• Nothing is worse than a radio operator that never listens first and talks over a conversation already in progress. There could be vital communications already in progress.
  • Announce your presence clearly and concisely, then wait and listen again.
  • Make your call then and only then if the channel is clear, and do so in a fashion that if you were the intended recipient of such a call, you would be in no doubt of the identify of the caller and his intended message. Prolonged calls and CQ calls are unnecessary on accepted calling channels.
  • With Digital modes it is important to listen – wait, key the mic – wait one second, then speak… stop speaking – wait one second then release the PTT, giving the network chance to sync.


  • In establishing a contact, the essential parts are that you have correctly identified your correspondent and that he and you are in the position to exchange information. There is nothing worse than being asked to repeat vital information. Proceed only when you are both ready.
    M3xyz from g4abc, are you ready to copy, over!
    G4abc from m3xyz, ready to copy, go ahead, over!
    Yes, these two examples are extreme but illustrate the message.


  • If you are going to conversation mode, restrict your topics.
    Talk no longer than 3 minutes at a time, and less long on a repeater. This allows you to think more about what you are saying, rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
  • Censor yourself. Not everyone wants your full station details from the outset. Too many items in the list risks information overload, and loss of interest. Not everyone has the same level of enthusiasm for certain subject matter as you. If you wander on, your correspondent may get interrupted in his listening by local matters such as a phone call, or disappear to make coffee due to boredom. Offer only essential information at first.
  • At the and of such an extended transmission always re-identify yourself and your correspondent on conclusion, “m3xyz from g4abc”, and leave good breaks between transmissions.


  • Remember that any remarks you make are not private.
  • Your language, including remarks that may be less complimentary about a third party are open to interpretation by others.
  • Say nothing that you would not like said to you, or about you, if spoken by others. If you cannot say anything nice, then say nothing at all.
  • Try to use accepted speech rather than acronyms, mnemonics, or catchwords as not everyone may be as fluent as you. If you use a short cut, know what it means if it calls for explanation. This is especially important in the emerging technologies, as a lot of terminology has been confused, such as in talkgroups and reflectors in Digital Mobile Radio.
  • Politeness costs nothing, if you disagree, agree to disagree, don’t argue about a point, as in the end neither of you will be right and you will hate each other.


  • If you are the respondent to a call that is not of the standard that is outlined here, raise the standard and apply this etiquette. Just because the other caller lacks the expected protocol, it may be that he or she has not yet had the benefit of receiving the appropriate tuition, and you will now be best placed to give it by example.


  • Where possible leave listeners in no doubt that you have finished the conversation, or that you are leaving the channel.
  • Naturally there are times when batteries fail and correspondents are no longer in range, that is inevitable, but clear the channel anyway for the benefit of others.

Chris G4NAB/F5VMR is a retired Hampshire police officer (1971-2003), where for many of his 30+ years of service was a professional radio operator/ dispatcher/ controller in all the county control rooms during their evolution from VHF to UHF over the past 45 years. He gained his first amateur licence G8POB in 1977 with a pass in the City and Guilds Amateur Radio examination, and having passed the Post Office Morse test at Niton on the Isle of Wight, gained the call G4NAB in 1983. He retired from the police in 2003 from the police control room at Netley, Southampton. He now lives in France and continues his amateur activities in French as well as English.

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