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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Voice Communication Procedure

from Art Feller, W4ART on February 2, 2002
View comments about this article!





Make sure that the channel (frequency) is clear.

Know what is going on around you.

A - alfa (AL-fa)

B - bravo (BRAH-voh)

C - charlie (CHAR-lee)

D - delta (DELL-tah)

E - echo (ECK-oh)

F - foxtrot (FOKS-trot)

G - golf (GOLF)

H - hotel (HOH-tell)

I - india (IN-dee-ah)

J - juliet (JEW-lee-ett)

K - kilo (KEY-loh)

L - lima (LEE-mah)

M - mike (MIKE)

N - november (no-VEM-ber)

O - oscar (OSS-cah)

P - papa (pah-PAH)

Q - quebec (key-BECK)

R - romeo (ROW-me-oh)

S - sierra (SEE-air-rah)

T - tango (TANG-go)

U - uniform (YOU-nee-form)

V - victor (VIK-tah)

W - whiskey (WISS-key)

X - x-ray (ECKS-ray)

Y - yankee (YANG-key)

Z - zulu (ZOO-loo)

0 - zero (ZAY-roh)

1 - one (WUN)

2 - two (TOO)

3 - three (TREE)

4 - four (FOWER)

5 - five (FIFE)

6 - six (SIX)

7 - seven (SEVEN)

8 - eight (AIT)

9 - nine (NINER)


decimal (DAY-SEE-MAL)


[2] THINK about what you will say.

Make your message clear and to the point.

Get on. Get off. Get done!

[3] MAKE THE CALL. Give:

[a] the call sign or identification of

the station called

[b] the words: ***THIS IS***

[c] the call sign or identification of

your station



Speak clearly.

Use plain language -> NO CODES!

Repeat back critical information.

End every transmission with:

***OVER*** if you expect a reply.

***OUT*** if you do NOT expect a reply.


Station identification.

Spelling words and names that are

not easily understood.

©Arthur H. Feller -- March 1991 - Virginia RACES used by permission

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on February 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Whiskey FOE-er Alpha Romeo Tango

This is: Adam Edward SEV-in George*, America Equador Siete Guatamala

What does your post mean?


* ARRL Word List for Radiotelephony

:) .... ..
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by W5HTW on February 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Martha, this is George, and I guess this applies to 1991 Virginia RACES, though it sounds more like it comes from 1951 Popular Electronics.

Apparently it is meant to apply to very specialized emergency (RACES/ARES) communications, and it actuallyclosely resembles things from 1950s and early 60s Civil Defense training manuals. But it has nearly zero meaning to ordinary amateur radio communications, so let's hope it does not mislead any newcomers (or anyone else) into being too stilted, formal, brief, and concise. We "do" conversation.

There are a couple of things that deserve comment.

(1) I am glad he mentioned "OVER" and not "OVER OVER." While relaxed operating normally doesn't require the word at all, the use of 'OVER OVER' is something I have not found how it got into the hobby or what it means. And we just don't use OUT at all, except in such old CD or formal communications.

(2) Standard phonetics ARE desirable. However, "legal ID" of your radio station is NOT in phonetics. The FCC has made this clear recently, that phonetics, including ICAO ones, are not to be used in lieu of the legal ID. The legal ID is the way your call sign is stated on your ham radio license. For me, for example, that isn't "Willy Five Hard To Walk." It is: W5HTW According to FCC rules, '"the use of standard phonetics is encouraged" but the intent is "for clarification where needed." Nothing in that is contrued to mean cute phonetics, or non-standard ones are forbidden, but neither standard nor non-standard are to be substituted for the legal ID. Some nets are not requesting members to use the full call sign only when checking in, no phonetics unless requested. This is to assure compliance with FCC rules. It is, in other words, OK to say, "This is W5HTW, Whiskey Five Hard To Win." That accomplished the requirement to state the call sign as shown on the license and gives me a whack at being cute with the phonetics.

On a relevant note, standard phonetics are best used in spelling names and locations, for example, for that guy in France or Nigeria or Lithuania may not have any idea what you are saying when you say, WASHING FIVE HOGS TAKES WHISKEY. But he will get WHISKEY FIVE HOTEL TANGO WHISKEY.

