Is Your Ham Radio Club a General Purpose or Specialty Club by Scot, K9JY?
Ham radio clubs are often thought of as the bedrock of amateur radio. As one who has both criticized ham radio clubs as well as made suggestions for helping improve them, I want to take some time to talk through what makes a great ham radio club.
The very first decision that needs making when forming a club is this one: do you want your club to be a general purpose club or a specialty club?
General purpose radio clubs are those clubs that want ham radio operators from the many different subsections of the overall hobby. You want to attract DX’ers, contesters, VHF enthusiasts, rag chewers, digital enthusiasts, builders, CW operators, SSTV types and people who love to work satellites and bounce signals off the Moon. QRP and QRO. Public service and emergency communications.
Specialty clubs, on the other hand, want to focus on one specific area of the hobby. The DX club. The contesting club. The repeater club. The digital club.
The very first thing you need to do is decide what type of club you want to be. These different types of clubs are managed differently, promote themselves differently and approach club membership differently.
If you are not in a large enough area to support specialty clubs, you may by default need to be a general purpose radio club so that ten people can get together as a club. That’s just fine, but you need to then manage the club as a general purpose club and not a specialty club that happens to have three other people in it.
And for established clubs, you need to periodically take a hard look at what type of club you actually are and not what your mission statement says you are. Is your entire club now consisting of DX’ers and Contesting? Maybe you should split in two – or focus on getting other hams with more diverse interests involved in your club.
Your club can be a general purpose club or a specialty club, but not both.
Radio Club Program Ideas
• Have a guest speaker. Topics can include ARES, Skywarn, antennas, radio history etc.
• Show a video.
• Show a Power Point.
• Have an auction. Club members can bring items, with a portion of proceeds going to the club.
• Go on a field trip. Visit local radio or TV stations, electronics firms or police communications center.
• Radio trivia game. Ask questions relating to radio, with prizes for most correct answers.
• Show and Tell. Members bring items and describe them.
• Homebrew night. Members bring a radio construction project and describe it.
• QSL night. Cards are shown and stories told relating to the contacts.
• Technology updates. Details of new modes (digital, APRS) and circuits.
• Equipment reviews. Owners of new ham equipment describe and evaluate it.