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Use of Prowords: NUMBER, BREAK, END, and ROGER

posted Feb 13, 2016, 3:03 PM by C. Matthew Curtin
Listeners to formal radio transmissions such as those on National Traffic System nets like COTN will hear words that come up routinely on the net but different from everyday speech. Words like NUMBER, BREAK, END, and ROGER are among them—they are known as prowords, words that have particular meaning. We will discuss these four briefly as we did on last night's net.

NUMBER. This indicates that the listener is to start copying traffic. If I have a radiogram number 123 and am delivering that to station W1AW, the sequence is straightforward.
W1AW: Kilo Delta Eight Tango Tango Echo, this is Whiskey One Alfa Whiskey, ready to copy.
KD8TTE: Number one two three ...

If we do not have a formal way for the receiving station to know that the sending station is starting the transmission we might not be able to tell when the sending station is talking about the traffic or is in fact sending the traffic itself. Assuming that we can just "listen" and figure it out works in regular daily speech but not in a formal net, where premium is placed on tight transmissions that reduce the amount of airtime to the minimum needed to get the job done, and to work even when band conditions are uncooperative.

Incidentally this is also the reason that when we want the receiving station to write 7 instead of SEVEN, we say "figure seven." Were we to say "number seven," the receiving station might question whether a new message is starting.

BREAK. This proword indicates a halt in transmission while the sending station is not giving up control of the frequency. This happens when a transmission is long and the sending station wants to stop and listen to be sure that no one needs the frequency for an emergency, or that there is a priority interruption of the traffic being delivered. We use it in NTS specifically to indicate where the radiogram text starts and ends, i.e., we say BREAK after the addressee but before text, and again after text but before signature.

END. When reaching the end of a message, a relay station will use the word END to tell the receiving station that the transmission has completed, rather than having been interrupted, or lost due to a fading signal. The receiving station need only to hear END after signature to know that the radiogram has been received in its entirety.

ROGER. This is another word that has a particular meaning that is often lost on inexperienced operators. ROGER means that the receiving station receives the transmission and understands it. ROGER is not "radio-speak" for "yes." It means literally "I receive the transmission correctly." On NTS the receiving station upon hearing the sending station say END will confirm that the check matches in the text of the message, and that all parts of the radiogram were received properly. If so, the receiving station will reply ROGER. On many NTS nets including COTN, ROGER is followed by the message number, e.g.,
ROGER one two three.

Our Methods, Procedures, and Guidelines for NTS nets in chapter 2 for sending messages on voice, goes into some detail in the section "PROWORDS, OPERATIONAL WORDS."