Comments made by OH Neighbourhood Watch members recently have prompted us to write this so as to clear up a few issues regarding “radio speak” on our local OH Watch radio network.
Firstly, understand that nobody in the Neighbourhood Watch is expected to perform in “paratrooper” style on the radio; in fact even the pro’s amongst us and the SAPS often use somewhat dodgy radio protocol! The radio is for communication, and all you need do is to use the radio clearly and succinctly to relay information.
Some of the “radio speak” encountered on the radio while on patrol may sound confusing, but one should understand that most of the jargon is aimed at ensuring clarity across the often crackly airwaves. Thus easily “lost” short words like ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are replaced with words like ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’. Imagine the consequences of a helicopter pilot on a marine rescue operation understanding an answer of ‘yes’ to be ‘no’…
Below are some common examples of phrases you might hear during a radio conversation, and their meanings. You may or may not wish to include some of these phrases in your “radio vocabulary”. (Nobody will object if you say: “That is correct”, instead of “That’s a papa”!)
Radio Greek and The English Translation
“breaker, breaker”, “break” : somebody else is trying to cut into your conversation with urgent or important additional information. (in this case stop transmitting and give them a chance to speak).
“copy, copy”, “I copy you” : I have received the information, understood.
“positive”, “that’s a positive”: yes, correct.
“negative”, “that’s a negative”: no, wrong.
“what’s your Lima?”: what’s your Location?
“I’ll give you a Lima”: I’ll call you on your Land-line telephone (and just to be confusing, sometimes also refers to a call to a mobile phone).
“M.V.A.”: mostly given as “em-vee-ay”, and not “Mike Victor Alpha” over the air, this refers to a “Motor Vehicle Accident”.
“repeat your Mike”: repeat your Message.
“that’s a Papa” “that’s Positive”: correct, affirmative.
“roger”, or “that’s a roger”: I understand, message understood.
“Tango Yankee”: Thank You
“Bravo Delta”: “Baie Dankie” (English ONLY is to be used on the air waves).
“(I’m) standing by”: I’m on duty, awaiting any further instructions, available, listening.
“(I’m) standing down”: I’m going off duty.
When spelling or providing letters over the air (such as in the case of a vehicle’s registration number), use is made of a phonetic alphabet to ensure clarity during transmission. Thus a Cape Town registration plate (CA) would start with ‘Charlie Alpha…’ The phonetic alphabet is listed below, but if you’re not sure of a letter’s designation while on the air, use anything clear such as “N for nuts” – make sure the operator repeats the information back to you – make it as easy as relaying a message to a slightly deaf person over the phone! Repeat information as you deem necessary to provide clarification and speak slowly and clearly, making sure the transmitting button is pushed IN before you speak! Remember to release the button when you finish speaking!
The phonetic alphabet
Whilst not intended to be discriminatory in any nature, patrollers often need to describe the race of a person for identification purposes.
Over the air, race is typically described as “Bravo”, “Charlie”, or “Whisky”, referring to a Black, Coloured or White person respectively.
(Thus a “whisky male” is a white male.)
Using the Radio:
- make sure that the channel is set to “1”
- turn on the radio
- press the talk button in, wait one second and speak clearly, release the talk button to hear the response.
The radio in the OH Watch patrol kit is different to the one sold to members. The radio in the patrol kit plugs into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle and has a magnetic aerial base that sits on the roof.
Here’s how you get the radio going.
Plug the one end of the cable into the cigarette lighter. Roll down your window and put the aerial onto the roof. Make sure that the radio is on Channel 1. You will see this displayed digitally on the radio.
You can use this radio or your own radio whilst on patrol. The advantage of using the radio provided is that it is not dependent on battery power, as it is constantly charging whilst your vehicle is moving.
With Thanks to Hout Bay Watch for the Content.