Why I refuse to Re-Join the WIA!

image_1_hires**this is my personal opinion! it’s the internet, personal opinions are freely available on the internet! If you strongly disagree with my personal opinion, please send me $80 and pay for my new first years membership to show me the organisation has or is actually prepared to change ūüėÄ

The WIA is more than 100 years old, It started to help promote and advance the newly developing technology that was radio communications. Pioneers in radio worked for companies like AWA and Marconi during the day and continued to explore and experiment in their free time with this interesting technology.

Thorough the years, hams have lead technology developments and pioneered communications methods that have become commercial products and technology.

BUT

In 2013. The hobby has moved on. The old boys club, that 100+ year old WIA organisation that claims to represent the hobby and all amateurs in Australia is still stuck in the past.

Australian ham numbers (like they are world wide) are dwindling. Radio and RF was cutting edge in the ham peak of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Changes to the ham license at the edges with the foundation license are a great step in expanding a market, but the execution is flawed, and all the wile, the bigger audience of potential hams have moved on…

No longer can someone who is “electronics” curious go into main stream Dicksmith and buy a kit to solder some bleeding edge device / idea / concept at home, they are busy writing code for a raspberry pi or Arduino and exploring these products and technologies. Or have just moved on to writing apps for smart phones. The hobby electronics scene is still vibrant, with many maker faire and kick starter projects still around, but the complexity and functionality has moved up a gear. but ham radio¬†hasn’t¬†kept up with these advancements.

Solid state, SMD components and embedded device on a chip products have moved on the tinkering. Talking on 80m about the latest lawn bowls match or that hernia operation does not excite the kids of today.

There are still some interesting and challenging aspects of ham radio that people on the edges explore and develop, Digital ATV, High Altitude Balloons, the higher band microwave gear and the complexity building this gear brings, but these are not simple endeavours that will draw people in. And some activities that have seen a resurgence in activity, the Lighthouse weekend in august continues to grow and SOTA activity is driving interest in portable operation, but you need to know about this and where to look before investing in such endeavours.

The wia is the peak body representing hams with the Australian government / ACMA, they help the ACMA set regulations and represent australian hams at the ITU. Though in recent years it appears (from where I stand) that the ACMA and regulators have little regard for hams, we have a large spectrum allocation in a market that sees 20mhz of allocation in the 700mhz band sell for near $500 million. The handful of hams with a tiny license fee wont stop the market paying that much for our bands.

Some might say, stop standing on the outer, telling them how to change, yet not be prepared to join and assist the organisation with the changes that need to continue to happen. But this is not true, in the early 2000’s, I was a board member of tbe VK2WIA, after having spent a number of years assisting vk2wia with local state¬†functions¬†, the weekly broadcast and other activities they ran ¬†(when the bodies were independent under a national collective). This¬†wasn’t¬†a very¬†pleasant¬†experience¬†where a young ham interested to assist the¬†organisation¬†with a different point of view and offer his services was not welcome. after the experiences of that year, i stopped being a member of the¬†organisation¬†and have stayed away ever since, clearly not welcome.

Today, I’m on the committee at my local VK3 Ham radio club, assisting in the running of this group. I play (with my limited antenna¬†set-ups) on HF, VHF and UHF, LEO FM Satellites, APRS, digital modes such as WSPR, PSK31 and SSTV, and even¬†recently¬†SOTA and QRP hf portable¬†operation¬†as well as many other aspects of the hobby.¬†I’m¬†an active ham who is keen to¬†promote¬†and demonstrate the hobby.¬†I’ve¬†invested a lot of time and money into the hobby, a hobby i actually enjoy and hope to continue to enjoy for many years to come, given I’m at the younger end of the demographic.

So, why this rant. I don’t want my hobby to die in a nursing home, I hope the organisation can see beyond the shallow interests of those determined to live in the past and understand that the advocacy, marketing and promotion of our hobby needs to match the trends of the market, be that smart phones, digital content, social media interaction and a more targeted approach. They argue today that they only represent the member base they have, that this is their direct interest, they refuse to think laterally because they¬†don’t¬†want to upset the dwindling members for fear or developing a new audience and niche. Evolve or perish. ūüôā

You can join the WIA online for $80, you will get 12 copies of a dead tree magazine a year and a warm fuzzy feeling of the golden 1930’s.

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On this page and my YouTube page. I’ve turned on some simple ads. When the income from these ads reaches $80. I’ll use that money to buy a membership!

**this is my personal opinion! it’s the internet, personal opinions are freely available on the internet! If you strongly disagree with my personal opinion, please send me $80 and pay for my new first years membership to show me the organisation has or is actually prepared to change ūüėÄ

9 thoughts on “Why I refuse to Re-Join the WIA!

  1. I felt the same way back when doing my electronic engineering degree in the first years of the 1980’s. Working with radio people was like being in the past. I chose the exciting new world of devices like the 8 bit microprocessor.

    • I’d join in an instant if i felt they were progressive and had a vision, some of the organisation do understand and have plans for the future, but the notion of not upsetting a dying membership base for fear of different. ūüėÄ

  2. For many years I was a contributor, producer and co-host of the WIA National News, I also presented a weekly VK3 news segment for broadcast, however the politics of the WIA/ARV wore me down along with the lack of support from local clubs. I also had a stint as President of a local club but that was like running a nursing home! Suffice to say I now do my own thing, tinker with radios and tech with the odd bit of portable QRP which is enjoyable. There are some fine amateurs out there with some great skills, don’t get me wrong, and some interesting technologies, but these are not mainstream technologies that will attract others to the hobby. There are to many competing hobbies out there and AR is just one at that and a very, very small percentage of the population.

    The WIA will never be able to stem the decline in numbers. It’s absence in social media and adopting new technologies is evident. It’s hard to run any organisation, but history belongs in a book (or digital format :-)) the future is digital communications. The board need to see this and respond.

    I’m not a member of the WIA/ARV or a club and I’m on the mid pint of 40, so I could be referred to as youth!

    • thanks for taking the time to reply grant. and good to see that my observations and interactions match those of others. im not yet into my 40’s. but worry for the future ūüėÄ

  3. It’s a shame ham numbers are dwindling in Australia… However, Japan, USA, and UK (but to name a few) are seeing serious growth in numbers in the hobby. They are doing something right – and we are doing something wrong. Two main areas seem to be a) lack of engagement with the younger generation – the future members, and b) failure to keep up with media trends, like Facebook, Twitter and even an up-to-date YouTube channel!

  4. Pingback: I still refuse to rejoin the WIA!! But…. | VK3BQ

  5. I have to agree – I joined the ARRL solely for the information and the way they deliver it.
    Have been a member of the wia – but after a prolonged issue with a repeater licence being granted and the way a certain person jumped on our local technical committee was nothing short of a pissing competition.

  6. Yes, I couldn’t agree more.
    Unfortunately, amateur radio has the reputation of being an old man’s hobby.
    If promoted correctly it could be seen as a diverse hobby with something for everyone who is technically inclined.
    There are organizations such as AREG and people such as Matjaz Vidmar (S53MV) and Hans summers have made some very interesting technological contributions.
    We are losing band space because “money talks”, however, the politicians who make those decisions require something from us, our vote.
    It is up to us to let them know it is not for free.
    My reasons for leaving the WIA are many, but the major one is that people who’s actions are not in the best interests of amateur radio do not deserve representation within the WIA.
    My protests were repeatedly ignored.

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