By the way, what is this "W5HTW FOR ID" we hear? Anytime you give a call sign, isn't it "for ID?" Why else would you give it?

Perhaps the article should have been titled differently to avoid confusion to those who may be seeking guidance in "everyday" ham radio operating.

. .
Voice Communication Procedure  
by KB9ZB on February 2, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
BZ it is about time !!! You are right on the money here, most of us forgot what we are all about. I think a f
few need to read about why we exsist. Our role is not just to chew up radio space just to have a ball, but for emergency communications. We are the training pool and technical pool for our nation, lest we forget this we may not have to worry about antenna's, if we can not use them!! This should be used in all of our communications. we will be ready when called upon. If we do not, it will be very hard to train anyone if we do not know.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by K2WH on February 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
W5HTW, the use of "Over, Over" is generally heard in the DX windows of various amateur bands and under very marginal conditions.

"Over", is generally used twice or more due to these marginal conditions in an attempt to notify the DX station that you are finished with your transmission. This is the same are repeating your calls more than once to a distant station under the same conditions.

As to the above phonetics, when first reading it I said my God, if we all talked like that most hams would be hanging up their mic's.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by K7NNG on February 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Most of you people ought to take to heart what ED, W5HTW states. Most of the time he is right on target with the REAL truth. Using "Q" signs, "here is", over-over, etc....are not nice on phone comms. Most of you new people should know it, because you just read the manuals, RIGHT???????????
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by KD7PKO on February 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I think the point here is to have fun but be professional AND courteous to other hams. Last night I listened to somebody tune up right on the net frequency we were using.....Something about if you can hear the station, you can work the station comes to mind here. I will give the offender here the benefit of doubt in that his/her equipment may not have been working since the requests to QSY by our net control seemed to be ignored?!?!?

73, Chris
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by W8MW on February 4, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Yup, once again W5HTW tells it like it is. You said it Ed when you said "We do conversation" as opposed to mechanical, dry information exchanges.

True, there are certain formally organized, directed communications where hard and fast procedures are called for. Emergency nets, traffic nets, MARS, etc. Obviously, that's the intent of the material presented by W4ART.

Being a ham doesn't mean you have to be a "one trick pony". You can scope out an on-air situation and adjust your operating style appropriately, should you want to or need to participate. It ain't rocket science to listen a little while and determine what the prevailing procedure is on a given frequency.

My favorite flavor of amateur radio communications is the informal, conversational rag chew. I'd rather work one station for a half-hour and get to know that person than work 30 DX stations in that same half hour where the content is 5-9 QSL via Bureau. In rag chewing, we're a lot less concerned with "Voice Communication Procedure" than we are with actually talking with someone on a human level.

There is only one voice procedure that I'd like to see more operators use. It's that part of the HF SSB rig called VOX. Even if it seems a little scary, really it won't hurt you! VOX is more than just an automated switching feature on a rig. It is a mind set that puts you into an interactive mode of operating. Fascinating things start to happen to a QSO when you get away from the "Make a transmission" mentality and move toward "Real time" interchanges with the other station. Do some listening and judge for yourself the difference between long-winded transmissions by guys holding "the hammer" down ... and others using VOX and briskly moving their conversations along.

73, Mike W8MW

Voice Communication Procedure  
by KE4MOB on February 5, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I notice this post is in the world you copyright general knowledge??
Voice Communication Procedure  
by W7KKW on February 5, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I agree withe Mike and Ed. Most of this only applies if in very bad conditions. I make it a rule never to say "over" or use phonetics except in an emergency. I always use VOX and operate conversation style the use of phonetics and "over" are very irritating in a conversation where all stations are good copy.
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on February 5, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Whiskey FOE-er Alpha Romeo Tango

This is: Adam Edward SEV-in George*, America Equador Siete Guatamala

What does your post mean?


