By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
On an amateur radio mailing list that I subscribe to, one fellow wrote, “I weep for the state of amateur radio in the US, since this dispatch is apparently necessary…” He then pointed to an article on the ARRL website that reminded hams that while their local time may be switching to daylight time, Universal Coordinated Time did not change.
The implication, of course, was that we have dumbed down ham radio so much that a reminder like this was necessary.
This thread went on and on, eventually garnering 17 different replies. Before it morphed into a discussion of whether or not DST is a good idea in the first place, the replies echoed the sentiment in the original e-mail:
“It’s become a push button, nanny state world, what do you expect, competence?”
“We are truly in a time of appliance operating, not only in ham radio, but in practically every aspect of our lives. :-(“
At first, I had the same reaction. I thought to myself, “How dumb are we getting in ham radio, if guys have to be reminded that UTC doesn’t change when we switch to daylight savings time?” After thinking about this for a while, though, I’ve completely change my mind on this.
I work with a lot of newcomers to amateur radio, and many of them just don’t know how UTC works. This is not their fault—-they just haven’t had the opportunity to deal with UTC. What these old timers (old farts?) didn’t realize is that the ARRL article is not directed at them, but at the newcomers to ham radio.
I’ll even go one step further. It’s easy for us old-timers to be dismissive of newcomers’ lack of knowledge, and then complain that amateur radio is getting dumber, but knee-jerk reactions don’t usually help anyone involved. A much better approach would be to roll up your sleeves and teach them something. The only way newcomers are going to get to be old timers like us is if we help them learn stuff like this.
When not teaching newbies about UTC, you’ll find KB6NU working on updates to his “No Nonsense” study guides, teaching one-day Tech classes, or blogging about amateur radio at www.kb6nu.com.