Since opining that an impressive number of new licensees hasn’t resulted in a noticeable spike in on-air activity, I’ve received several notes from those convinced that our recent growth has been fueled by the prepper movement. The notion being that these new licensees value the benefits of two-way communication capability without interest in typical ham radio activities.
This isn’t the first time I’ve considered such a thing, but it doesn’t seem to make sense.
Why not just stockpile two-way radio equipment and use it without a license? I don’t ever recall anyone in the Thunderdome being overly concerned about government rules. Especially considering the budget cuts that have reduced FCC enforcement to two guys and a truck. Besides, the intrinsic value of ham radio during a natural disaster is its ability to contact someone who can arrange to send help from outside the area.
Robust radio communication from an area devastated by hurricane or earthquake is invaluable because that area is likely cut-off from the rest of the world. In that scenario, sending messages to those in unaffected areas to SEND HELP makes perfect sense.
But in a post-apocalyptic world where the entire system has melted down, who you gonna call?
In that case, the ability to make contact with someone far away might help mend a lonely heart, but I imagine the actual conversation might go something like this:
“Are you guys as screwed as us?”
“Yeah, we’re totally screwed”
“You got food?”
“Nope, we’re starving here too”
“Okay, talk to you tomorrow if we don’t all die tonight”
“73 and good luck”
Silly me, it just seemed unlikely that preppers would embrace amateur radio in any significant numbers. And I was comfortable believing that until a photo appeared this week of an Oregon Militia member carrying what looks like a Chinese, dual-band amateur radio transceiver… I guess I could be wrong?
— AmateurRadio.com (@amatradio) January 14, 2016