Monday, September 14, 2009


I just watched a show on BBC America “MI-5”, its a drama that follows a team at MI-5. Good drama, excellent stories. Just now one of the operatives was on the radio and ended the transmission with “Roger, Over and Out”.

Really? REALLY? You know, when you say something stupid, somewhere a baby gets punched in the face, so smarten up.

In radio communications the goal is brevity, conservation of bandwidth. The FCC requires that communications be done at the lowest possible power level and the lowest possible bandwidth needed to complete the contact. Yes, you may be licensed to operate at 100 watts, but if you can make the contact at 1, you should. Yes, you can transmit that telefax at 9600 baud, but in some bands you are restricted to 2400 baud. Its good radio practice and helps keep the airways clear. This tends to create terse radio operators. So, saying “over and out” is too wordy, but its also incomprehensible. “Over” means “I am done transmitting, awaiting reply” and “Out” means “I am done transmitting, ending conversation.” So “Over and Out” means, literally “I am done transmitting, awaiting reply. Done transmitting, conversation over.” So which is it? Are you standing by or ending the communication?

And just for completeness… “Roger Wilco” is redundant. “Roger” means “affirmative”. Wilco is a military term that is derived from “Will Comply”. So yes, you can say “Roger Wilco”, but its redundant', either “Roger” or “Wilco” will suffice. Although it COULD be argued that “Roger Wilco” can be translated as “Copy, Wilco”. But again, would you comply if you did not copy the message? I would hope not, therefore “Wilco” is fine. BUT, “Roger Wilco, Over and Out” is right out.

-- PaulC, over.