I’m KE9V and I approve this message…
The election for ARRL Director’s is heating up with more interest than usual in changing whatever the League is doing completely wrong.
I may be too unconcerned given I’m a Life Member, but certain data being cited by every new prospective board member is not only wrong, it’s deceptive. I’m talking about the faulty notion that since there are now over 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the US, an all-time high, declining ARRL membership is a clear sign that the folks in Newington don’t know what they’re doing.
What’s wrong with this line of thinking is that anyone who believes there are over 750,000 active, ‘interested in radio as a hobby’ licensees in the US is nuts.
We could argue endlessly over the what constitutes “active” but it doesn’t take much gray matter to comprehend that people who get a Technician license in a day and promptly become bored with their new handheld transceiver probably won’t be inclined to pay an annual fee to become an ARRL member.
Likewise with those who only got a license to provide emergency services in their community. Same goes with the preppers. And there are bound to be many other single-use interests that require a license but not a relationship with a national organization.
And don’t get me started on the number of records in the FCC database of dead hams, or those with a license who have long since been moved to some care-giving facility removing their ability to be “active”.
Fact is, the elimination of the code requirement removed a barrier to those who have a use for a license, but no real interest in getting neck deep into amateur radio as a hobby. That’s perfectly okay with me but to assume these should also become dues paying members of the ARRL is either naive or just stupid and I’m leaning toward the latter.
Using the “record high number of licensees” to highlight the League’s inability to recruit more paying members is weak sauce. The real number of active radio amateurs is probably more like 300,000 which means the ARRL still has room to grow, but it’s certainly not the dismal failure some are making it out to be - in an effort to get elected.
As century-old hobbies go we’ve got ninety-nine problems but this ain’t one.