identification. It'll be interesting to see what words people associate with the practice (notice the deliberate absence of the word 'hobby' - another change necessary?)

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56 minutes ago, K3MRI said:

You must read my mind. I hope you don't know my bank account number!

I have always felt this. It does fall on deaf ears, though. As for workable alternatives, I do like your Volunteer Radio Operators, that's good. I don't think it's the money shot yet, but it's a very very good starting point.

Anyone else? Name ideas? Even if this goes absolutely nowhere, I think it's a really good exercise in self-identification. It'll be interesting to see what words people associate with the practice (notice the deliberate absence of the word 'hobby' - another change necessary?)

I am looking at two of the more successful "amateur" organizations.  Volunteer fire fighters and Volunteer Search and Rescue. Neither group has the issues Amateur radio does and I think it comes down to 3 things.  The name "Volunteer", their dedication to training and their dedication to a professional attitude.  I am sure we have groups that meet the last two items but cannot get past the first one.  Hence the "Oh they are just a bunch of amateurs" comments I keep seeing about ARES and HAM Operators in General.  You mentioned "Doctors without Borders", They have High training standards, High professionality and no "Amateur" in their name.  People know they are volunteering their skills and they are trained Doctors.  Branding ARES as a highly trained professional organization will never happen with the connotation of the word amateur and it being the first component of our name.  I too am interested in other suggestions for a name as we have the same issues here in Canada.  

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ELMER
19 hours ago, VE6RWP said:

I am looking at two of the more successful "amateur" organizations.  Volunteer fire fighters and Volunteer Search and Rescue. 

You had me at the first sentence. I'm in! You do realize that we're going to get a lot of flack from others in the community, notably the big organizations that have staked years in the name... ARRL, RAC, JARL, etc. And, by the way, I get where that might be an issue for them. But to be frank, I like where this is going. I'm not yet 100% sure that Volunteer Radio Operator is the one that would knock me out, but it's darn close. Let's keep this conversation going fellow Volunteer 😎

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13 minutes ago, K3MRI said:

You had me at the first sentence. I'm in! You do realize that we're going to get a lot of flack from others in the community, notably the big organizations that have staked years in the name... ARRL, RAC, JARL, etc. And, by the way, I get where that might be an issue for them. But to be frank, I like where this is going. I'm not yet 100% sure that Volunteer Radio Operator is the one that would knock me out, but it's darn close. Let's keep this conversation going fellow Volunteer 😎

The trick is not to change the root organizations names, but rebrand to the average person. Change ARES to VRES (Volunteer Radio Emergency Service), tell a story of how we still are essential when all else fails and show all the Volunteering we have done in the past from our Volunteer involvement during  9/11, in the fires in California, helping Puerto Rico, the Floods and fires in Canada, etc. Re-branding is serious work but we have the raw material already to tell the story. Look at "Low Dose Asprin"  is was originally "Baby Asprin" until it was associated with Ryse Syndrome in children. Bayer spent some time and some money and now "Low Dose Asprin" is branded as a life saver for people who have heart attacks, almost no one remembers the Baby Asprin fiasco nor do they remember where the initial research was done on the drug.  Society today is so market driven that if you tell the new story enough times people will start to forget the old one.  So I guess we really do not need to change the name of the hobby, as we who are in the hobby know what it means, we just need to change the public perception of the hobby.  Our public face in emergency situations is ARES. It needs a new image and a new brand.  Starting there would be a smaller, more achievable, better tasting option to the organizations that have a vested interest in the Amateur part of the name. Piggy backing on the "Volunteer" perception is the easier way of changing that association the public has of us as the rhetoric starts talking about volunteers and stops mentioning Amateur.  Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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While I agree 100% with your analysis, I have another challenge to throw into the batter. We do have a branding problem in the ARES, emcomm, etc. sense, but we also have a branding problem when it comes to simply explaining the hobby. How do we explain who we are and what we do to friends, family and potential hams? Again, the word 'amateur' is a hindrance. But as you say, let's see what others think. Let's see if I can rope in @KW4TO @W4DOI @WA8AHZ or @WA2WMR ...

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Actually I like I would like to see the radio service be modified a little bit. I would like to see us able to broadcast music and do other things like that just above the broadcast band on 160. Or baby VHF frequencies. Then in that case we will not be  amateur at all. And in addition there are a few other terms I would like to change. For example ragchew I would like to just say chat. Or eyeball. Kind of disgusting don't you think? Just say in person meeting orsuch. Anyway the term amateur mite fit. In Hebrew we use the term radio hobbyist or radio lover.

