Can You Hear Me Now? Over!: Your Guide to Proper Radio Etiquette

If you’ve ever played around with walkie-talkies or two-way radios, you’ve probably casually thrown around terms like “Roger that” and “over.” But, did you know that beyond using the right lingo, there are certain rules to follow when using a two-way radio?

In this brief guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of proper radio etiquette to make your communication go more smoothly. Let’s get to it!

Determine Whether You Need an FCC Radio License

If you have a commercial or professional radio system, then you may need a radio license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Whether you need a license largely depends on how you intend to use your radios and where you plan to use them. You can learn more about FCC licensing for two-way radios by clicking the link.

Speak in Clear English

Unless otherwise specified, English is the official international language of communicating through a two-way radio. Always default to using English unless you or your colleagues are licensed to use another language for communication.

Always Assume Your Conversations Aren’t Private

When communicating on a two-way radio, always remember that you don’t have exclusive use of the frequency. As such, you should always assume that others could hear your conversations. Never talk about confidential or sensitive information without encryption.

Don’t Forget to Pause

Before you transmit a message, get in the habit of taking a pause after pressing the press-to-talk button. By waiting a beat between pressing the button and speaking, it will help to ensure that your first few words don’t get cut off.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Two-way radios are great for transmitting information quickly, but they are not ideal for lengthy conversations. Keep your communication to short bursts of information to avoid confusion. If you do have to relay a longer message, say “break” and let go of the button after each section of your message. This gives the other party a chance to respond or ask for clarification.

Be Mindful About How You Speak

Many of us talk faster than we think we do, but using a two-way radio is a good reminder to slow down. Before relaying your message, be thoughtful about how you speak. Aim to talk in a clear, even tone, being careful not to speak too quickly. As a good rule of thumb, keep the microphone at least 3 inches away from your mouth so your voice doesn’t sound too loud.

Always Identify Yourself

At the start of every conversation, proper etiquette says that you should identify yourself so the other party knows exactly who they are talking to. You should also address the other party by name or their call sign if they have one, so there’s no confusion.

Avoid Interrupting

Finally, be sure not to interrupt the other party when they’re speaking. Talking over each other will make it hard to get your message across, so wait until they are completely finished before responding. If there’s an emergency, you can say, “break, break, break” to let them know you need to relay something important.

Practice Proper Radio Etiquette

Now that you’ve learned the basics of proper radio etiquette, it’s time to put these tips to use! Anytime you use a two-way radio, follow these guidelines so there is no confusion about what you’re trying to say.

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