HAM Radio 101

Being a YL in Ham Radio (a personal experience)

All right everyone, let’s talk about it. The good, the bad, and the ugly—I am a YL in ham radio.

The Good
Straight up—I adore breaking through pileups. I am a hundred watts and a wire type of gal. Yes, I occasionally use a vertical and yes, I occasionally guest operate at a location with an amplifier. It doesn’t matter, though—there are always pileups. It is a rush and a thrill when an operator says, “Just the YL please.” Thank you, thank you for giving me that advantage.

The Bad
I don’t fit in with a lot of the other YLs who just don’t seem to have the same interests. Most of the ladies I am around got their license to be with their husbands or at the same time as their husbands. A super nice thing and I am glad they have that bond.

I went to dinner once with a large group of hams, and we divided the table with the YLs on one half and the OMs on the other. Maybe we can chalk it up to me being a tomboy, or how my career and everything else in my life has been more male orientated, but I like sports and I have no interest in knitting outside of appreciating those who knit me a nice gift. I couldn’t have been more than five minutes into the meal before I turned to my right and declared myself an OM for the evening!

P.S. I have nothing against knitting and bet there are ladies who feel just like me AND like knitting. I was just using a real-life example. In the same regard, I know a lot of OMs who don’t follow sports, either!

The Ugly
Please…please…whatever you do, do NOT assume. My first time hanging out at Orlando Hamcation representing Dayton Hamvention, I was asked by another YL, “Which one of these guys do you belong with?” I was completely flabbergasted. Why would I need to “belong” with anybody to enjoy ham radio? Still to this day, when I go to local hamfests with my friend and Elmer, the number of random inferences that we are married to each other makes me cringe. I mean, why married? He could be my dad, brother, cousin…

Speaking of married, three years and a lot of events after I became a ham, my actual husband decided it looked like fun and wanted to give it a whirl. I instantly groaned, knowing that once he was involved more assumptions would be made. Finally I said, “Fine, but don’t you dare let anyone know that I’m your wife!” I finally relented on that view a few years later when our children got licensed as well, but he makes sure to let everyone know that I was in the hobby first.

Questions? Share them in the comments below or email me at KE8FMJ@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply