10 Tips: Radio Etiquette

Here are 10 tips on proper radio etiquette from the people in charge of the 3 largest radio channels in the off-road world on race day. Weatherman (Bob Steinberger), BFG Relay (Wild Bill), and BITD radio operator Keith.


  •  Know Your Radio. Better yet, know your friends radio too. Learn how to use it properly and have it connected to a good power source. Be mindful of your voltage, some radios will stick in transmit if the voltage is low. That and you want to be able to start your vehicle when it’s time to go.  – Wild Bill
  • Listen, Listen, Listen Before Transmitting. Take the time to figure out whether frequency is in use. Relays typically are sitting high on mountain tops and might be taking traffic that you can’t hear. This is especially important if there is an emergency being handled. – Wild Bill
  • Have an ID.  Chase 1 to chase 2 or Joe to Bill doesn’t get it. What is correct is to use the vehicle number, your specific duty and your name.  Examples – TT 77 chase 3 Bill to whomever.  Or Race 1032 to Weatherman, or Baja Pit 3 to Weatherman.  These ID’s leave no doubt and shorten the amount of airtime used. – Weatherman
  • Reception. If you can’t receive or can’t be heard sometimes moving 10-20 feet may make your signal useable. – Keith
  • Stuck Microphone. Telling someone their mic is stuck is useless till they stop transmitting.  They can’t hear til they release.  That’s the time to ream them out. -Weatherman
  • Don’t be a Richard Cranium. Unplug your mic if you don’t have a proper mic hang-up.  Never put your mic on the seat, in your drink holder, or between your legs.  If your mic cord is frayed or stretched, replace it.  Don’t ever leave your radio unattended with children in the vehicle.  Don’t ever walk around with a handheld in your pocket, use a belt clip or holster. – Weatherman
  • Frequency. Know your frequency, channel 6 does not mean much and is not useable. That would be like ordering a pizza for the first time having it delivered and saying bring it to my house, with no address. – Keith
  • Mind the Wind. If you’re in area and the wind is howling be sure to face into it. When the wind is at your back or sideways all we hear is the noise from it. – Wild Bill
  • When someone does not answer.  Don’t keep calling and calling – state your message and assume they are hearing, wait five minutes and re state the message or ask for a relay.  DON’T waste airtime. – Weatherman
  • CODE RED.When the channel is CODE RED and you need help, go to a pit club, BFG Relay or the PCI Customer Relay Channel if you are using a PCI Radio. – Weatherman


  • N
  • September 28, 2012
Good Stuff!
  • S
    SCORE 21
  • September 28, 2012
This is a well written Tip Sheet. I've enjoyed the hundreds of hours working for Weatherman ["SCORE 21"] on the Baja 1000 (Peninsula Run) in the airplane and wrote an extensive article about our experiences.

As bilingual interpreter for Bob (and we ALL KNOW Bob has a "colorful" Spanish vocabulary) and back-up for both Weatherman Relay and PCI Customer(s), I would ask everyone to view the airplane as a "flying message delivery office" of sorts.

It is cramped; even in a King Air. We pack few personal items. Radios and electrical resources are priority, so we have to use all safe and reasonable space in order to provide this crucial service. As such, after 36 hours and beyond, the natural high begins to dwindle and we are laboring. Be nice, patient and tolerant; we care about EVERYONE - competitors, their teams, spectators and....

...our "hosts".

During the Ensenada to La Paz; south of Bahia de Los Angeles, the "local" radio traffic actually increases substantially. The reason is necessity - local citizens talk to their loved ones of commercial fishing boats as we enter Guererro Negro; as we approach La Paz we have ladies discussing their grocery lists with neighbors, taxi drivers receive instructions from their dispatcher; as to delivery companies.

We have found "diplomacy" to be the best policy, and treat everyone with dignity and respect. We do this by providing: 1) a solid "time-frame" for our priority needs, 2) why we need priority over their use (emergencies and status reports - that include Mexican riders/drivers), 3) how failure to provide us with some "air time" can prevent injuries and promptly direct resources (first aid, Rescue Units, and 4) how our updates to concerned teams/family members) and have a 90% success rate, so we ask for their cooperation with respect.

Support us so we can better support you.

"Por favor" is better than "Oye cabron!"; in the event a Spanish speaking member of your crew wants to bolster our position and let us not be "exclusive". There exist both Spanish and English broadcasting "Boneheads" - so let's treat them with some respect regardless, for their fellows surrounding them know it could be them next indeed, who suddenly are in desperate need of help.

Que Dios les Bendiga a Todos!