New to two way radios? Not sure what the correct protocol is when you’re using your radio? Your business may set its own conventions, but here are some generally accepted rules of two way radio etiquette you might find helpful.
When you have the talk button pressed, no one else in your group can speak or be heard – two way radios are mostly a one-at-a-time system of communication, unlike telephones where you can interrupt and talk over each other. So it’s important to think about your message beforehand.
If you leave the talk button pressed while you compose your thoughts, not only are you preventing anyone else joining in the conversation, you might be blocking someone on your frequency with an emergency message to transmit. You’ll run down your radio battery faster, too!
Identify yourself and the recipient of your message
There may be a group of users all sharing the same radio channel, so it’s important (and good manners) to identify yourself immediately when you initiate a transmission. It’s also polite to get the attention of the person to whom your message is directed before relaying your message.
For example: “Foxtrot123, this is Oscar456, OVER”.
“OVER” is common radio lingo and lets the other person know you’ve finished speaking. There’s no point doing much more than identifying yourself and the recipient at this point. When you know you have the other person’s attention and they’re able to join the conversation, you can transmit the rest of your message.
The other person may not be able to respond immediately – be patient and give them time to reply before re-sending your call.
Use short, clear and concise messages
As two way radios only allow one person to speak at a time, it’s best to keep your transmissions short, clear and to the point. This gives other users an opportunity to acknowledge your message or request further clarification before you carry on with your next point.
Radio users often repeat a message to make it clear that they’ve heard and understood the information. For example:
Foxtrot123: “Oscar456, this is Foxtrot123, assistance required at 32 Green Street, OVER”.
Oscar456: “This is Oscar 456, confirming assistance required at 32 Green Street. On my way, OVER”.
Pause before speaking
When you first press the push to talk (PTT) button, there can be a short delay before your radio transmits. This could result in your first couple of words being cut off, so wait a second or two before speaking to be sure your listeners receive your whole message.
Learn the lingo
It helps two way radio communication when everyone understands and uses similar language and etiquette, especially when there are more than two people using the channel.
- Over – I’ve finished speaking
- Say Again – Repeat your last message
- Stand-by – I acknowledge your transmission, but can’t respond right now
- Go ahead – I can respond, go ahead with your message
- Roger – message received and understood
- Affirmative / Negative – Yes / No
- Out – Conversation is finished, the channel is clear for other users.
The phonetic alphabet
It’s often necessary to clarify an important part of your message by spelling it out – literally. On two way radios, the common protocol to spell out critical words is to use NATO’s phonetic alphabet.
|A – Alpha||J – Juliet||S – Sierra|
|B – Bravo||K – Kilo||T – Tango|
|C – Charlie||L – Lima||U – Uniform|
|D – Delta||M – Mike||V – Victor|
|E – Echo||N – November||W – Whiskey|
|F – Foxtrot||O – Oscar||X – X-ray|
|G – Golf||P – Papa||Y – Yankee|
|H – Hotel||Q – Quebec||Z – Zulu|
|I – India||R – Romeo|