This post will undoubtedly frost some folks and get their undies tied in a knot; but so be it ..... my blog, my opinion. I don't expect your opinions to match mine.
I will take HF communications any day of the week, over VHF or UHF repeater stuff. Two instances that occurred today have only reinforced that opinion. One involved me, the other did not.
First off, the really nice thing about HF, is that I can get on a frequency, call CQ, and more than likely some Ham who I don't know from Adam will respond to me; and we'll end up having a conversation. It might be a brief exchange of reports; or it may end up in a wonderful ragchew. But the basic fact remains ..... I call CQ and more likely than not I am going to get an answer and get some involvement. When that involvement ends up being with someone you know and have previously QSO'ed with - so much the better. When that ragchew with someone you don't know kicks off a new friendship - that is the ultimate.
Today while driving home, I put out my call on my "home" 2 Meter repeater and had a nice conversation with Dave WA2QIK. We haven't spoken in years and it was really nice catching up. As luck would have it, Dave got home quickly; and I still had over half of my commute remaining after Dave bid me his 73 and cleared the frequency. So I gave out a "W2LJ mobile, listening" call and got no takers. Fair enough - people are busy. I listened for a bit more and then switched over to another local repeater.
Now this is a repeater that I have seriously been considering joining. It is normally very busy; and I have been spending a lot of time on it lately. In fact, I had been thinking that it would be a nice organization to belong to. So I put out my standard, "W2LJ mobile listening" and again, got no takers. But not more than 30 to 45 seconds later, another Ham did the same thing I had done and got an answer from someone immediately as soon as he unkeyed his microphone. And the person who answered him mentioned that he had been "monitoring the repeater for some time". From the conversation that ensued, it was apparent that they were long time friends and they enjoyed their talk together.
Second incident - same repeater. Later in the evening, I was going to the store and turned on the radio in the car. A bunch of Hams who are buddies were conversing in a roundtable. A Ham that I know, who is a relative newbie, threw in his call. He was ignored. I felt bad for him; but since I wasn't involved in the conversation, there wasn't really much I could do. He was eventually recognized; but common sense dictated that he should have been included earlier.
My point is, that I can only imagine that incidents like these are not that uncommon. When you've been a Ham for over 30 years, they are no big deal. But I suppose they are a very big deal to a newbie Technician who is trying to break in and feel like a true member of the Ham community. Being ignored is not a good thing. Ignoring newcomers is a very bad thing.
This is why I feel that it was a tremendous mistake when the FCC did away with the Novice license. No repeater privileges and "subbands" that were a meeting ground for other newbies was a great thing. We learned by each others mistakes and we all dried the wetness behind our ears together. We matured a lot and were ready to "join the ranks" when we earned our General tickets.
Like it or not, VHF and UHF repeaters can be very "cliquey" for lack of a better term. There are a ton of Elmering Hams out there who will take the time to make newbies feel welcome. But there are also a ton of Hams out there who won't even bother to make an old grizzled veteran feel welcome. For the veteran, it's no big deal; and is just a part of life - for the newbie, it might just be the reason for selling the gear and going back on the Internet. Dashed expectations are a horrible thing.
If you hear a "novice" to radio (on ANY Amateur frequency between DC and light); and you can probably tell by the callsign, please go out of your way to make them feel welcome. The hobby you save may be your own.
72 de Larry W2LJ