To Whom It May Concern.

      14 Comments on To Whom It May Concern.

A curious trend.

Just over two weeks ago, traffic to Off Grid Ham exploded. By January 15, OGH racked up more page views and unique visitors than it usually gets in an entire month. At this writing the website has surpassed its previous monthly traffic record by many thousands of views/visitors, and January still has a week of life.  fcc warning to ham radio

At first I didn’t know what to make of it. Usually I see a bump in traffic whenever a new article is released or when an influential website re-blogs one of my articles. But at the time things took off, I had not yet posted a new January article and nearly all the traffic was coming from search engines, not from a bigger, more popular website.

The search terms used to find Off Grid Ham were very telling. They were disproportionately in the theme of “how to do off grid radio” and “ham radio for beginners”. The additional site visitors were almost exclusively from the United States searching the kind of terms someone new to ham radio might use, or maybe established hams looking to go off grid. It was a curious trend. Somehow, a lot of people were suddenly interested in ham radio. fcc warning to ham radio

The light bulb goes on. fcc warning to ham radio

On January 17, the FCC released an unusual advisory reminding the citizenry that it is illegal to use amateur or CB radio to plot or facilitate crimes, or to evade law enforcement. Almost immediately the statement made a huge buzz on the ham bands and radio-related social media pages. Even the ARRL took notice.

That’s when the light bulb in my head went on. The remarkable bump in traffic started immediately after the election-related riots in Washington DC In early January. Ten days later the FCC issued its warning. It all made sense now. fcc warning to ham radio

The glass is half full? fcc warning to ham radio

bcc warning to ham radio

PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO

I’m a optimist, perhaps naively so. My friends and family will tell you that I put a positive spin on everything, sometimes to the point of looking foolish. I want to believe the jarring increase in traffic to this blog is from law abiding, patriotic Americans who have finally taken the hint and want telecommunications independence without infrastructure, the internet, or interference from the glaring & blatant bias “Big Tech” has against conservatives. The conservatives are not delusional. Big Tech really is out to get them!

But there is also a big part of me who thinks at least some of these new visitors are looking to use amateur radio for illicit purposes and are using my website to figure out how to do it. I may be naive, but I’m not stupid.

Ultimately, the FCC’s advisory is a paper tiger. Criminals are going to do as they please anyway; they’re not scared off by press releases. Who does the FCC think they’re kidding? It’s common knowledge that the FCC has almost zero interest in enforcing any rules relating to the ham bands. Yet there they are, issuing empty warnings that will be taken seriously only by people who were never a threat in the first place. If this pretzel logic sounds a lot like the ridiculous gun bans, you’re absolutely thinking in the correct lane.

How should the amateur radio community react?

Responsible amateurs are in a difficult position because they generally want to be welcoming and helpful but cannot necessarily foretell another person’s intentions. What we can do is be circumspect, ask questions, and make a more than average effort to figure out why someone is asking for help. If you hear talk of violence on air, notify law enforcement and the FCC. For its entire history amateur radio has been a self-policing avocation, and that system has worked very well. We don’t have to do much more than what we’ve already been doing for over 100 years. We are the stewards of the bands and the keepers of the integrity of the hobby; it’s on us to do everything we can to ensure it’s all on the up and up.

I have no control over who reads this website, nor can I divine what their motivations are. I can unequivocally state I will not knowingly assist, on any level, anyone seeking to provoke or participate in violence.

If you are here to learn about ham radio for benevolent reasons, I warmly welcome you and will cheerfully crank out as many articles as needed to set you on the right path. If you are here to research how to use ham radio for malicious purposes, I ask that you leave immediately and never come back. I don’t need or want your clicks. fcc warning to ham radio

14 thoughts on “To Whom It May Concern.

    1. Chris Warren Post author

      Hi Max, thanks for your kind support.

      I will point out that if asking for basic decency and respect for the rules makes one “courageous,” then we’ve reached a low even my admitted naive optimism cannot resolve.

