Ragchewing is a great part of the amateur radio hobby which seems at times to be fading away. With so many contests and special event stations and pileups for DX stations, it is easy to get in the “quick in, quick out” mode without really enjoying a vital part of the hobby. I was fortunate to have two extended conversations today (the only two contacts I made), one for an just under an hour and the other for about 20 minutes.
The longer of the two was with a ham in Vermont, and we talked about everything from radios and antennas to traveling overseas to purposefully buying a home with land so as to make the radio hobby as good as it can be. We also talked about our love of dogs, his wife’s refusal to drive, and our love of shortwave radio. We had commonalities and distinct differences, but it all made for interesting conversation, and I walked away feeling like I had made a good connection with a fellow radio enthusiast.
My second contact of the day was with an older gentleman who had just gotten his license back in December, and had just put up a 40-meter dipole today. He has always had an interest in amateur radio, and indeed was a novice operator some 50 years ago(!), but now was ready to enjoy the hobby full blast. He already sounded like an old pro and he had a good signal from Florida. After hearing him talking with another ham I called him at the end of his previous conversation and complimented him on his operating and let him know his signal was sounding good here. This led to an extended conversation, and again it was nice to make a connection with someone. A quick “callsign, signal report and location” QSO does not a connection make! Don’t get me wrong — those type of contacts have their proper place, but what I really enjoy about the hobby is getting to know people a bit and sharing our love of radio.
If you are an amateur operator, make sure you spend some time just talking with people now and again, and if you are a SWL take some time to listen to conversations, even if you cannot jump in. I have learned a fair amount of tips from just listening to others, and I have also broadened my world perspective by listening to people from around the globe. Perhaps another way to say this is, remember to take time to savor radio like a good cup of coffee or a nice gourmet dinner. There are plenty of times we just have to “grab a slice and go,” but sometimes nothing beats sitting down and lingering over each dish! 73, Robert