Saturday, January 24, 2009

ARRL: Still Relevant?

Dan KB6NU, earlier this month, commented on the ARRL's lackluster ability to attract new members.  Dan doesn't speculate on why the ARRL didn't even keep up with population growth and has a smaller percentage of all US hams than it did a year ago. 

I'm one of the relatively small number of hams first licensed in the past year who did join the ARRL.  I did so for a specific reason: I was tempted to join by the addition of electronic access to the QST archives as a member benefit.  Although this was fun at first, I haven't used it in a while, nor have I read the new issues of QST that come to me in the mail for a while now; they come in and landed in some stack or another and promptly disappeared.  The way things are going, I'm not really sure if I'll renew when the time comes later this year; I'm not convinced I'm getting anything out of it.

Frankly, I think it's because the ARRL is out of touch with the people who are becoming hams today.  The era of the communicator is ending, but there's still a lot of communicators in the old fogies that largely make up ARRL's leadership.  If the ARRL wants to remain relevant with today's hams, it needs to understand what their interests are today (and not merely those of hams who happen to be over 60), how they differ from what hams' interests were 30 years ago, and change their strategies to be more responsive.  Unfortunately, I don't see this happening, at least not yet. 

My renewal isn't up for several more months.  I shall have to keep a close eye on this between now and then.