Though some of my friends have often commented that I have a face MADE for radio, I often wonder if my experiences with ham radio are typical, atypical, or just bizarre.  For some background, I have been a licensed Ham for over 20 years.  I was licensed initially as a Technician and enjoyed a lot of 2 meters and 440 activity for several years.  Life intruded and I fell into inactivity until a couple of years ago.  In the interim, I had lost all my equipment and so I decided to purchase a new HT.  I spent several months trying to listen around to the local repeaters and heard virtually no traffic at all.  I gave up and put it away until a few months ago when I decided I’d try again.  Figuring that I was in a zone where reaching anything with just a tiny HT and it’s rubber ducky antenna, I invested in a couple of small, inexpensive antennas to try to get some better “reach”.  Listening carefully, I still heard a minimum of traffic and nearly gave it up again until I came across a few people who showed up on a couple of the repeaters I could reach.  I established contact and made some friends and started listening even more, trying to talk with anyone who came onto the repeaters.

Sound familiar at all?  It’s true there had been a relative dearth of people to talk to, but through all this I learned something about myself.  By not asking who was listening and not being “vocally present” on the repeater, I was participating in furthering that vacuum.  I was helping to further the very situation about which I felt so sad.

Now I assure you, I am not taking any credit for the changes, but there has been a significant change on the repeater I frequent most often.  Several people who admit to have been only listening for so long now regularly get on the air and participate.  Maybe it’s a few new voices to talk to, or maybe they’re just remembering the excitement that I still feel when I get to talk to someone over the radio.  Whatever it is, I think I’ve learned my lesson and will make a distinct effort to be on the air and “active” more often.

Remember, Amateur Radio privileges are just that, privileges.  We either use them or we will surely lose them!

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