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.


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, inform the other parties that you have an urgent emergency message (see "Emergency Calls" below).


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

Never transmit sensitive, confidential, financial or military information.  Unless you are certain your conversations are secured with the proper level of encryption for the level of sensitivity, assume your conversations can be heard by others.


Perform radio checks to ensure your radio is in good working condition.

◦           Ensure the battery is charged and the power is on.

◦           Keep the volume high enough to be able to hear calls.

◦           Regularly make radio checks to make sure everything is working and that you are still in range to receive signals.


Memorize call signs and locations of persons and radio stations you communicate with regularly.


Everybody has their own unique call sign.


In radio communication, you are not normally called by your name, however we do use individuals’ names.


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.


5 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.
  2. Simplicity: Keep your message simple enough for intended listeners to understand.
  3. Brevity: Be precise and to the point.
  4. Security: Do not transmit confidential information unless you know the proper security technology is in place. Remember, frequencies are shared, you do not have exclusive use of the frequency.
  5. Swearing: Do NOT use any foul language. Everybody in the other vehicles and beyond can hear you!

Speaking the Language


General Terms & Meaning:

Radio Check

What is my signal strength?  Can you hear me?

Go Ahead  

You are ready to receive the transmission


You acknowledge the other party, but I am unable to respond immediately

Roger or Ten Four 

Message received and understood


Same as "No"


Same as "Yes".  Avoid "yup" or "nope" as they are difficult to hear

Say Again

Re-transmit your message


Your message is finished


All conversation is finished, the channel is clear for others to use

Break, 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, use "Read you 5-by-5"

Come in

You are asking the other party to acknowledge they hear you


You understand what was said


Means "I will comply"

I Repeat

Used before you repeat something. ex: "I require 9-5, repeat 9-5, gallons of diesel fuel. Over"




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 PTT (Push-To-Talk) button.
  3. After 2 seconds:
    1. Say "recipient's call sign or their name” twice
    2. followed by "THIS IS"   and "your call sign or your name".
  4. Once the person replies, convey your message.


Here's a typical radio conversation:

You:                "Papa November One (or the name of the person you are trying to contact), Papa November One, this is Papa November Nine (or your name), Come in, Over” (PN1 is their call sign, PN9 is your call sign)

Recipient:        "Papa November Nine, this is Papa November One, Go Ahead, Over"

You:                Say your message and then say:  "Over"

Recipient:        "Roger Wilco, Over"

You:                "This is Papa November Nine (or your name), Over and Out"


Did you notice how at the beginning and end of the transmission you pronounce your call sign or name?  Because there can sometimes be many people listening on the frequency, pronouncing your call sign or name, and the call sign or name of the party you are calling, lets everyone know who the transmission is for. Communicating this way might feel a little odd at first, but you'll soon get used to it. With practice, it will start to feel natural.


Emergency Calls

If you have an emergency message and need to interrupt others' conversations:

  • Wait and listen until you hear "Over".
  • Press PTT and say "BREAK, BREAK, BREAK, your call sign or name, I have an emergency message for (recipient's call sign or their name), Do you copy, Over".