delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 36 NUMBER 8

Ham Radio News

...because we don’t live in a vacuum.

Hara Arena up for IRS Tax Auction

In perhaps the last throes of its ignoble death, the once-great Hara Arena has been turned over for an IRS tax auction.  For years the home of Dayton Hamvention, most prestigious gathering of 20,000 of our closest friends, the threadbare doors squeeked shut last year for the final time. As Hamvention moved to its new Green County home, the matron sat amidst her overgrown parking lots in disuse. Now, the final embarassment: the IRS is auctioning off the property. If you would like to jump into the world of ham super-fests, or maybe a club retreat, or even a great Field Day site, feel free: bidding starts at only $850,000.  Of course that doesn’t take into consideration the million or more smackers you’ll have to pony up to get rid of the “poop fountains” and other crumbling aspects of the place. But sure, go for it! Don’t say we didn’t tell you!

The 2016 ARRL Annual Report is now online.

Everyone, not only ARRL members should read it. This is, after all, the only national organization that really speaks for amateur radio. Understandably, the report concentrates on the ARRL’s achievements. One of the things that the ARRL pats itself on the back for (and rightly so) is the National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) operating event. The report devotes six of the report’s 68 pages, or a little less than 10% of the report to NPOTA. It also spends a great deal of space on emergency communications (emcomm) and public service activities. One thing that I didn’t like is that they talk about both emcomm and public service activities  in the same breath. It probably would have been better if they’d separated these. Both are vital, but separate, functions. One thing that I did agree with is counting the ARRL’s support the Teacher’s Institute as a public service activity. Support for STEM education is one area in which the ARRL could really shine. Membership is down One thing that I was very disappointed in was the Membership section of the report. Basically, the ARRL used this section to apologize for the dues increase. This section was a scant four paragraphs and did not mention membership numbers. The report spent more time talking about its new podcast and the N1BCG special operating event, both much less important than membership. You have to dig way down in the financial summary to find any mention of membership numbers: ARRL membership declined in 2016, although this was expected because of the dues increase, and followed the historical pattern seen after previous dues increases. Total membership at the end of the year stood at 164,070, which was a decrease of 3.8% from the end of 2015. Despite this drop in membership, dues revenues increased by 6.4% to almost $6.4 million, however, the full impact of the increase won’t be seen until 2017 and beyond. What this means of course is that the number of licensed radio amateurs who are ARRL members continues to decrease. Am I the only one who thinks this is a serious problem? Why isn’t anyone at the ARRL addressing this issue? I’ll reiterate my challenge to the ARRL that they make it a goal to have 25% of licensed radio amateurs also be ARRL members. I don’t think that’s asking too much. I also think that without a goal like that, membership will continue to slip as will the ARRL’s relevance. Message from the president On a related topic, ARRL president, Rick Roderick, K5UR, in his message, tells the story of how his stump speech to a group of high school students about ham radio fell on deaf ears. He writes, “I realized that I had to change my approach to the presentation if I was going to keep the attention of these young people.” A couple of paragraphs later, he says, Many hams are traditionalists. I count myself among them. Change generally doesn’t come easy to us. But when I looked out at that group of young faces and saw their disinterest in traditional ham pursuits, I realized that I had to change. We have to change. It won’t come easy, but it’s essential that we get to work on it now. It’s not just kids that aren’t interested in traditional amateur radio pursuits. There are lots of licensed radio amateurs out there who the ARRL is not serving. That’s why the membership numbers are so low. Join, not give Finally, I’ll note that seven pages, or slightly more than 10% of the report was devoted to how to give money to the ARRL and listing those who did. While I think that these generous donors should be recognized, and that the various ARRL programs they donated to are important, more emphasis should be placed on getting members to join rather than to give. Too much emphasis on giving drives away members, not attract them. If you do the right things to attract members, the giving part will take care of itself. The members will be engaged and supportive of the ARRL’s programs and will give generously without any arm twisting or pats on the back. -Dan romanchik, KB6NU
© DELARA News, the official monthly newsletter of the Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware, OH