K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities
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Report by Jordan, AB2T

There is much discussion in QST, CQ, 73, and the like concerning the impending "death of amateur radio". Scores of operators tell of the obsolescence of code and "its irrelevance." As a young operator (age 18), I understand the concerns of many who feel that emerging technologies such as the Internet and personal communication devices rob amateur radio of young operators. True, ICQ and IRC chat may have replaced the allure of the Novice license and the simple pleasure of an interstate ragchew, but there is still much to be said for the simplicity of RF communication. In the words of Cliff Stoll, K7TA: "[one misses the] warbling sound of a chirpy signal." There is something missing from Internet communications; its sterility prevents it from being a fully enjoining form of communication. Herein lies the "necessity" of CW.

Only once in my (albeit brief) ham "career" have I spoken to another young ham, and this was in my Novice days. Most domestic (W/VE) operators express amazement when I mention my age in a ragchew. Usually they send for a repeat. When they find that indeed I am a young operator, they express amazement (and usually spin a yarn about their "Novice days".) Frequently contacts end with a statement along the lines of "what will happen to CW in the future when your generation is our age?" Frankly, CW will be lost without more young operators; unfortunately, young people fail to realize that CW is a difficult art that when mastered can be immensely rewarding. A non-ham friend of mine, an accomplished cellist, likened CW operation to the mastery of a fine instrument. While CW isn't nearly as challenging as the cello, there is a grain of truth in that statement. Like the ability to artfully manipulate an instrument to produce a beautiful piece, a skilled CW operator uses an instrument to produce code which can be musical and beautiful. Satisfaction comes not only with the communication itself but the ability to raise communication to the level of a highly refined and poetic art.

I support license restructuring only for the reason that it allows those who truly dislike CW a chance to communicate below 30 MHz. Yes, it is a liberalization of existing standards, but compromise is needed if the amateur radio community wishes to keep new hams, especially Technicians, within the fold and expose them to HF. But I do hope that the granting of HF privileges to more amateurs will place in them a desire to explore CW. We as hams, whether no-code Technician or Extra, should resolve not to perpetuate division but union. Only though tolerance and encouragement, not insult, can new hams, and especially young ones, discover the wealth hidden behind their neglected key.

I hope sincerely that there will never be a day when I will not hear the nervous fist of a newcomer pounding out an earnest "CQ", hoping that a more experienced operator will start him towards the pursuit of a most rewarding discipline.

73 SK,
Jordan Zarembo, AB2T

Report written in 1998 when Jordan was 18.

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