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6 minutes ago, W3TTT said:

 

Actually I like I would like to see the radio service be modified a little bit. I would like to see us able to broadcast music and do other things like that just above the broadcast band on 160. Or baby VHF frequencies. Then in that case we will not be  amateur at all. And in addition there are a few other terms I would like to change. For example ragchew I would like to just say chat. Or eyeball. Kind of disgusting don't you think? Just say in person meeting orsuch. Anyway the term amateur mite fit. In Hebrew we use the term radio hobbyist or radio lover.

Hey Joseph.

50/50 with you. I'm not into broadcasting music and the like. I think that this will open the floodgates of abuse on air. Imagine someone playing Stairway to Heaven, he'll kill the frequency for fifteen minutes. As for ragchew and eyeball, I kinda agree. I mean they are now part of our vocabulary, but so were other words that we have wisely eradicated from the English language (and others). Never actually thought of it before you mentioned it but you're right, 'eyeball'?? 😱 And chewing on a rag? Is that what we do? I'm still for what Ron proposed earlier, I like the term volunteer. In fact, let me show off our new car magnets... Just had some ordered, they should be here soon.

volunteer emcom.png

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Just as Volunteer fire fighters do what professionals do, and Volunteer search and rescue the same, Some professional radio operators are those who work on ships. They maintain equipment and pass messages between ships and shore.  They are not broadcasters who play music the radio operators are the guys behind the scene keeping the broadcast radios running.  There job is to keep the broadcast messages on the air, nothing more.

I see this hobby, this band of volunteers, as those who do the same as the professional radio operators and more.  We experiment, we develop new methods of passing messages form place to place. We are there when there are not enough professionals to do what needs to be done.  Not everyone is into emergency message passing, but not everyone is into earth-moon-earth communications, or satellite, or bouncing signals off of meteorite trails. It all boils down to passing messages the best we can with the technology we have available at the time, for practice, for personal reasons, for experimenting or for times of need and public service. That is just me, I am new in the hobby and full of ideals, I hope I never get over it.....:-). 

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ELMER

@VE6RWP Great insights for a newcomer to the hobby. Really. So, do you like my sign? As soon as it gets here, I will take a picture of it on my jeep.

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2 minutes ago, K3MRI said:

@VE6RWP Great insights for a newcomer to the hobby. Really. So, do you like my sign? As soon as it gets here, I will take a picture of it on my jeep.

I do like it.  Where are you getting it printed?  Can I use the design to have my own printed up?

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I am tossed up on this one.  I have been a strong opponent of the career fire service claiming "professional firefighter" for many years, due to many volunteers being very professional and many career being not so professional.  Only a piece of the definition of professional is tied to being paid, the rest is about specialized knowledge/skills, academic/vocational preparation, and technical/ethical standards.

However, clearly the term "amateur" sets a very different expectation for many, from those who don't know what this is to those in professions we must work with and/or provide service to.  I do not think that "volunteer emergency radio service" quite does it either.  While I got started in this and my primary focus is emergency communications, I believe it also gives an inaccurate representation.

If Auxiliary Communications wasn't being used for specific purpose, I'd say that covers it fairly well, simple and broad.  That said, maybe "Volunteer Auxiliary Radio Service"?  With emergency communications, auxiliary communications, contesting, experimentation, etc. being branches within.  (In good acronym style - VARS-EC, VARS-AC, VARS-CON, VARS-EXP, etc. 🤣)

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7 hours ago, VE6RWP said:

I do like it.  Where are you getting it printed?  Can I use the design to have my own printed up?

Getting them printed up here, in the US. I ordered a first test batch of six. I'm waiting to see the quality and then I'll order more and put them up for sale (they won't be very expensive). Maybe $20 each plus shipping. They're 18 x 18-inches (±45 x 45 cm). As soon as I get them I'll let you know. I'm expecting them late this coming week!!

4 minutes ago, KB7THL said:

"Volunteer Auxiliary Radio Service"?  With emergency communications, auxiliary communications, contesting, experimentation, etc. being branches within.  (In good acronym style - VARS-EC, VARS-AC, VARS-CON, VARS-EXP, etc. 🤣)

Hey Mike, I like this approach too!!! Food for thought, indeed.

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  • 1 month later...
On 10/26/2019 at 12:09 PM, K3MRI said:

Getting them printed up here, in the US. I ordered a first test batch of six. I'm waiting to see the quality and then I'll order more and put them up for sale (they won't be very expensive). Maybe $20 each plus shipping. They're 18 x 18-inches (±45 x 45 cm). As soon as I get them I'll let you know. I'm expecting them late this coming week!!

