Will There Be a HAM Radio Resurgence?
The dedication of hardcore HAM radio enthusiasts has helped keep the tradition alive with affordability playing an additional powerful role. But, is there a swelling of interest among the younger generation in radio communications? If you’re anything like the rest of America, you’ve seen, or at least heard of, the Netflix original show ‘Stranger Things’ that’s captured the heart of millions and kept them captivated by a world that embodies sci-fi, Stephen King, and killer 80’s music.
The show follows a group of kids who become mixed up in some dangerous scientific experiments being conducted by a top-secret government agency. These courageous kids, the heroes of the show, are avid HAMs. They are part of their school’s A.V. club and often seen using the “Heathkit ham shack” on several occasions with their CB radios to stay in contact over the course of some terrifying situations. What started out as a fun hobby quickly escalates into a vital skill imperative to their survival. Throughout the series, they demonstrate and reference a variety of uses for amateur radios including covert communication after their phone lines are tapped.
Photo credit: ‘StrangerThings’ thread
While we all know that HAM radio is still heavily used today around the world with over two million licensed HAMs, this compelling show may be helping boost interest in HAM and radio communications. Not only does the show illustrate radio’s indispensable uses, it also shows how much fun it can be to talk with people from around the world.
Due to the recent natural disasters around the nation, many have re-discovered the benefits of having a familiarity with HAM radio operations. When landline and cell phone access is interrupted, HAM radios can be the only lifeline to the outside world, including law enforcement. Designated radio frequencies provide weather and emergency information that can be lifesaving.
Between natural disasters, trending pop-culture references like ‘Stranger Things,’ and technological advances that have made radios easier to use, amateur radio sales are on the rise. People are looking to invest in their own amateur radio kits and learn how to build and repair radios themselves. There’s a clear, upward trend in Google searches for “ham radio stores near me” in the past 5 years and the interest is only growing.
Not only is it incredibly inexpensive to buy or build your own HAM radio, obtaining a licensed isn’t as hard as it once was. For starters, you no longer need to know Morse Code to get your license. Although it’s certainly still advantageous to learn, this was definitely a barrier for many people.
For most people, getting a license only takes a day or two. Moreover, there are free radio classes across the country. Most radio classes cover about six hours of material in a day, but some are stretched out over a few days or a week. You can look up classes near you through ARRL.
An additional benefit helping amateur radio resurgence has been the availability of quality programming software. It’s easier than ever to program your radios using our RT Systems Interface, which means you no longer need to program your radio manually using its buttons and knobs – hoping that you’re doing it right. We carry a variety of software programs available for virtually every type of radio. RT Systems Programs are digital, run independently from each other, and can run side by side with each other. Rather than guessing if you’re on the right frequency, you can see what you’re programming on your computer screen.
It doesn’t get any easier! However, in case you’re new to radios, our support team is available 6 days a week to help you find the right software program for your radio and walk you through the setup. If English is your second language, we offer our programs in seven different languages.