Do we really have an epidemic of ‘lets ignore Foundation and Intermediate licensees’ in our hobby?


A few weekends ago, several friends and I, all members of our local amateur radio society, participated in the Pubs’n’Clubs on the Air event paying out of our own pockets camping/caravanning/travelling to-from a fantastic location 35 miles from our respective QTH’s. All-in-all we had a fantastic time with the weather bing typical for May on the English/Welsh borders… hot and sunny day one, showers/thunderstorms day two, warm and sunny day three. Disappointingly there were very few stations on air during the weekend but we had an excellent, fun and radio filled time, until that is… the day after I returned home, when I received an email which not only left a bitter taste in each of our mouths, but caused me to pause, think and reflect on if there actually is an epidemic of full license stations ignoring foundation and intermediate stations in the world of amateur radio, or if indeed… this is a total myth.

Not very often do I air my dirty laundry, but I’ll make an exception here for reasons of good intent and to at least attempt productive discussion. Let me elaborate.

Over the past few years I have read of (pls note… only read of, not experienced with my own ears… but read of) one or two Foundation or Intermediate radio amateurs citing instances of being ignored on air by full license holders. I’ve read the odd post here and there from disgruntled individuals on fakebook groups or twitter/X saying they’ve been intentionally ignored. The thing is… apart from one license holder who I openly admit to ignoring because of his foul language, rude and obnoxious behaviour (I have recordings so can back up my allegations), apart from him I’ve not ignored anyone and have never actually experienced this first hand: I have never been on air and actually heard any station ignore any other station. I appreciate this would be a tad difficult to identify because as a listener we would never truly know if a station was intentionally ignoring any another station. However, I do have a grave concern here though which is… neither would the actual disgruntled station ever truly know if they were being ignored. If they had called into a pile-up they may very well not have received a reply, but this could of course be down to a multitude of entirely valid reasons – propagation / power levels / signals / receive location – all manner of things could have contributed to them not being heard and doesn’t mean they were ignored.

For these, plus many more reasons, to make an accusation that one was ignored on air is extremely unpleasant, unfriendly and pretty damning. It is also 100% counter productive to actually finding out why you may not have been heard, and how to ensure you will be heard next time. i.e: learning, gaining knowledge, developing and growing in the hobby. How could one possibly know you were ignored, how in heavens name would you know this – it’s pretty much impossible? Of course you may feel disappointed, but you may simply have been unfortunate to have not been heard by the receiving station.

If you’ve read thus far, firstly my thanks, and secondly – you may wonder what this blog post is all about. To satisfy this curiosity here’s a email sent directly to me from a disgruntled Intermediate amateur radio license holder who felt that he was intentionally ignored by our operators during the Pubs’n’Clubs on the Air event a few weekends ago.

NB: I've deliberately redacted the persons name and contact details.

Here’s the initial email received on the Monday following the event. Please note his formal and immediate somewhat stern and unfriendly tone in the greeting, and also note it has been cc’ed to the General Manager of the RSGB.

initial email

Too late in the evening for me to reply, I slept on it, and 24 hours later sent the following…

my reply

It appears he was not having any of it… as a day or so later I received the following.

his reply

No acknowledgement of what he misunderstood, no friendly cooperation in learning what might have been the reason he was not heard, and no consideration to anything other than he was ignored, or that he could have been mistaken. A very closed minded approach which is entirely counter productive to what amateur radio stands for.

I’ve no intention of replying to this latest email, I’ve no desire or need to explain or justify myself to someone so set in their ways where attempts at a detailed explanation, together with the extension of an olive branch in the form of a friendly invitation to join us on future trips, falls on deaf, unwilling to listen ears. This interaction however did make me think about such allegations and the circumstances surrounding them, which does nothing for amateur radio especially given the unnecessarily rude and unfriendly manner he conducted himself.

My reply clearly articulates my position, and does pose a question… do people really think they are being ignored, do they really think anyone would go to the effort of putting such a station on air and would subsequently ignore anyone? Or, is it a case of gross self-entitlement on the part of those disgruntled stations not heard in them thinking, ‘I called so they must have heard me and must reply, they simply must reply or they must be ignoring me’.

Before you furiously type a reply saying you are a victim of such, I am not suggesting this doesn’t or hasn’t happened, but I am convinced it isn’t as prevalent as we may be led to believe. Personally I believe very few people actually ignore stations, and even if they do it will be for valid reasons other than them being Foundation or Intermediate license holders.

He demonstrates double standards, hypocritically treating me in a manner that completely undermines the spirit of amateur radio as a friendly hobby, after accusing me of the very same. Surely a friendlier and cooperative approach would have been a win-win, and conducive to a pragmatic outcome? Such an approach would have allowed us to experiment and ascertain why we were not able to hear him, and to attempt to be heard in the future. I am keen to hear what other radio amateurs think about this, either on here or better in the post/thread that may indeed may have brought you to my blog in the first place.

If you managed to stay awake and read this far, you’re possibly quite mad, but you do have my sincere thanks.

Let’s engage.

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