Two weeks ago, in this column, a statement was made that the ranks of amateur (ham) radio operators were shrinking. As it turns out, the number of licensed amateur radio operators is growing in the United States, as in membership in the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). The comments on shrinking numbers were based on a misleading report from an industry company newsletter. In fact, the number of ham operators is growing and the membership in the ARRL is strong, as pointed out by a multitude of responses from spirited ham operators. My thanks and appreciation to all those who wrote back and helped to correct erroneous reporting at this end.
Further details on the growth numbers can be found in the Editorial for the October issue of Microwaves & RF, which indicate growth from 2008 to 2009 and from 2009 to 2010. Regarding the number of e-mails that came as a result of that "shrinking" report, it points out that the amateur radio community is not only growing, but a vibrant group, unwilling to sit back passively when misrepresented in the press. It is a group that understands fundamental RF communications and appreciates the elegance of making a direct connection with another operator. It is also a group that may prove vital to this nation's security one day as an emergency communications network, should a severe national crisis occur.