* ARRL Word List for Radiotelephony
Voice Communication Procedure  
by AD6LR on February 5, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
AE7G comment (what does the post mean) is very appropriate. It seems that the copy-righted post is from a RACES manual's section on how to communicate (speak) under emergency conditions. Since, the posted section was written (or at least copy righted) by Art, it might be inferred that Art wants Amateurs to always use emergency modes of speaking on the radio. So the question posed seems to be, should Amateurs always use emergency modes of conversation? I do not know of any FCC regulations that require emergency modes of speaking when no emergency exists. I also do not know of any FCC mandated set of Phonetics (just recommended). Thus, emergency modes of speaking with a given set of phonetics, under non-emergency conditions is just voluntary. So the remaining question is, what's to be gained by always speaking as if an emergency existed? If the conversation is between long time friends, I see no advantage. If it is for first time QSO's, perhaps some clarity. In a round robin, perhaps it leads to loss of time and confusion. Therefore, I do not see the posted communication rules, as guidelines for all circumstances. It may be best for each individual Amateur to judge the best mode of communication for him/her at any given time and circumstance.
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by K0KK on February 6, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I'm surprised to see objections to the article's suggestion of using the International Phonetic Alphabet for identification (e.g., "this is Kilo Zero Kilo Kilo" instead of "this is K0KK."). Use of the International Phonetic is the accepted procedure in all military communication. Law enforcement uses a different alphabet, but the principle is the same. I've always considered it to be best practice in amateur communication. Without it, a single K is often confused with KA, B and D can be confused with each other, etc.

The FCC rules on station identification (Part 97.119.(b)(2) )state:

"Use of a standard phonetic alphabet as an aid for correct station identification is encouraged;" To me, this means saying "This is Kilo Zero Kilo Kilo," not giving my call in letters than again with phonetics.

I've heard of hams being cited by the FCC for using ONLY their own cute phonetics, but that's a different issue. To me, knowing and using the real International Phoentic Alphabet is a sign of competence. Interestingly, I've observed that the newer hams are often more skilled at using the International Phoentic Alphabet than many older hams, who never bothered to learn it.

But maybe I'm not aware of an FCC ruling to the contrary. Can anyone cite a specific ruling or regs change on this?

Voice Communication Procedure  
by K0RS on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
A lpha
N ovember
A lpha
L ima

BTW: "Over, over" is NOT usually heard in DX windows when signals are weak. It is usually heard on DX NETS, where minds, not signals are weak.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by KE4OAR on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The use of standardized phonetics is important in making sure a message gets through when phonetics is necessary. It keeps everyone on the same songsheet.

Also, by using standardized phonetics, it makes it easier to spell, phonetically, words/calls that are not normally sent phonetically.

I came from an aviation background before amateur radio and the FAA strongly preferes the use of the standardized phonetics (I know, that's a blanket statement and not universally followed by all controllers). I received several verbal chastisements for using "Mary" instead of "Mike", a seeminingly innocent adjustment in the phonetics, but they did not have to beat my brow too often before I got the picture.

Also, after getting into amateur radio, stations would frequently use "kilowatt" for the letter "k". Well, the word for "k" is "kilo", so naturally, the next "word" is the next letter. I was forever writing down "kw" (it didn't help that "kw" is also the scientific abbreviation for "kilowatt"). So, here is an innocent example of how a message could be corrupted by the use of improper phonetics.

Having said all that, I do find that I need to use alternate phonetics on occaisions. My call KE4OAR, "kilo" "echo" "four" "oscar" "alpha" "romeo", frequently gets received as "KE4AAR", "KE4OER", "KE4EAR" and several other permutations. I have an alternate phonetic spelling for my call that uses words that sound different and are reasonably understood by most. Generally they are geographic locations or features.

So, the fun phonetics are fun and I usually get a chuckle out of them. But just remember the situation and when it is really important, use the standard alphabet. Also, remember, that in the heat of the battle, old habits are hard to change and the "fun" phonetics may cause a communication problem at the worst possible time.

kentucky-england-four-ocean-america-radio, I mean kilo-echo-four-oscar-alpha-romeo
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by KE4MOB on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
K0KK, where did you get your Part 97 quote?

Here it says:

"Use of a phonetic alphabet as an aid for correct station identification is encouraged." The word "standard" is missing. Did you just include it by mistake? "Use of a phonetic alphabet" is a lot different from "Use of a standard phonetic alphabet". According to reference above, it is legally acceptable to use ANY phonetic alphabet available. Do I advocate using Avocado, Bananna, Canteloupe etc?? NO! But the rules do give some leeway.

On a different topic, I also note in this section each station "must transmit its assigned call sign". My assigned callsign is KE4MOB--not Kilo Echo 4 Mike Oscar Bravo. A callsign, by definition, consists of numbers and letters, not words. The exclusive use of phonetics--not just "cutesy" ones, are what got the parties you reference in trouble. Proper identification entails saying the letters clearly and succinctly--and then using phonetics if necessary.