 

Did you get your signs?  I know it is a busy time of year, I am just curious what they look like.

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Hey Ron. We got the first beta batch. We're going to put them up for sale when the store goes live which won't be for another few weeks. But here's a shot with what they looked like!!

As you'll notice, I had to cut off the logo on the bottom from one set because my car door was too small. So going forward, I'm going to make it two sizes, I think. My buddy has his on a RAM3500 and it looks fine.

IMG_1560.jpeg

IMG_1583.jpeg

IMG_1585.jpeg

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  • 3 months later...
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ELMER

Just a thought but why not change the sign to what is already undeniably true. "Emergency Radio Service Volunteer." That also avoids waiving the taunt flag at a heard of bulls.

--

Tom Horne W3TDH

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  • 1 year later...

good luck trying to swim up a waterfall.

the sorta same thing in other hobby's. some just use one term, even knowing it is a wrong term. (model trains..."N gauge", should be "N scale"). for those not in the know. gauge is the spacing of the rails, scale is the size. (train sizing Z, N, HO, TT, S, O ( in three different sizing). G, then all the "larger scales up to the 12 inch to the foot guys.

 

ham radio will never be as big as it once was, thanks to the cellphone and such, heck most kids these days just want to play games on there computers, i wish computers had been usable back when i was in school. not for games just what i have learned surfing on the web. history is fun now. but i still s*** in math.

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I agree, the hobby is not as big as it was. There are less people interested in it and less young people in the hobby. It is a niche hobby and not for everyone, we just need to figure out how to find the right audience and get Radio in front of them to gain their interest.  After all it is all about the marketing. 🙂

There is still a need as has been exhibited time and time again.  With the new First responder radio system here in Alberta and similar systems in other locations, HAM Radio will not be needed as much however it will still be needed at times.  All those new systems did not help Porto Rico when the Hurricane wiped out it's infrastructure and HAM Radio was set up to communicate through out the territory.  HAM radio still plays a factor in California and the wild fires.  Auxiliary Communications / supplemental communications is still needed from time to time.  (See we are slowly changing the name in these cases) Given that, for those of us into EmComm, it is better to be ready and not needed than needed and not ready.

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 have been out of this hobby for a time, many problems. but trying to get back into it. my main radio is a yaesu fT 897 (no letter), it was a new kid on the block when i bought it. couple others a alinco dr 605, and a yaesu vz-8. all are now called old flea market stuff. but both of my yaesu's are also very wanted units, even tho the manf wants nothing to do with them.

just none of the fancy bells and whistles of the new units (past 20+ years). heck even my power supply is a radio shack unit. bought long before they went consumer goods or went away.

i have thought about under, being prepared, to buy a very old tube type of radio, with extra tubes, as this will survive a emp (man made or from the sun, other?). growing up in earthquake country i do not fear them. and then set up a very old gen (new alt have a chip in them) for a bicycle power electric supply.

 

but now i live in a valley up in the hills, going to be interesting to see about getting out. working on a sewer pipe pole tower, should get up a good 40 ft agl. but not much higher as a county airport is about 5 miles away and yes they fly above me. no problems for a tower as hills say they must stay over 1000 - 1500 feet up or crash.

thanks to the over reach of the faa my drone has been grounded and it was limited to only 400 feet agl. then all the trees.  what they did to toy drones would be like requring all hams to buy a commercial broadcasters permit, and only transmit off a radio, tower/location pre-aproved by them.

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Glad to see this thread is alive and well. It has also given me time to think about the original question: "Is it time to rename the hobby?" But before I get to that, I want to build on something @KG6TGU says above. He states: "ham radio will never be as big as it once was". Well, would that necessarily be a bad thing? Is, perhaps, quality better than quantity? I would rather have 500,000 active, interested and interesting hams than 1 million simply licensed ones. I think the challenge will be, if the numbers dwindle, to keep the manufacturers interested. As the pool of clients diminishes, so too will their ability to invest in product development. Although, I have read enough comments on ham census to know that many would prefer a slower development pipeline in favor of longevity. In short, I think there will be fewer of us going forward, the goal should therefore be less about growing the hobby and more about making it resilient and sustainable.

Now back to the original question of name. It will only change if it happens organically over years. I don't see an institutionally driven one happening any time soon. The ARRL has too much invested in the name. The FCC doesn't care and won't do anything unless there is a tidal wave of influence. Who else? The ITU? Powerless to do so. IARU? That's just an extension of the ARRL. Other countries? Only Japan and Thailand have real sway in the hobby but I, frankly, can't speak to their feeling because it is unknown to  me. In short, unless 'we' start to fawn over a new name, unless we suddenly discover a term that 'catches on' it won't happen. Of course, it would be fun to explore actual new name possibilities. This is not new, it has been done before, but no one has really made a serious attempt at finding and then lobbying for a change.

