Going to town

We transmit city names without introduction. Unless the city is well known, we then say, “I spell,” followed by the city phonetically. We say the state name in full, even if it is abbreviated in the radiogram (as it usually is). We introduce ZIP codes with the word, “figures” (not, “ZIP figures”) and then transmit them one digit at a time. There’s a special rule for nine-digit ZIP codes and I admit it’s a bit weird. A ZIP code of 21200-1234 would sound like this: “Figures two one two zero zero, dash, I spell delta alpha Sierra hotel one two three four.” Why do we spell out the dash? Beats me, but that’s what it says in the official NTS guidelines. Fortunately, radiograms rarely have nine-digit ZIP codes! A typical city line would sound like, “Burket, I spell, bravo uniform Romeo kilo echo tango, Indiana, figures four six five zero eight.” Next week: telephone numbers.

(This is the 11th in a series of short traffic-handling columns I submitted to the Kosciusko County ARES newsletter.)