While you can quite easily pick up a two-way radio and start communicating with whoever you want, it is probably going to be worth your while learning a few of the two-way radio use guidelines. This way you know exactly what you are doing when you are communicating via two-way radio. We do want to point out that these guidelines are only for communicating with the general public. If you have set up your own two-way system, or you are going onto a private system, then you may have different two-way radio use guidelines. Either way, there are going to be a few rules you need to follow.
Speaking On the Radio
When you are communicating on a public two-way radio system, then it is generally expected that you will communicate in English. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, English is the language for most two-way radio systems. It ensures that everybody is on a level playing field. That being said, if you are entering a smaller network (maybe CB), then you may want to listen to a little bit and see which language everybody is speaking. If you can speak that language, then go ahead and talk to them! You can probably try and speak in English, but there is no guarantee you will get a response.
When you are speaking on a radio, it is important that you do not pump out lengthy messages. A few sentences at the most is ideal. Keep your messages nice and simple too. Short and snappy broadcasts are the way to go here. This is because two-way radios are not always the best at the audio quality if the signal is too weak. If your message is too long and complicated, a lot may end up getting lost in translation.
Proper Radio Etiquette
You should also not hog a radio station unless you know nobody else is trying to communicate on it. The nature of two-way radios, and radios in general for that matter, is the fact that only one person can be transmitting at once. So, if you are transmitting, nobody else is going to be able to do anything for the duration. The longer your message, the fewer people are going to be able to talk. You certainly shouldn’t be having major conversations over a two-way radio unless you are 100% sure that nobody else is going to be listening in. Basically, you should only be talking when you have something important to convey.
Remember; whenever you are speaking on the radio, you will want to identify yourself. People can’t tell who you are unless you have an identifier. For this reason, a lot of people will have callsigns and the like. Although, to be honest, you don’t need anything too crazy here. It is just fine to state your name, or maybe your location if this is going to be important to the conversation.
Ending Your Communication On the Radio
As we said before; only one person can communicate on the radio waves at once. This means that you may have people waiting around to speak. This is why it is important that you always tell people that you have finished communicating. A simple ‘over’ is more than enough for this. Then, as soon as you say ‘over’ remove your finger from the push to talk button on your radio and people will be able to start talking again. Make sure you leave it a while before you talk, unless the response is relevant to you. If you do not take your turn when communicating on a radio, it pretty much ruins the whole system for everybody.
Learn the Lingo
Different radio networks have their own lingo. Before you start talking, listen to the terms that people are using. To be honest, there are some terms that are going to be relevant no matter where you are. However, there are some radio communities out there, particularly ones on short range networks, that have their own way of talking. If you have no idea what they are saying with their abbreviations, then look it up. Google is a fantastic resource here. Don’t waste time on the radio network as you will just be sniffed at. Make sure that when you do communicate, you can use these abbreviations. They are designed to keep communications shorter. Don’t try to add your own abbreviations into the mix. It won’t end well.
Don’t Transmit Sensitive Data
Seriously. So many people forget this. A lot of people seem to have the illusion that radio networks are private. They aren’t. They are incredibly public. If you are sending confidential information over the radio waves, you have no idea who is listening in. Just don’t do it. Ever. If you need to communicate private information, do it in person or on the cell phone.
Learn the Rules for Your Radio Network
These are just general two-way radio use guidelines. It is not a complete list of everything about radios. It is just a few pointers here and there. Whenever you are planning to communicate on a new network, particularly CB, then you may want to have a listen to see what other people are doing. While the rules for communication do not vary all that much, there are a few two-way radio communities that may have their own rules about what you can do on the network. Basically, be polite. Imagine as if you are entering a massive room of people and you don’t know anybody, but they all know one another. You are probably not going to run in and start screaming things before you get a read of the room, right?
Remember; there are some forms of radio communication (again, we are bringing up CB) that will have rules regarding which channel is used for what method of communication. It is important that you get a feel for these frequencies before you dive in. That way you know that you are on the right channel.