Massaging Your Message #1

Here's a brief description of the parts of a radiogram preamble. It's intended for those new to traffic handling as well as a quick review for those active in the NTS. Feel free to copy and pass this along to your technician classes. In fact, if you'd like a class or club presentation "live and in person" (as opposed to what?), let me know and I'll check my schedule.

When sending a formal radiogram, we begin with the preamble, that is the part of the message that is not the message but helps tremendously in its accurate delivery. The preamble includes a message number, precedence, handling instructions, station of origin, check, place of origin, time, and date.

The message number is assigned by the station of origin, the one who prepARES® and sends the message for the first time. An operator can begin with number one at the first of the year, the first of the month, or at any time it's convenient. The important part of the numbering is to keep it sequential and keep track. Recently, some operators have chosen to number with decimals, dashes, or letters included. Although this may be an easy system for an originating station, it could lead to some troubles with traffic in the NTS if relaying stations don't pay very close attention. For example, what on voice might be said as, "Number one decimal one. Routine." On CW, would sound like 1R1R and could be confusing since the receiving station might interpret it as a repeat of the number and precedence instead of just the message number. Perhaps it is best to keep it simple, if you can.

The precedence, helps the message along the way. Of course, if it's an EMERGENCY precedence (always spelled out, not abbreviated), the message will be handled expeditiously on every net, cleared first and with all possible speed. If the message is of Inquiry or Welfare precedence, it will be handled before those that are Routine. The decision about a message's precedence is the originating station's. Of course, the operator may be told what precedence to use by an official or agency sending the message. Under normal circumstances, almost all messages are classified as Routine.

Handling instructions are intended for the delivering station. They're optional, but helpful. They range from HXA (Collect landline authorized by addressee within …….miles) to HXG (If toll or expense is involved, cancel message and service originating station). Check your FSD-218 (the famous pink card) for the whole list.

Next, in the preamble, is the call of the originating station. If you are preparing the message for its first transmission, that's your callsign. Following the call is the check, the number of words or groups in the text - just the text, not the addressee, address, signature, or anything else. An easy way to keep track of the number of words is to write the text with five words per line and count the lines. It works.

The place of origin is the location from which the message comes - not necessarily the same as your QTH. For example, if I receive a message for Whitewater, deliver it, and get a reply, the place of origin for my return message is Whitewater - even though I'm in Fort Atkinson. If Don, W9IXG, asks me to send a message on his behalf, the place of origin is Madison (his QTH), even though the message will first be sent from my shack.

The time may be included in the precedence if it's important. It's likely to be there in disaster and welfare traffic, not likely for routine traffic. The date is when the message is written - even if it isn’t sent that day. It will match with any time given. And that's what I'm out of for this month's report.

73 - Denny, K9LGU / STM