8 Proper Etiquettes In Two-Way Radios (That Can Improve Its Effectiveness)

Rilor Staff
Update: August 26, 2021
Table of Contents

This world has been dominated by the latest technological advancements--from high-speed computers to smartphones. However, this doesn't mean that the past tools and devices are no longer needed today. A good example is a two-way radio. 

These devices have been existing for more than eight decades already. Until, it is still a vital utility that is being used by security personnel, rescue teams, and rescue responders. Even outdoor enthusiasts find these two-way radios exceptional communication tools.

If your job requires the use of these radios, it is essential that you know how to use them. Keep in mind that they don't work like your smartphones. Both the radio users can't talk at the same time; you should wait for the other user to stop talking before you can talk. Hence, it is essential that you know some of the etiquettes that could help you use these radios efficiently. 

Here are some of the essential two-way radio etiquettes that you should know. 

Important Two-Way Radio Etiquettes

1. Be Familiar With The Two-Way Radio Lingo

There are particular phrases, terms, and words that are used in two-way radios. You use them every time you speak, greet, bid goodbye to other two-way radio speakers.

You see, these codes are mandatory whenever using two-way radios. After all, your regular speech isn't always transmitted clearly on these radios. Hence, mastering these codes would enable you to communicate messages over the radio more effectively. 

Here are the standard codes used in two-way radios:

  • Stand-by - This means "please wait."
  • Affirmative - A word for "yes" or "agreed."
  • Negative - A word for "no." 
  • Over - You hear this most of the time. The code "over" signifies that you have done talking. Use this at the end of the sentence so that other users will know that it is their turn to speak. 
  • Roger/roger that - It is a code that translates that you comprehended the message being relayed to you. 
  • Copy - Similar to "roger," the word "copy" or "read" indicates that you understood the other user. However, these words are used within a sentence.
  • Out - A term signifying that the conversation is over. 
  • Wilco - When you hear this, it means that the other user will follow or comply with your requests or instructions. 

2. Always Introduce Yourself

Most two-way radios and walkie-talkies don't give you caller IDs. Hence, if you use them, the other party won't know who you are. The same thing is true with them. Because of this feature, anyone can use these two-way radios.

Therefore, it is beneficial if you introduce yourself before you start talking. Moreover, don't forget to address the individual you are talking to before you indicate your name or identity. By doing this, confusion won't be stirred up.

3. Don't Forget To Pause Before You Talk

Users of two-way radios must learn how to pause for a few seconds before they press the PTT button (press-to-talk) so that they can speak. This simple act will ensure that your very first words won't be chopped. Otherwise, you will need to repeat what you have said, which would waste your time and the other party's time. 

In emergencies, time is indeed essential. The few seconds of pausing before speaking might save your life.

4. NATO Phonetics Are A Must

The NATO Phonetics are essential in radio communication. For instance, if you have to spell out something, there's no need for you to use the actual letters since some of them sound the same. Instead, it would be best if you use the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) phonetic alphabet. This phonetic system is using words that are directly correlational to the standard English alphabet. Hence, you'll never confuse anyone. 

Suppose you are going to spell out the word CAR on a two-way radio, then you should do this like this: Charlie, Alpha, Romeo. 

5. Always Be Concise And Direct To The Point

When using a two-way radio, be aware of the time or duration you are speaking. You are not meant to talk over them for too long, which is the same way you do when you are using a smartphone. The intention of these two-way radios is to give short messages to another person. 

But how about if you are going to deliver a communication that requires a detailed explanation? What if you want to send an instruction to other parties?

Well, if you are going to do this thing, you have to utilize the word "break" right after you say one sentence, then release the PTT button right away. This will enable the other user to speak if they need to. If they said "affirmative" or "roger that," then you can proceed to talk.

In a nutshell, two-way radios must be one at a time.

6. Don't Interrupt Others When Talking 

Corresponding to the previous etiquette, it is essential that you don't interrupt the other speaker. When someone is talking, don't interrupt. Let them finish before you talk. The only exception here is that if you are in an emergency and you need to inform them about your situation. If you are in this situation, you should repeatedly say the word "break, break, break." Once the other parties hear this, they will let you speak right away.

7. Try To Speak Clearly

If you are using two-way radios or walkie-talkies in a normal setting, you should speak normally, too. Specifically, you need to talk at a moderate pace--not too fast, not too slow. Moreover, your voice should be audible enough. However, you should never shout either. When speaking, you should keep your mouth at a distance at the microphone of the radio--at least 3 inches afar. In this way, your voice won't be too loud. 

8. Always Be Wary That Others Can Hear You

Whenever you are talking to a two-way radio, you have to be reminded that your conversation might not be private (even if you are using a two-way radio with privacy codes). A frequency is not exclusive to you or your group. So there's a good chance that other two-way radio users can get in and hear you talking. Because of this, it is recommended that you avoid sending sensitive information on your radio.

In Summary

Additionally, it is essential that you speak in the English language whenever using a two-way radio. After all, it is the official language of two-way radios throughout the world--even if you are in a non-English speaking country. Once you can follow these said etiquettes, you will be able to use the two-way radio effectively. Communicating with your group or colleagues would be a lot smoother!

That's it for now. If you have other inquiries, feel free to ask me in the comment section below.

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