I’ve always been intrigued by ham radios over the years. I’ve never used one and never know anyone who had one, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing them in movies and TV shows for years. Notable appearances that I can remember include seeing ham radios in Alf, Contact, Phenomenon, I Am Legend and, more recently, Stranger Things.

At present, there are more than 750,000 licensed ham radio operators (hams) in the USA – an increase of nearly 200,000 since the early 90s. Ham radio (also known as amateur radio) has always been seen somewhat as a geeky hobby and became especially popular between 1970 and 2000. Although ham radio has lost some of its hi-tech appeal thanks to the huge amount of smart gadgets entering the markets, it remains an enjoyable and valuable hobby for hundreds of thousands of radio enthusiasts across the world. If you don’t believe that Ham radio is a great hobby, the following three reasons to take up amateur radio might get you more interested.

You could become a local superhero
Ham radios are super-fast and effective when it comes to relaying emergency information to a group of people. While TV news and commercial radio stations have become a lot faster at reporting breaking news than they were in the 80s and 90s, they are still slow when it comes to the reporting of community occurrences. Social media has made it somewhat easier to stay abreast of what is happening in the outside world but is, unfortunately, riddled with misinformation. This is precisely why Ham radio enthusiasts say it is as useful today as it was 50 years ago. If you have a Ham Radio you will be able to catch the latest news directly from people who live near to the action. You will also be able to become a real-life superhero by informing your community of any newsworthy incidents such as car accidents, extreme weather situations, and crime.

It’s a fun skill to have
Once you decide to get involved in amateur radio you can look forward to learning a host of very geeky yet exciting skills. Due to the fact that you can’t legally become an amateur radio operator in the USA unless you are certified and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. In order to achieve this you will have to brush up your math and physics knowledge as well as delve into the field of electronics a bit. One of the greatest appeals of Ham radio back in the 70s and 80s were the building of kits if you desired a particular type of receiver, transmitter, or transceiver. Although each kit came with its own set of assembly instructions (and still does) it does help if you know your way around a printed circuit board (PCB). Even if you have never held a soldering iron before in your life you may become almost a pro at it after you have been at it for some time. It is also one of those skills that may come in handy later in life as well.

The Ham radio community is awesome
The 80s and 90s brought us a lovely variety of TV shows such as Saved by the Bell, Friends, and Seinfeld that revolved around the friendships of oddballs that shared some mutual interests. Ham radio has always been a very social hobby which is great news for anyone wanting to meet up with like-minded folk. The Ham community has always been a very inviting one that makes any newbies feel right at home. Whereas Hams have always been fond of attending group meet-ups and other social events they can now also meet up via social media.

There is no denying that Ham radio is a superb hobby to learn. Apart from being educational and useful in times of need, you will also have immense fun engaging with fellow hams from across the globe.

Oh, and the final reason to give Ham radios a go is because it will make you feel like a trucker, like Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China. That should be enough reason for anyone.