Steve, Kay-Eee-Four-Em-Oh-Bee on voice
dahdidah dit dididididah dadah dadadah dadididit on CW
-or my favorite-
deedleedeeeldeeldeddleedleddleedlee on RTTY
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by K0KK on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
KE4MOB--you asked where I got the quote on station identification that included the word "standard" with phonetics. We'll, it came from This is from the ARRL site and supposedly an exact quote from the FCC rules. However, I looked other places, including the FCC link to the government source, and the word "standard" does not appear. Very interesting.

I searched all over the ARRL Web site looking for guidance and could find nothing. Maybe the ARRL Operating Manual would help, but I don't have one.

Still, I think you're over-interpreting this. To me, my call sign, as prounced in any language over the air, really is Kilo Zero Kilo Kilo. I say this because this is the long-standing practice in every segment of communication: commercial radio, military (including MARS), and aviation (as pointed out in another reply). An operator never speaks a single letter--it's said as a phonetic. I can't believe the FCC would treat amateur radio differently, with the result of degrading clear communication and misunderstanding.

But I could be wrong. I hope not.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by AA9KK on February 7, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I and several of my friends who operate UHF in the Chicago area have created the following
phonetics guaranteed to "get the message through." Try them out! You'll like them.
So will your fellow operators :-)

A - Aegis
B - Brie
C - Cereal
D - Djibouti
E - Eye, Ewe
F - Fjord
G - Gnome, Gnu
H - Hombre
I - Iguana
J - Juarez
K - Knight
L - Llama
M - Mnemonic
N - Night, Nome, New
O - Ombre
P - Pneumatic, Phenomenon
Q - Quiche
R - Rote, Rye
S - Serial
T - Tsunami
U - Ursa, Uruguay
V - Voila
W - Wrote, Wry
X - Xenon
Y - Yttrium
Z - Zeitgeist


Neil (Aegis Aegis Nine Knight Knight)
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by KE4MOB on February 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
K0KK, I done some searching and you are correct...the use of phonetics is entirely acceptable for station identificaton. Here is an excerpt from an Enforcement Letter issued September 1999 to K4YE:

"It is our understanding that you may have some objection to the manner in which stations
identify when checking into the net," Hollingsworth said. He said FCC rules require ID "at certain times" but said that how a station identifies "is not a concern of the Commission so long as the identification method is not deceptive."


Sorry about that, I should have done more research before I posted....

As for the Part 97, the only difference I see is that the FCC site is an October 2001 version and the ARRL is July 2001. Strange, ain't it?

Steve, KE4MOB
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by K0KK on February 8, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
KE4MOB, Thanks for sticking with this and researching it until you got something conclusive. I think it is an important issue, and I'm relieved to learn of your finding. In the meantime, it was a nice, lively discussion.
Voice Communication Procedure  
by AB8IG on February 10, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Oh my goodness,
I have not always used the phonetics from the aviation industry. I've got some real problems to attend to without worrying about verbage on HF.
My sources show that there are various phonetic alphabets from around the world and I apologize
if I offend anyone for not using the 'proper' phonetics while I am on the air. If the receiving station can copy my transmission, I reckon I'm doing a decent job.
abel baker eight italy germany
Voice Communication Procedure  
by AB2MH on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Plain English always works fine for me.
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by N2ERN on February 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Unless I twist the last letter of my call to sound like "ennnna", people think I'm saying N 2 E R M.

Echo-Romeo-November saves a lot of corrections.

Personally, I prefer the use of phonetics in call signs

Harry N2ERN
RE: Voice Communication Procedure  
by K8NY on February 14, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Over Over was given to the Amateur community by none other than Bill, W2ONV ovah...ovah
Voice Communication Procedure  
by KC0KOC on February 19, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with number 4 , no codes

It drives me crazy to hear cw net Q signals
being spoken on a 2 meter FM repeater.
Whats the point? The point in communication
is to be understood and if you use a method not
meant for the mode you are using you only confuse people. If you like Net Q signals get on a CW
net and use them.

and as porky pig says

"thats all folks"
Steve in St. Paul, MN
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