Amateur Radio, better known as "ham radio," is many things to many people - more than 700,000 of them in the U.S. alone. Ham radio hobbyists have at their fingertips the ability to directly contact fascinating people they may never meet who live in distant places they'll never visit. they do this without any external infrastructure, such as a cell network or the Internet, sometimes using simple, inexpensive - often homemade - equipment and antennas. Since the early days of wireless, these experimenters, who had to learn by trial and error, because little information was available at the time, developed and refined the means to contact one another without wires. They do this because it's fun and offers a sense of accomplishment. -- "I made this happen!" -- that you can't get on a smartphone.
As a radio amateur, you can meet new friends, win awards, exchange "QSLs" (the ham's calling card), challenge yourself and others in on-the-air competitions("radiosport"), educate yourself about radio science and technology, contribute to your community, travel, promote international goodwill, and continue the century-old wireless communication tradition. Your station is yours and yours alone, and it's independent of any other communication network - no contract, no bill to pay each month.
- reprinted by permission from The ARRL HANDBOOK for Radio Communications