Roger Beep – useful tool or annoying toy?

Some people hate it, others love it. It’s the short little tone you hear when someone un-keys their radio and although it’s a simple little noise it can create some very strong feelings.

The roger beep has been around for a long time in different forms but it wasn’t really until the additions of the export radios did the feature become so prevalent in the hobby. It now is a feature that many people expect to find on a higher end radio even if it’s something they don’t intend to use.

Before we get into the pros and cons of the roger beep maybe we should talk about it’s intended use and function.

Simply put the roger beep is a tone that sounds when a radio operator un-keys their microphone. The tone can be short, long, or even a combo of multiple tones. The intention of the roger beep is to let the other operator in the conversation and any other people on the radio know when the person talking is finished and is no longer on the key.

In many cases when the radio is very quiet and there are only two people on the channel than the use of the roger beep is not really necessary as both parties will be able to hear the other person un-key and can tell if they watch their meter that the signal has stopped being transmitted. But in cases when a station is barely audible in the distance and it’s difficult to determine when they have finished talking the roger beep will often give a tone louder than there voice signal so that it’s very clear they are off of the key.

In reality the roger beep can be a very useful function, but there are many people out there who would be happy to never hear one again. That opinion has been generated most likely by the general overuse of the roger beep in situations where it is not necessary.

For example – when two people live in the same town and are not more than 2 miles from each other and both are running with their roger beeps on for over an hour while they key and un-key the tones can become seriously annoying. They is no need for them to be on and it really is just a frivolous use of the function.

Another example are the roger beeps that are unduly long or have the multiple tones (a.k.a the 5 tone roger beep). These roger beeps have been modified to the point where they are more like noise toys than roger beeps, ruining the intended purpose.

It’s sad that the over use of the roger beep has led people to dislike even hearing the sound of one. I say this because when talking skip, especially on SSB when the other station is very far away and is not giving a strong signal the roger beep really can come in handy.

When living in Hawaii I found this to be true, especially when talking with Australia or many of the Pacific Islands. Often the stations would un-key and without a roger beep I found myself waiting a longer period of time before responding and in many cases as skip faded in and out we would be talking at the same time. When a station was using a roger beep it was always much easier to tell when they had un-keyed and it helped the conversation move along more smoothly.

Roger beeps are not for everyone, and I personally have encountered a number of people who complain about their use or will tell you to turn it off. But I do believe that they can be useful and serve a purpose in the CB radio realm. The key really is in respecting the roger beep and not to use it as a toy.