Radio Protocol

Radio Basics

It’s important to get familiar with the etiquette of two-way radio communication. This will help improve your overall experience when using your radio.  To make radio communication go more smoothly, over the years certain rules, or etiquette, have been established. Below we have outlined the basic etiquette a radio user should understand.

Basic Radio Etiquette and Rules

  • The international radio language is English, except in cases where you are licensed to speak in some other language.


  • When using a two-way radio you cannot speak and listen at the same time, as you can with a phone.


  • Listen before you speak -Don’t interrupt. If you hear other people talking, wait until their conversation is finished unless it is an emergency. If it is an emergency, use the words “BREAK BREAK” and release the PTT to ensure the channel is clear.


  • Do not respond if you aren’t sure the call is for you. Wait until you hear your call sign to respond.


  • Perform radio checks to ensure your radio is in good working condition. Anyone who has heard the test can answer.
    • Ensure the battery is charged and the power is on.
    • Keep the volume high enough to be able to hear calls. Nothing can be more frustrating to a transmitting station than not being able to obtain an answer from you when they know you are there. If you plan not to respond, announce this fact.
    • Regularly make radio checks to make sure everything is working and that you are still in range to receive signals.
    • Do not speak directly into the microphone (mic). Speak across it. Don’t shout – You should use your normal voice.


  • Memorize call signs and locations of persons and radio stations you communicate with regularly.
    • In radio communication you are not called by your name. Everybody has their own unique call sign. For a small number of “stations”, the name of the operator can be used as a call sign. ( To be used in club outings)


  • Think before you speak.
    • Decide what you are going say and to whom it is meant for.
    • Make your conversations as concise, precise, and clear as possible.
    • Avoid long and complicated sentences. If your message is long, divide it into separate shorter messages.
    • Do not use abbreviations unless they are well understood by your group.

4 Golden Rules of Radio Communication

  1. Clarity:

Your voice should be clear. Speak a little slower than normal. Speak in a normal tone, do not shout.

  1. Simplicity:

Keep your message simple enough for intended listeners to understand.

  1. Brevity:

Be precise and to the point.

  1. Security:

Do not transmit confidential information on a radio unless you know the proper security technology is in place. Remember, frequencies are shared; you do not have exclusive use of the frequency!


Speak the language

General Terms Meaning
Radio Check What is my signal strength?  Can you hear me?
Go Ahead You are ready to receive transmission.
Stand-by You acknowledge the other party, but I am unable to respond immediately.
Roger Message received and understood.
Negative Same as “No”.
Say Again Re-transmit your message
Over Your transmission is finished. (Reply expected)
Out All conversation is finished, the channel is clear for others to use. (No reply expected)
Break, Break You are interrupting in the middle of communication because you have an emergency.
Read you loud & clear Response to “Radio Check”. Means your transmission signal is good. Also a good alternative to use is “good and readable”.
Come in You are asking the other party to acknowledge they hear you.
Wilco Means “I will comply”.
“Say again” and “I say again” Used before you repeat something. i.e.: “I require 10, I say again 10, liters of diesel fuel. Over”
Location Where you are


Making a call


Follow these easy steps to make a call


  1. First listen to ensure the channel is clear for you.
  2. Press the PPT (Push-To-Talk) button.
  3. After 2 seconds:
    1. Say [recipient’s call sign] twice
    2. Followed by “THIS IS” and [your call sign].
    3. Followed by “OVER”
  4. Release the PTT button and wait for acknowledgement.
  5. Once the person replies convey your message. (Proper acknowledgement is i.e. “THIS IS [Name], SEND.