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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, January 23, 2003
11:18 PM

So there's a magazine called CQ Amateur Radio, covering ham-radio. I've been thinking about getting a ham-radio license in the spirit of Glenn Reynold's pack-not-a-herd philosophy. Folks, I don't know if I will, but there's more radio frequencies flying around out there than you'll ever know, and it includes amateur TV scanning (picking up all kinds of video signals from highway cameras to media feeds to almost anything you can think of); military, police and fire & rescue communications, repeaters that distribute weak hand-held radio signals around the globe, internet ham, amateur satellites (so they say!)... in other words, geek heaven. That's good; I'm not quite socially isolated enough.

Though the publication has a website at, the articles don't seem to be online. A column in the February issue by Rich Moseson finds some bad info in.....The Washington Post! Life is good.

The Washington Post ran an article about ham radio in mid-December titled "Ham Radio Buffs Find a New Calling." The focus was on the renewed emphasis since September 11 on public service and emergency communicatons as recruiting tools for new hams....

[Post reporter Abhi] Raghunathan continues, "Much of the talk these days among enthusiasts of two-way amateur radio, who call themselves hams, concerns their diminishing ranks." Later, after describing ham radio's response to 9/11 and the ARRL's federal grant for additional training in emergency communications, the reporter adds, "But that hasn't kept ham radio from slowly fading. The [ARRL] league, a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut, says its membership has fallen from 175,000 in 1997 to 157,000 today."

There's just one problem here--a big problem. Our ranks are not diminishing...In fact, at the end of November, 2002, there were more licensed hams on the FCC's books than at any time in the past five years, and quite possibly, the most ever. (And don't blame the reporter, who was no doubt the recipient of incorrect information.)

No doubt. The column goes into a discussion of various FCC databases that I will spare you. Licensed hams- have been growing very slowly for many years, but evidently growing.

On a separate note, it's kind of amazing that so many law enforcement frequencies can be monitored.

Oh, and ARRL is the American Radio Relay League, "the national association for amateur radio."

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