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QRM from the President’s Shack

How to Save a Ham Radio Club

February 2023

      In a recent video, Matt Kaskavitch, K0LWC, offered several suggestions about how to improve and grow your ham radio club in video. The video generated a lot of discussion on The comments were mostly positive, but there were some naysayers as is usual with QRZ.

      This got me thinking about how we can revitalize our own Metrocrest Amateur Radio Society. In case you haven’t noticed, MARS is aging. Membership is pretty static and enthusiasm for various activities is lacking. So, what can we do?

      In the discussion, Allen McBroom, AG5ND, offered a list of ideas (slightly edited) that we might consider:

  1. Ask every member to help with some task/job/project. If they don’t get involved, they go away from lack of purpose.

  2. Make it part of your culture that all radio in all modes in all flavors is good radio—no CW snobs; no FT8 bashing—all radio is good radio.

  3. Don’t let “grumpy hams” sit in club offices. Many clubs decay due to unpleasant personalities and “grumpy hams” aren’t pleasant to be around.

  4. Have small social events. Have breakfast at some restaurant once a month, and just eat, have coffee, and talk about stuff.

  5. Avoid political discussions. Have the club elders and officers agree among themselves that they won’t participate in that, even if they agree with the topic.

  6. ID the youngest member or the greenest ham, find out what they are interested in, and ask them to spend 15-20 minutes explaining it at a club meeting. We had a 15-year-old Extra explain slow scan TV to us one night, and he talked over my head part of the time. Good talk, and it increased my humble ratio significantly.

  7. Have a brief eating event at the home of a home-bound ham. Get his/her okay, and then set up a grill in the backyard, cook breakfast or burgers, bring potluck dishes, and clean up nice when you leave. The ham finally gets to be involved, and everyone gets to meet that ham they’ve only heard about.

  8. Have a joint event with another club, no matter how small or big they are. A POTA day, or a kit building class, or something similar where club size doesn’t matter.

  9. Go back to #2. All radio is good radio. Adopt the mantra that all radio—yes, even CB, even digital, even 5 WPM CW—is good radio, and preach it with your actions and your attitude. Everyone is welcome. No license? No problem, we can help. No radio? No problem, we can help. No antenna? No problem, we can help. All they have is a shortwave receiver? Tell us about it. 13 years old? Call him/her by name, invite them back, and ask them to bring questions, and maybe tell the club what fun stuff they are doing with radio.

  10. Last thing. You can choose if your club lives or dies. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, you can do it. An interested 25-year-old with a Tech license can do more good by acting and taking part than the most experienced ham who just shows up twice a year. If you don’t think you have what it takes to create a good club with a great culture, read 1–9 again. You can do one thing on that list, no matter how small, and make a difference.

      What do you think? Drop me a line and share your thoughts. If you wish to keep your comments confidential, then let me know. Many thanks for your feedback.

73 David Gilpin, K5GIL

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