So, if anyone wants to start the ball, go at it. What would you see as a name that fits our passion? Note that if we get to a critical mass or good names, I'll make it into a question on hamensus.org, maybe it'll pick up steam.

I won't go first. Any takers?

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one of the worst parts of getting into this radio stuff... is just coughing up the ca$h for a good radio. kids of and era do not have much if any moneys. sure lots of ebay junk, communist chinese copy trash. then all the extras just go get on the air. wire needs room. poles get bad press. somebody has to complain they can not watch there "reality tv show". or there toaster is talking.

now if the prices could drop a bit at the manf/new and used radio sales level. then...are all the new fangled things really needed? sure the water fall looks cool but needed?

then for those living at mom & dads place, just hanging a wire let alone putting up a pole.  apartments, hoa's etc.  then just location.

 

i do like    "volunteer radio service".

but as for a door sign.

"emergency radio service"   

sounds good. no need to add in volunteer, (to me that is a given. and not needed) for the door sign. but then i like just meat and potatoes. says it all and shows others (if a emergency is in effect) who you are. cause your not the media, or a leo. but your the guy who can get the needed info (in or out) right now.

and no reason to have a web site listed on it. can place "other" stickers on the car.

as to sizing of the sign? my car of choice is a 1984 cj-7 (set up to go most everywhere i point it) but i run with no doors most of the year. so not much room for a magnet sign on it. (something else?) or my 2020 F250. plenty of room there. (not a go devil). some kind of ---small--- flag/banner. easy to put up and take down and can be seen by all.

i do not have much time/money right now, but will see about such, at least for my jeep and thoughts.

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When I hear "volunteer radio operator" the image that pops into my mind is the guy wearing the BDU's, some kind of "Ham Radio, call sign XXXX" police-style badge clipped to his belt, a black tee shirt with some kind of emblem on it that pretends to convey some sort of authority, combat boots, sunglasses, baseball cap with his call sign embroidered on the front, and a baofeng with the four-foot-long whip antenna who follows behind the firetruck or police car looking for an emergency to interfere with.  Probably has a clipboard lying on the passenger seat so he can fill out his "incident report" form he printed out on his computer.  Your average "prepper guy" who has a mobile 2-meter radio in his jeep fills this position.

I get it that hams help with natural disasters and crisis and such, but I suspect the more experienced (and more helpful) ones do it from their shack.

I prefer "Recreational Radio Operator" for your average "no-training" ham.  I was a cop long enough to understand the best thing a citizen can do to "help me" in an emergency is stay the hell out of the way.

Now if it's a person who actually has some FEMA or ARRL or ARES formal training to assist in an emergency, then that's a different story.  Those people are actually doing a professionals job without the pay, know when to help and when to get out of the way, and in that case "volunteer radio operator" fits.

Edited by KD3Y
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Unfortunately there are all types in the hobby. ARES and AuxComm are invited Services, they don't show up till someone asks them to be there.  These operators are trained, serious communicators that are there to solve communications issues.  They are not first responders, Incident commanders or cowboys. Ok so having said that, they are also human.  From my limited experience, the majority of operators, whose interest is EmComm, believe and follow the intent, philosophy and goals of Emergency Communications, which is essentially to quietly provide an invited communications solution or supplement in an emergency.  This ranges passing messages from the shack, from hospitals, from Incident command centers, from Evacuation Centers, to safely observing and relaying ground truth in an incident, but again under the direction of the proper chain of incident command.

It is unfortunate that the whole hobby tends to be judged on those instances where the over zealous operator, who probably has misguided good intentions or a hero complex, gets in the way or even becomes part of the problem and not part of the solution.  The bad incidents that grab attention are remembered better than the good work that is done in the background.  

On that same not, the hobby does not market itself well yet.  Society is so market driven that if the hobby does not market and talk about the good it does, not enough people know about it. It is like we are becoming a Secret organization. I have run into many people that don't even know Ham radio exists. Yet we played a major roll in Porto Rico after the Hurricane wiped out the island's communication infrastructure, We are involved in the fires in California, volcanic eruptions and evacuations across the sea and even serious Floods and tornadoes in Canada.  Not many know about all the help we have provided as a hobby and the good we do.  We don't blow our own horn, we just quietly work in the background doing what we do.  I would say most of those in EmComm are in it to help and not be in the lime light.

 

 

Edited by VE6RWP
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