Elitism in Amateur Radio

I’ve been in the Amateur Radio scene for a year now, which is not that long compared to the old-timers which have had their licenses for 50 years or more. However, that is long enough to notice some of the elitism that exists even in this hobby.

One of the most blatant examples is N4NJJ’s Baofeng Policy on his repeaters (there was even a thread on Reddit about this). “… Baofengs have opened the door for low quality operators to get on the air and be heard.” he says, implying that just because someone cannot afford spending $300-400 on a proper Yaesu or Icom handheld that he/she is not worthy of speaking on his repeaters. I’ve heard plenty of “low-quality operators” on the air and many of them are using non-Baofeng equipment. Additionally, he says “This isn’t a Motorola elitism thing.” Considering that this ban was implemented by requiring an MDC-1200 tone to be sent to open up the repeater, which is a Motorola-proprietary technology that other companies must license, and is only implemented on high-end commercial radios (Motorola, Hytera, Kenwood, Icom, etc.), then yes this is a “Motorola elitism thing” as it effectively locks out all Amateur Radio equipment, including recently-manufactured high-end Icom and Yaesu Amateur Radio equipment, not just Baofengs.

DMR has some of this stigma as well as, other than the recent introduction of cheap DMR radios from manufacturers such as Tytera, the only option for DMR are commercial radios which require a significant investment to get started compared to other digital modes. It could easily cost you $600-1000 to get started on DMR with a Motorola or Hytera radio, which some people used specifically to keep “low-quality operators” off of their systems.

Amateur radio is a hobby, it’s supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to meet new people as well as experiment to increase your own knowledge. Having private repeater systems completely goes against the spirit of Amateur Radio, and while technically allowed under Part 97, should only be used to keep someone that continually breaks rules under Part 97 off of the repeater, not a blanket ban on anyone that hasn’t been specifically included, against specific radios, etc.. Anyone abusing their power in this manner should be shunned from the Amateur Radio community as they are obviously using it as a private communication method between members, which, while not banned explicitly in Part 97, goes against the very nature of what Amateur Radio is about.

1 thought on “Elitism in Amateur Radio”

Leave a Reply