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What are some ways to tell that two people are talking over the same radio frequency?

"HQ, do you copy?" said John.

"Dark Saber, I copy." said Matthews over the radio.

"It's Deadly Dagger, not Dark Saber." corrected Karen as she was overheard over the same radio frequency.

"You too need to stop!" said Alex, overheard.

"Dark Saber, just proceed as usual." said Jeffrey, the Commander over the radio.

I am asking, because it can get really messy, and can become a messy problem. Is there a way to do this? What are some approaches used for these kinds of situation?

3 Answers 3

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You can do it like this:

"HQ, do you copy?" said John to Matthews and Karen.

Matthews: "Dark Saber, I copy."

Karen: "It's Deadly Dagger, not Dark Saber."

Alex: "You too need to stop!" said Alex, overheard.

Commander Jeffrey: "Dark Saber, just proceed as usual."

Of course, this isn't the best format, so I would be careful not to overdo it like this, but it should work for the most part.

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There's no reason to mention it at all - if everyone speaking can hear each other then they're using the same frequency/channel. That's pretty much how radios work and its largely common knowledge.

Pretty much the only time it warrants a mention is if you're trying to show people having a conversation over a different frequency to exclude certain people, someone's on the wrong frequency, or your having characters switch to one listen in on someone else's.

For describing normal routine conversation just ignore it.

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[Hey you] [It's Me] [Message]

When people speak over a common comms channel, they often follow the "Hey-you, it's-me" format.

Conn, Sonar, Crazy Ivan!

This line, from The Hunt for Red October, really means:

Hey Control Room, this is the Sonar Operator. The Russia Submarine is doing a Crazy Ivan Maneuver!

But it has been shortened to just the essentials.

Star Trek often used the same idea, but with a different order and the keyword "to" to give sender / receiver information.

[Riker] Riker to Picard.

[Picard] Go Ahead Number One.

[Riker] [Message]

Tone, Facial Expressions, and Actions

Most communication is not in the dialog - it's in the tone, facial expression, etc. that accompanies the dialog. Much of that is lost over radio, but there is still some ability to influence the message.

So if Karen is supposed to be mocking John, I might try something like this:

Karen's radio squawked to life. HQ, this is Dark Sabre, how copy? Over.

The tower operator didn't miss a beat. Dark Sabre, this is HQ, you're loud and clear.

Karen smirked as she keyed her mic. Dinky Dagger, she drawled out the words, emphasizing them. This is Mama Bear. Did you change your callsign?

She put a sugary sweet tone on the question, feigning naivete hard enough that the mockery came through even across the static of a radio link.

She didn't get to revel in her little jab very long, though.

All Stations, this is HQ Actual. The Commander's voice was hard as a cliff face. Bicker on your own time.

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