New Drug Aims To Get More Hams On The Air
By K5KAC, on the scene
LA JOLLA, Calif. — According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, only four out of ten newly licensed amateur radio operators ever get on the air. Rounds of follow-up questioning cited “mic shyness” as the biggest obstacle for the new hams. Mic shyness is summarized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as “an impending sense of doom or dread upon placing one’s index finger of their dominant hand on the PTT function of a transmitter.”
The issue is so prevalent in the ham radio community that pharmaceutical developer Pfizer is planning an early release of a confidence boosting drug compound. The drug, Transmitica™, should hit pharmacy shelves this fall. “We wanted to hold off for a good solar cycle before releasing the life-changing compound, but it is clear that the Ham community needs this,” said Reginald Armstrong, Ph.D., lead research scientist on the Transmitica™ project.
The drug is said to enhance the sufferer’s ability to verbalize every aspect of their emotional state while maintaining focus on the other party’s ramblings. Early findings showed an increased amount of activity in Broca’s Area, the portion of the human brain that is responsible for speech production. There also appeared to be some suppression of the functions of the frontal lobes, the region responsible for complex long-term decision making and social restraint, but effects are inconclusive at the moment.
In a recent test, a small sample of Transmitica™ was mailed out with 100 freshly minted Technician licensees. A control group simply received their license and no drug. The 40% average persisted with the control group while the treatment group sky-rocketed to 100% on-air status.
A ham who took part in the study was easily reached to provide comment. “When I first received my ticket, I just stared at my HT sitting on the window ledge, listening to the local repeater chatter about traffic, politics and ailments. I felt alone. I opened the blister pack and took a Transmitica™. Now here I am a few weeks later with my Extra waiting on my DX Century Club Certificate.”
Dr. Armstrong believes there will be an application for older hams as well. “Over time, guys are getting on the air less and less frequently. It’s harder to get up and get on the air. They need that boost of confidence to bust that rare DX pile-up. As hams age, it’s more and more difficult to rise to the opportunities that, as young hams, they tackled with vigor.” A preliminary survey showed great interest in a formulation for older hams, tentatively called Transmitica OM™. An extended release option is also in development for contesters and should be out early June 2014.
At the moment, there are no known side effects associated with the short-term use of the drug. “It is very difficult to separate what could be side effects from the use of Transmitica™ and what could simply be the side effects of exposure to vast amounts of solder smoke and transformer oil,” noted Dr. Armstrong. “Our main goal is everyone’s main goal: Get new hams on the air.”