The Curmudgeon factor…

Posted: July 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


When Hams gather, we often talk about ways to bring young people into the Hobby. I think one of the factors we fail to address is the Curmudgeon factor. Whenever you look at photos of a DX Club meeting, take a look at the faces in the crowd. How many of them are smiling or have a grin on their face? Chances are that most of us have a big frown on our face.

DXers by nature seem to be introverts and are not the “life of the party”. I feel that many amateurs are surely and just plain unfriendly to new comers.

When I was in Elementary school. There was a house on my route to school that had a big tower and an antenna. I had an idea that the owner was a Ham and I would have loved to have talked to him about his station. The owner was often out in his yard, garden hose in hand and no one wanted to get too close to him. He always had a surely look and was not in any way approachable. I walked by his house for six years and never felt that I could approach and talk to him.

Many years later, when my friend George-N6NKT and I visited our local DX Club for the first time, we both came away with the impression that the gathering was full of Curmudgeons and was not at all friendly or welcoming to new comers. We let a few years go by and made another visit and found the Club more welcoming. We joined the club and have been members ever since.

I think the point that I am trying to make is that many of us because of our personalities can turn young people off before they even get a chance to see the “magic” of radio or learn how exciting and fun it can be. First, they have to get past the Curmudgeons.

Are you a Curmudgeon?  What can you do to make the hobby more welcoming to newcomers?

What do you think?

  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    Actually, I had the same first impression about the same DX club (at least I assume the same one). When I first visited I was 32, so hardly a kid, but I definitely felt out of place and I can only imagine what a 13 year old might have felt like. To tell you the truth, while I met some super nice people in that club, I never really felt like I fit in and eventually let my membership lapse. I don’t blame the other club members for all that, I just think we were from separate generations and the gulf was too wide.

    I think maybe the best thing we could do is to provide support, guidance and encouragement for the younger hams, and a smile, but let them do their own thing. They’re just not going to fit in a traditional DX club. When I got into ham radio at age 13, I acquired an incredibly patient Elmer more than 3 times my own age, to whom I will be forever grateful, but I didn’t really like any of the clubs I visited then either. It wasn’t till I got to college and joined a radio club with other hams of my own age and background that I really felt things click. W4NL (of CQ DX Hall of Fame) helped us out by installing a tower and beam for us, which we greatly appreciated. I think it was a very tactful way of supporting us while still letting us do our own thing.

    So to summarize: I agree that DXing is not especially welcoming to newcomers, particularly young people. If you want to help youngsters out, become an elmer. Lend them old equipment you’re no longer using. Support their clubs, if there are any. Maybe get involved in the Maker movement if you’re so inclined. And yes, go out of your way to smile and welcome them to your DX club if they show up — but don’t expect them to stick around.

    • N6PSE's Blog says:

      HI Mike, I completely agree with your views. Yes, we are thinking of the same club, which has improved considerably over the years. I loved it when a recent Club President greeted everyone as they arrived to the meetings and made sure to greet any newcomers. As you point out, a smile or a grin is a key first step and is often not made. I would like to see DX Clubs adopt a local school and foster a ham program there. The Maker movement is ideal as is the Boy and Girl Scouts. But it all begins with a smile and a warm hello. Thanks for your input and 73,

      Paul N6PSE

  2. Warren says:

    i think there’s more than a little truth in what you’ve written, Paul. Well said.
    I’m sorry it came out too late to be included in this month’s NFDXA PileUp newsletter.
    With your permission I’ll save the “Curmudgeon Factor” and use it in the August issue.
    73 es DX,
    Warren NW4C

  3. Robert H. Pusch, WD8NVN says:

    What do I think about Curmudgeons in Amateur Radio…Curmudgeons stopped liking ham radio a long time ago, usually because I think, of never being formally “Thanked” and “Recognized” for effort on helping-out with radio club actitivies..

    For a newcomer to amateur radio, DXing is just too complicated, the frustration with propagation, and much too time consuming… I do advocate DXing in my circle of friends… But at the end of many years, if new hams are still active, they will realize DXing is the essense of ham radio, and asking themselves: “Why did I spend do much time doing thankless activities concerning this hobby”…

    I avoid turning into ham radio Curmudgeon by participating in things I honestly want to do.. If there’s anything that causes conitive-dissonance, I say without hesitation: “No, I am not interested.”

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