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Who is this Roger guy? And why do we keep talking about him?


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Back in the olden days, when sparks flew across gaps, a successful radio communication was a pretty tough thing to accomplish.  Morse code operators soon realized that abbreviated transmissions were key (pun intended).  So, in order to acknowledge successful receipt of a transmission, the receiving station would send "RECEIVED," letting the sending station know that things were working well.  "RECEIVED" was cumbersome so it was shortened to "RCVD," which still seemed clunky so it was shortened to"R."

When the microphone was invented, and telephony developed, it became obvious early on that many letters sounded the same on the air, so a phonetic alphabet was invented to make clear which letter was being used.   The phonetic alphabet in use was based on male names and "Roger" was the term for the letter "R."  So, "Roger" became synonymous with "I acknowledge receipt of your last transmission."

By the way, notice that "R" (Roger) does not mean "Yes."  It is not an assent, nor does it mean, "I concur."  It is not an answer to a question.  In other words, you should never, ever hear a ham say, "Roger, roger.  I did not copy your name.  Please repeat."

Eventually, the phonetic alphabet changed to the one we use today, but the term "Roger" was so ingrained that it stuck.  And that, I think, is a good thing.  Somehow, hearing a ham say, "Romeo that, and thank you for the contact" just doesn't seem right.  


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I did not know which emoji to use... Decided on the laugh but it's also pretty info-rich. I admit, I did not know this story. Something tells me, in the recesses of my aging brain, that I had heard a different story about 'Roger' but because I can't remember it, I will assume it was this one and go with it!

Roger that?

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