Is the “HT Trap” Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?

Get two or more Hams together and the topic of our hobby’s growth—or lack thereof—will eventually come up. Some among our ranks are convinced we are doomed. Kids nowadays prefer Pinterest, YouTube and iPhones to DX, DSP and D-Star. Scan a hamfest crowd and it looks like a Grecian Formula test gone berserk. Others prefer that we not grow our ranks or just do not care one way or the other. Keeps the bands less congested. Or so what if nobody new joins the hobby? Don’t affect me none. I can still jump in with that same bunch of guys that have been meeting every night on 75 meters since Eisenhower was president.The truth is, much of that stuff in the previous paragraph is wrong. Our numbers are growing. Kids are finding us. So are middle-aged people and even older types who see what a great retirement avocation Amateur Radio is. All should be welcomed with open arms and a helpful spirit.That being said, I do believe there is one thing that is costing us many enthusiastic newcomers before they have had a good chance to experience most of what our hobby has to offer. I have seen this phenomenon over and over and it saddens me. See if you have observed it, too. Or maybe you are living it right now.Someone gets excited about Ham Radio, studies hard, passes the exam, and gets a license and call sign. Immediately he or she is faced with the challenge of how to get on the air. What radio to buy? How is it possible to put up an antenna? What would the newcomer even say to all those experienced operators out there if he or she did manage to get a working station on the air?

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