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Radio Etiquette: Learn Two-way Communication

Etiquette of Radio Communication
Samyak Lalit | March 2, 2012 (Last update: September 23, 2017)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

Two-way radio communication is an art. In this era of mobile phones –it is all the more important for everyone to learn how to communicate over radio; because many of the radio etiquette apply to the mobile communication as well. Radio etiquette are the rules designed to ensure smooth and precise communication over the wireless sets (aka walky-talky). Armed forces use these devices to send across extremely important messages. If these messages are misunderstood, a great loss of life may ensue. That is the reason radio conversation has be be absolutely accurate.

Today, I am writing about how the radio communication should be done. I guess everyone must be aware of these things, you never know when such critical knowledge may come handy!

Be ready before you speak.

Before making a radio call, decide about what you are going to say and to whom your message is meant for. If necessary, write down your message before transmitting it. If your message is long, divide it into understandable shorter messages.

Identity yourself upon initiation of call

Radio communication usually occurs among more than two people and they all communicate with each other over a particular radio frequency. Unlike talking on mobile phones, each person does not have a specific phone number which will flash on receiving party’s handset.

Etiquette of Radio Communication

Etiquette of Radio Communication

So, it is very important to clearly identify yourself when you make a radio call; for example “Bravo423, this is Echo5Charlie.”

Don’t think that this introduction is funny and it just happens to dramatize a movie scene. Let me repeat, it is extremely important to CLEARLY identify yourself.

Be concise

Radio is used only for sending and receiving important messages and not for long chit-chat. So, be precise and concise.

Go a bit slow

If you have a long list of points to be delivered to the other side –it is considered polite if you speak one point and then say “break”… wait for a couple of seconds… speak the next point… again say “break”… wait again a bit… so on so forth…

Use of “break” between points and wait of a couple of seconds gives time to the other party to interject if they need to.

When you want other party to speak

To signal that you have finished speaking and now you’re waiting for the other party to reply –you should say “over”

Terminating a call

When you want to terminate a call; say “over and out”

If you are talking to your seniors –don’t terminate the call on your own. Let them decide and end the call whenever they deem fit.

Once “over and out” has been communicated –nothing more should be said after that.


In radio communication, interrupting the other party’s speech is considered very rude. Army guys may as well have to face music for such a mistake. You are expected to patiently listen when it is the other party’s turn to speak.

But if there is an emergency and you have to interrupt –you should say “break, break, break”

Don’t use “repeat”

In case of military communication, usage of the word “repeat” must be avoided in general communication because a misunderstanding of this word could have grave repercussions (e.g. a repeat attack)

If you could not hear what the other party was saying –you should use “say again” to request the other party to repeat the words.

Use NATO Phonetic Alphabet

Sometimes radio communications are of mission critical nature. A slight misunderstanding can cause an unimaginable havoc. So, it is recommended to spell out key words using NATO Phonetic Alphabet. This alphabet goes like “Alpha Bravo Charlie…”

Avoid saying “yes” or “no”

Saying yes or no could sometimes cause misunderstanding. So, you should say affirmative instead of yes and negative instead of no.

I hope you liked this article and found it useful. Please comment what you think of radio communication. Is it funny? or necessary? Thank you for using TechWelkin.


9 responses to “Radio Etiquette: Learn Two-way Communication”

  1. Malcolm Bennington says:

    You can’t end a call with over & out.
    Over means I am listening for your reply
    If you reply to an over request just reply and say out meaning you don’t need a reply.
    A lot of this over and out nonsense came from the USA

  2. emilly adhiambo says:

    thank you so much, this article helped me. i had no idea in radio communication.

  3. 10 Year Amy Veteran says:

    If you are using military etiquette as your reference, this article has the following mistakes:

    1, Over and Out – is not correct. You are either “over” OR “out”. You never use them together.

    2. Only the initiator of the conversation can end it. They do so by saying “Out”.

    Just thought you might want to know.

    • Twin Boar says:

      I would also add this comment. In military radio etiquette. you do not use ROGER and WILCO in the same message. (ROGER = I hear you “loud & clear”. Wilco = I hear you” Loud & Clear and I will complain to your message” both mean the same and are repetitive message.) I also confirm & reaffirm my fellow comrade- in arms personnel; you do NOT use OVER and OUT in the same message. (Over= talk back to me and OUT = stop talking to me ??? … This is counter-productive) Twin Boar … out …

  4. rodrigo says:

    Thank you for the info. I work in a warehouse. When assigned on a forklift or a power-jack, we are given radios to relay messages. Unfortunately, no one, including the supervisors and managers, seem to know two way radio communication. Thus the air waves can get rather confusing and congested at times. I started using the jargon and radio etiquette from your articles, and my co-workers started catching on. Things have gotten a whole lot clearer and smoother since then. In fact, a bystanders once asked me if we have been trained in radio communication, something which I found really funny. So thank you again. “Over.”

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Oh that’s so wonderful Rodrigo! I am glad that my article turned out to be useful for you! Thank you for being thoughtful and send across your comments. Cheers!

  5. Socajunkie says:

    Isn’t saying Thank you and You’re welcome improper radio etiquette?

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Radio communication is all about conveying the core message. Pleasantries are not usually exchanged. However it depends on the situation.

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