Today’s new Hams are told that they should first get a 2Meter radio of some sort, hand-held or base/mobile radio, and get on the air using a local repeater to learn how to communicate. What does this mean? Does it fit with what the purpose of Ham Radio for Green Wizards who want to preserve reliable ways of communicating?
A 2 Meter radio operates in the VHF band of 144-148 Mhz (Megahertz), where the signals pretty much are line of sight communications. This is similar to FM Broadcast and TV frequencies, but at much lower powers. FM Broadcast and TV use powers of many 10's or 100's of thousands of watts whereas a hand-held radio uses no more than maybe 5 watts and a base radio 20-60 watts. A base or mobile radio has a range of maybe 5-20 miles and a hand-held radio maybe 2-5 miles.
These ranges are approximate and can vary greatly, but will serve to illustrate my point. A Repeater is a higher-powered transmitter hooked to a very good receiver and using a large antenna, usually on a tower or mountaintop, that simultaneously re-transmits (repeats) the signals it hears so as to greatly extend their range. If you can communicate with this repeater that is in an excellent location, you can communicate with anyone else who can communicate with it, even if you can't reach them directly. Since the Repeater has it's antenna in such a good location, you can usually reach it from quite a distance, maybe 20-50 miles, even using just a hand-held radio. This way you can talk to someone else also using a hand-held radio that may be 50, 100, or more miles away.