Basic Radio Terms & Phrases

Effective communicationI’ve put together a basic set of terms and phrases that will make communicating with a radio much easier. I am not saying that this is Ham radio jargon.  I am saying that using these simple terms and phrases will make communicating easier.  And that applies to radio or face-to-face.Communications under stress. Stressful communications.

Oftentimes long messages that are narrations or stories are the worst possible messages to use.  The listener can get lost in the message and miss the important information.  Or, there is so much that the listener misunderstands the intent of the message.

Communications under stress. Stressful communications.More often than not, in a stressful environment, a person needs to use short, easily understood messages to make a point or deliver critical information. When a person is under traumatic pressure their ability to comprehend what is happening is reduced. Using simple words and phrases is much easier to understand the meaning.  Keep it simple, clear and short.

affirmative / afirm — “yes” — This states you will comply or you agree with. Example: Q: “Will your ETA be prior to 1700? Over” A: “Affirmative. over

break — “still more information to come, do not interrupt my transmission” — This is used to let the receiver know you have more information that is part of the existing message, but you need to un-key the microphone for a minute. You will resume transmitting quickly. Example: “…ETD 1500 break” pause “correction,  ETE 2 hours, ETA 1700 over.”

break break — “breaking in on a transmission for emergency traffic/message” — This means that a person has critical information, probably safety related, that must be transmitted immediately. All persons will then cease all radio traffic and wait for the person issuing the “break break” to state the urgent information.

copy — “I received your traffic/message and I understand it” or “I am ready to receive your message”  — This does not indicate mean you will comply or that you agree with it. It simply means you have received and understand the sender’s message. Often times used as a question at the end of transmitting a long message. Example: “…end of message. How copy? Over”   More examples:

  1. Stand by to copy. over” “Ready to copy. over
  2. Q: “Did you copy all? Over” A: “ Over
  3. Q: “How copy? over” A: “Good copy all. over
  4. Q: “Did you copy traffic with Base? Over” A: “ Good copy. Over

ETA (echo tango alpha) — “Estimated time of arrival” –. Use 24-hour military time. Example: Q: “What is your ETA? Over” A: “ETA 1700. Over

ETD (echo tango delta) — “Estimated time of departure” — Use 24-hour military time. Example: Q: “What is your ETD? Over” A: “ETD 1500. Over

ETE (echo tango echo) — “Estimated time en route” — Example: Q: “What is your ETE? Over” A: “ETE is 2 hours. Over

go ahead / send your traffic — “Proceed with your traffic/message” — Example: Q: “Ready to copy traffic? Over” A: “Afirm. Go ahead with your traffic. Over

mayday – “This is an EMERGENCY DISTRESS CALL” — This means that a person has life or death information, probably accident or disaster related, and is requesting emergency assistance immediately. Respond to the sender that you are ready to copy information and cease all other radio traffic. Example: “mayday! mayday!” “Unit calling mayday go ahead with your traffic.” NO ONE ELSE SHOULD BE REPLYING TO THE MAYDAY CALL EXCEPT THE ORIGINAL RECEIVER/RESPONDER.

negative — “no” — This states you will not comply or you do not agree with. Example: Q: “Will your ETA be prior to 1700? Over” A: “Negative. ETA 1730. over

over — “I am done transmitting my current traffic/message and waiting for you to reply”  — Example: Q: “My ETA 1730. Is that ok with you? Over” A: “Negative. Need you to be here by 1700. Over

on-line — “I am listening”  —  Means that the person is listening.

out — “I am done with the conversation and have nothing more to say and won’t be listening to anymore of your side of the conversation”  —  Example: Q: “My ETA 1730. Is that ok with you? Over” A: “Negative. Need you by 1700. Over” A: “Negative. Cannot comply. ETA 1730. Out” Note: This can sound a little terse if used incorrectly.

RP (romeo papa) — “rally/rendezvous point”  — Example: Q: “ETA to RP1? Over” A: “ETA to RP1 5 minutes. Over

ready to copy — Can be a question asking if you are ready to listen to (write down) traffic/message. Or it can be a statement that you are ready to listen to (write down) your traffic/message.

  1. Q: “Message to follow. Are you ready to copy? Over” A: “ Go ahead with your traffic. Over
  2. Q: “Stand-by, message to follow. Over” A: “ Ready to copy. Over

say again — “repeat your last transmission”  —  Q: static. “How copy? Over” A: “Bad copy, say again. Over

stand-by — “Do not talk, I am busy, I will get back to you as soon as I can”  — This normally means that the other person is busy and do not send traffic until they tell you they are ready to receive. It is also used to tell a receiving person to get ready for traffic. Examples:

  1. Q: “I have important traffic. Stand-by to copy. Over” A: “Affirm, standing by. Over
  2. Q: “I am requesting assistance. Over” A: “Stand-by while I get Sam on the line. Over

traffic — “message”  — This is the message that you will be sending or receiving over the radio. Example: “I have traffic for you. Over” “Ready to copy. Send traffic. Over

wait one — “Do not talk, I am busy, I will get back to you momentarily”  —  This is similar to “stand-by” but a little more curt and assertive. You are busy and you are telling the other person to be quiet (or ‘shut up’) until I tell you that I am ready for your traffic. Example: “I have traffic for you. Over” “Wait one. Over

Good communications under stress is essential.



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