How to handle a nasty HAM radio operator

We've all run across them, the sarcastic voice with a kilowatt behind it who spews negativity. They often hang together on a specific frequency and aren't above attacking a newbie who isn't operating exactly as they would like. What are some effective strategies for dealing with mean people on the air?

Riley Hollingsworth

Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH spent 10 years as the lead enforcement agent for Amateur Radio at the FCC before he retired in 2008. He was effective, personable, and as you'll see in this talk at the Dayton Hamvention® in 2007... FUNNY. This is really a stand-up comedy routine. I've titled it 'One Big Knob."

Of course, he's making a point. One that we all know already, but clearly need to be reminded of from time to time. I talked with Riley later that day, and he asked if this departure from the standard "Enforcement Update" was the right thing to do. Well, see for yourself.

Canadian 🇨🇦 Amateur Radio Discussion ::


  1. Anonymous20:47

    Change frequency.

  2. Anonymous20:59

    Yep, don't engage them, don't encourage them. It's not going to make them stop, but don't participate in their behavior. I've even spun the knob on someone who went off the rails during a QSY. Went from what radio and antenna we had to him going on a tirade about the president, going on to compare him to Hitler and frosting the cake by calling him a n*...

    I didn't even respond, not even my callsign after that. I did sit on frequency for a while curious what he'd say after that, but he went on to talk to someone else for a while and continued to rant about random stuff. People are crazy.

  3. Anonymous20:59

    If it's really bad you can report him to your friendly neighborhood amateur observer.

    Don't think for a second that YOU are going to be the one to finally convince him of the error of his ways. Those guys are pathological assholes.

    Don't even consider jamming him. Counterproductive and illegal.

    If on the other hand it's contest weekend and the band is crowded and you JUST happen to park a kHz away from him and run a good rate there, well, nobody owns a frequency.

    1. Anonymous05:42

      All true, great advise, I believe enjoy the hobby ... And let hatred implode into itself

  4. Anonymous21:00

    I guess I'm a little bit of an anarchist, but I'm not a fan of crying to the OO about another ham. In the Tampa area we had a legendary jammer problem that revolved around this ham nicknamed "Crummy". All of this started back in the mid to early 90's. As far as I know, to this day, "Crummy" still has his license and the jammers still jam him. This is despite hours of tapes I've sent in of him swearing, threatening other hams, and talking to jammers. Oh yeah, and the jammers are alleged to be other hams as well...

    These days, if I have a problem with another ham, I just change the frequency. I also avoid 2 Meter repeaters... the people on the CB generally have more technical savvy and aren't as rude...

  5. Anonymous21:01

    Ham radio prides itself on self-policing, and so if you can't help but try to do something about it please please please don't engage on the air. I am so sick of hearing people whining at each other. You can contact an Official Observer through your local ARRL Section Manager if you want to farm out the confrontation, or email the offender directly off the air if it seems like he honestly doesn't know he's being a dick. And hey, give those newbies a call on the air before he scares them off and chat with them all friendly like about something else.

  6. Anonymous21:23

    Great comments, I had a lot of disappointment and sadden by the hobby. My enjoyment was lessen by a few bitter hams with hatred. I overlook how great this hobby is and what it is about. I took some time for myself and my family.