For Thanksgiving, I changed the courtesy beep to a turkey noise on my repeater/node. Some other people did it so I thought it was fine. Someone however told me that it did not follow part 97 FCC. Is this true?


3 Answers 3


I can find no regulations on courtesy tones whatsoever in part 97, nor any prohibition on transmission of animal noises or having fun. Maybe there's a rule that could be construed... Nope. I got nothing.

  • $\begingroup$ I got a call today and He claimed that it did not follow 97.113 because he didn't know that it was a courtesy beep and said it could be something hiding the meaning of the message. " If you want to do that, go to CB radio. We amateurs are better and that is not good ham radio edicate" $\endgroup$
    – Skyler 440
    Nov 28, 2014 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Skyler440 ah yes, the oft-cited FCC rule against avian steganography. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ Play a normal tone after the turkey $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2014 at 5:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm encouraged that Part 97 doesn't specifically prohibit having fun. $\endgroup$
    – gbarry
    Nov 29, 2014 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ While it's true that your turkey call could have a hidden message (like "It's Thanksgiving!"), you can't prohibit everything that might have a hidden message since even normal speech could have a hidden message. "Hey, I'm coming over there at 4:20 to relax with you" could easily be hiding a message about illegal drug use. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Dec 4, 2014 at 0:56

Imagine you are working at FCC HQ.

The FCC receives 1000s of complaints each day, such as:

  • too much profanity on television
  • firefighters' repeater is being jammed by some weirdo named Big Jack
  • truck stop sells monster CB amps
  • talk radio has too many republicans/democrats
  • internet should/shouldn't be regulated
  • big media company wants to buy all the little media companies
  • ham wants morse code to be required again
  • smugglers are using GMRS channel Z84 along the border
  • brazilians pirates have hacked milcom satellite uplinks
  • university jams students' cell phones so they won't ring in class

Only some of these fall within the jurisdiction of the FCC, and their power to do anything about it.

Is "turkey call courtesy beep" going to make the cut on this list?

I don't think so, as it is a trivial matter that harms no one and doesn't indicate a serious violation of the regulations. Even if it were technically a violation of some rule when twisted sufficiently, I doubt it even merits a warning letter.

But don't take my word for it.

You can search past FCC enforcement actions to find out.


I think 97.133(b) speaks to this really. "An amateur station shall not engage in any form of broadcasting, nor may an amateur station transmit one-way communications..."

Broadcasting is loosely defined as something for the benefit or entertainment of the listening audience and not a two way communication.

It is ambiguous to say the least, but I probably wouldn't play the turkey call to be safe. Just my opinion of how I read it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Broadcast is defined in the definitions chapter of Part 97 as (10) Broadcasting. Transmissions intended for reception by the general public, either direct or relayed.. I don't think a relay courtesy sound (even if it's a turkey call) would fall under this definition, since it serves a functional use to the amateur community and is not meant to entertain (or even be heard) by the general public. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Dec 16, 2014 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. I can't totally disagree. The whole thing is ambiguous at best. It is that reason I would opt NOT to do it on my repeater. That and it reminds be of the foolishness on Chicken Band. We, as hams, are called upon to be the gentlemen and ladies of the airwaves. Which says to me to avoid childishness like turkey calls. $\endgroup$
    – KV5SIX
    Dec 17, 2014 at 20:36

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