      Reply
  1. JRHill

    I don’t do short wave other than a receiver. And my backhoe took my long wire out a few years ago and I haven’t replaced it as reception was really bad anyway. But I love the technical discussion. I like radios and have several on various freqs for certain purposes. But mainly I am off grid and have been for many years. So I appreciate your perspectives and experiences.

    These are strange times. But I hope you will be as adventurous as before with your posts. So here’s a passing thought regarding your growing popularity: maybe its time to fire up a Go Fund Me page? (wink)

    Reply
    1. Chris Warren Post author

      Thanks so much for your support! Off Grid Ham got to where it is because of readers like you, and thousands of others, who have a genuine desire to learn. I carefully craft every post to be relatable and give true understanding of the topic and not just a step-by-step recipe. The mix between practical how-to articles and philosophical/motivational/inspirational articles seems to be finding its mark.

      As for a Go-Fund Me page, the cost of running this website (hosting, enhanced security, cloud backup, WordPress) is several hundred dollars a year. So Far I’ve been able to absorb the expenses myself. The day may come when I have to pass the hat around, but for now I can handle it.

      Reply
  2. Randall Krippner

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. The sudden uptick in viewers could be just a fluke, or some source you don’t know about could be spreading info about your site. In any case, you don’t have any control over who comes here or what they do with the information. It could be just simple curiosity. In times of stress and crisis people are naturally going to be more interested in alternative power systems because of the fear of disruptions of the regular power grid.

    Reply
    1. Chris Warren Post author

      I’m not too concerned, for the short term. It’s possible I finally did enough to merit a better position in search results. That would be the most favorable explanation. You are right, I can’t control who comes here or why but it sure is strange that the increase coincided with the riots in Washington. In any case, I hope people are coming here for the right reasons. Thanks ofr your encouragement and support.

      Reply
  3. Robert Stessel, K1WXY

    I don’t have the reference now, but several news feeds on the scooby-phone commented on rioters going to amateur radio for communications.

    Reply
    1. Chris Warren Post author

      With the proliferation of $30 handheld VHF/UHF radios, it’s easy to just buy one and use it without a license. Luckily, those cheap handhelds have very limited range and therefore unauthorized users are limited as to what they can do with them or interfere with legitimate ham activity. We’ll see how this shakes out going forward.

      Reply
      1. Randall Krippner

        I didn’t think this was something we needed to really worry about but I seem to have failed to keep up with what’s going on out there. I did some digging around yesterday and you have valid concerns about unlicensed users. With the big social media sites shutting down accounts some people have been looking for alternative communications and it seems amateur radio is one alternative they’ve been looking into. I’ve seen some stuff floating around out there that is troublesome. Whether or not this will turn into a serious problem with unlicensed users, I have no idea.

        Reply
  4. Brent

    Let’s drill down on this…. you may be a conservative and have absolutely zero intention of anything nefarious and still be sidelined from the conversation by big tech and want a means of commuting information. People being deplatformed, banned on youtube, their shopping cart functions useless because they have conservatives views or offer a product the progressive left deems undesirable. The obvious help such organization that have had a hay day burning cities and looting while our government says lock your self in your house listen to the experts on the news and dont come out until we tell you. People are looking for the real news and hams talk. Its not so much people looking for clandestine planning gear so much as wanting to find out whats really going on in their community. I know in my case it is. Ive been a ham for a handful of years now. And I picked up my interest more as this unfolded.

    When a youtube channel posts a video of the dangers of a 5G of all things and gets told they cannot post a video for a week and gets a community strike… what wont they censor? I think people are networking more thru radio simply because there is little straight news reporting anywhere. And people want to know whats really going on outside there digital concentration camp

    Reply
    1. Chris Warren Post author

      Hi Brent. Your comment covers a lot of ground. My original article drew a line between increased traffic to Off Grid Ham, the riots back in January, and, more loosely, the censorship of conservatives. I have no conclusive proof that any of these things are related, but it sure is a strange coincidence.

      Ham radio is a form of “social media” not much unlike Facebook, Twitter, etc., except that in radio, it’s almost impossible to censor anyone or control what others say. This is both a benefit and a detriment. Let’s just hope those who are making the jump to amateur radio are doing it for the right reasons.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *