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Best Practice for Radio Users

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Radio Operating Techniques

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The aim of all radio operators should be to get the message through with complete accuracy and minimum delay, so the least possible time is spent occupying the frequency. Occupying frequency may prevent other users from communicating when they need it most.

Here are a few general operating guidelines:

First, listen before you call. Someone else may be using the channel. If more than one radio is transmitting at the same time, a garbled transmission will result.

Second, don’t interrupt. If you hear other people talking, wait until their conversation is finished before you begin, unless it is an emergency.

Third, think before you speak. Know what you are going to say before you press the PTT (Press-to-talk) button. Long moments of quiet thinking are…ummm….frustrating for others and occupy frequency unnecessarily.

Fourth, speak clearly: Use your normal voice and do not speak too fast. Divide your message into natural phrases instead of individual words so that it flows smoothly.

Fifth, 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. Otherwise, assume your conversations can be heard by others.

Sixth, spell difficult, ambiguous or unfamiliar words using the phonetic alphabet. For more on this, refer to Lesson 5 in this series.

Seventh, keep your conversations short. There is no need to ramble, and conversations should be kept as brief as possible, so as to allow others the time to use the frequency.

Eighth, reply promptly when someone calls you. When a transmitting radio has said “over”, reply immediately. If a transmitting radio fails to receive an immediate reply, there will be doubts as to whether; The message has actually been received, the radio is working, or if the operator is still at the radio.

Lastly, as a recap, here are the four Golden rules of radio operation.

  1. Clarity – For clear communications, speak slightly slower than normal and avoid shouting.
  2. Simplicity– simplified language will make it easier for everyone to understand you
  3. Brevity – Keep your statements short and concise.
  4. Security – Always assume that someone is listening to your conversation. If your system uses encryption, you still need to be cautious because there is a human element that could cause a security breach.