[CQ-Contest] Re: Demographics

Bob Schwerdlin bschwerdlin at hlb.com
Thu Nov 6 13:17:30 EST 1997

I've been licensed since 1976, when I had just graduated from grade school
at age 14.

I got my first real taste of contesting that summer, at my local radio
club's field day.  The FD site was only about 2 miles from my home and my
bike was the mode of transportation used.  I did'nt even have my Novice
ticket yet, but was already working 80M CW in the summer afternoon.  In
fact, I made my first QSO ever at that FD.  80M in the summer afternoon is
no fun for anyone, but I did'nt know the difference and was as happy as a
pig in slop.  I was on top of the world.

I have participated in FD every year since, without missing a beat.  I
still even haul all the junk... er, I mean stuff out each time.  I love it,
as I'm sure MANY contesters still do / did.

This brings me to the point about the declining amount of contesters
around.  I recently moved into my first house and ordered cable TV.  When
the cable installer came in, he saw my shack, or what was set up at the
time and asked, "Are you a ham?"  I said yes and his 20 minute install job
took about 1-1/2 hours.  You see, he lives in a trailer home park and can't
put up any antennas, other that a small vertical for VHF/UHF, which is
where he spends ALL of his time.

I told him that my main interests were contesting and DX'ing.  He said that
he had never been exposed to either and that the antenna set up that I had
drawn up on a piece of paper was crazy.  I was trying to put too many
antennas in a city lot size piece of property.  I told him that they all
had a different purpose and there was order, out of what seemed to him like

Well, since our first meeting several months ago, he has come by from time
to time and was even over when I had the concrete ready-mix truck arrive to
pour for the main tower base.  He came by again when I was installing the
main tower and even came by when I was getting the rotor plate and mid and
top plates ready for install.

The last time he came by, he said that I "kinda' inspired him".  He said
that he ordered an IC-706, which he wants to set up in his work truck and
put an antenna on the bumper.  He even said that he now has a remote
interest in contesting, saying that HF and VHF are two different worlds.  I
aggree.  But at least he is now interested.  He saw my radio hooked up to
the computer and saw how it all interfaces and how it works and even said
he would like to come by and sit in on one of my contesting sessions.

I WIN !!! ... We all win !!!

Hopefully he will "catch the bug" and really get into it.  He can't put up
the station, but there are always stations to operate from, if you look

The problem, as I see it is, the "shack on a belt" mentalaty and the notion
that you must have a big station to get in on the action and most of all,
Willingness of more experienced contesters and DX'ers to share with
newcomers.  Just turn on the 2M rig at night and you hear would-be
contesters, just getting started out.  Get on and offer advice, offer them
to come over and see how it all works at your place.  Get involved.  BE NICE.

Well, that's about it from here.  Hopefully, this weekend when I put my 2
ele 40M beam up and my good ol' TH6, my cable guy will come by and get a
fire burning.  Maybe even come over for SS SSB.

73 and best DX'ing and contesting.

... Bob, WG9L, V31RC, FP/WB9VLV

At 06:35 PM 11/4/97 -0800, you wrote:
>> If you assume the average age of license is 15, contesting will 
>> slowly die due to lack of participation, starting in about 20 years. 
>> It's really amazing how few of the total were licensed since 1980...
>> --
>> Barry Kutner, W2UP              Internet: w2up at itw.com
>Well, not exactly...there are a goodly number of the people that are still
>to get interested in contesting that don't show up in the histogram.  They
>will make the late-80's/90's 'tail' grow in size by a sizable factor over
>the next cycle's worth of good propagation.
>Has anyone ever done a comparative study of check distribution in the
>50's, 60's, 70's, 80's?  It would be real interesting to see how the
>demographics change over time. (Maybe after contest season...whenever that
>73, Ward N0AX
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