I, and probably a few others here, can probably remember making their first transmitter and receiver, (valves, with maybe a transistor output stage), also an escapement or pulsed motor as a 'servo', (good old galloping ghost).
Now you almost need a degree to 'program' your transmitters, and even some ESC's come to that.
People coming into the hobby see beautiful looking scale models for sale, and then forums suggest starting with a box with a wing on top. In todays market that just doesn't appeal to many I'm sure.
Occasionally there are threads started by someone obviously on a very low budget who wants to get flying and even building. Sometimes I suggest starting with a simple chuck glider and learning building and trimming techniques that way. But I'm fairly sure they wont bother.
Simple chuck gliders, (not the toys in a packet), are still flown at competition level, (though perhaps not quite that simple to start with). They can teach a lot.
I too have been a 'balsa basher' since the mid 50's, and still wish I could do a double curvature fuselage like they can in molded foam, but easily and in balsa. Yes I accept it's possible with a lot of block work, and sanding, and sealing, and finishing, (been there and done that in the past),........but, would a newcomer be willing ?
The saddest threads I feel are the requests for someone to build a model for them, (probably a ARTF), as they don't have the time.
Wonder how they will find the time to learn to fly ?. But then they probably think flying is as easy as buying, "well kids do it.....how hard can it be"
As for new model builders, there are loads of them here on the forums, especially in the Foamies (Scratchbuilt), some of the more specialized forums, Aerial Photography, SPAD, etc, is just that they may not be using balsa. Just the same as I am no longer using valve radios, .......but the hobby will survive, because of those that want to get involved, not by pushing it on people who don't care.