I have some very "beginner" type questions about radio/police scanners

Hey guys,

First time to the forum and kind of the first time exploring two way radio’sand such. but I had a couple questions regarding two way radio’s and police scanners and thought the experts of a forum could help.

Being a beginner, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a radio. So, after a few hours of research, I picked up the Baofeng BF-F8HP tri-power radio off Amazon for $65 or so.

I set it up and programmed it to my local police frequencies, as well as all of the GMRS/FRS frequencies so I can pair it with my other walkie-talkies and the NOAA frequencies.

I do a lot of outdoorsy type stuff (four wheeling, camping, etc…) and have wanted to get a portable ham radio and a license soon in case of an emergency as well as have the NOAA stations handy. Up to this point, the Baofeng does everything I want it to.

But I also wanted to have it dual as a police scanner and such. After I programmed my local frequencies, I turned it on and got nothing… My boss used to work for the Houghton, Police station and said that dispatch send hourly check-ins on the local police. Ive had it on for three days straight and haven’t heard a thing. I am only a few miles from the police station.

The problem is, according to this website (using 49931, Houghton, MI):


It says I need a digital scanner… right? The picture attached is of the website.

Now keep in mind I am an absolute beginner so please forgive me for my arrogance, but here are the questions that I have…


  • Am I correct to assume that, if the website is correct, that I need to have a digital police scanner to listen to local and state police?
  • Am I correct in saying that the Baofend BF-F8HP is an Analog radio and that is why I can’t hear local dispatch?
  • Are digital radio’s much more expensive than Analog radios?
  • Is there such thing as a two way radio that is both Analog and Digital? It seems strange that I would need two separate radios, one for police scanning, and one for everything else, but I can’t find any single radio that does both. (Sorry if this is an obvious No)
  • What is truncating?

Thanks for all and any help. I’m just trying to figure it all out and with so much information, it’s hard to come up with questions or phrases to research exactly what I want to know.


Trunking is a way that many public service agencies can share only a few frequencies. Basically, even with a limited number of frequencies, each frequency is not busy all the time. Each agency has their radios programmed into their own “talk group.” When a police unit, for example, calls dispatch, the radio sends out a call to the controller channel, and the controller channel finds a free frequency and switches the call to that frequency. Once the conversation is over, the frequency is clear for any other trunked user. This is how hundreds of agencies don’t need hundreds of dedicated channels.

Trunked radios aren’t always digital. Many of them are analog. But you WILL need a scanner that has the ability to picked up trunked frequencies. (It will find the control channel and “follow” a transmission for a particular talk group such as your local police agency from frequency to frequency.)

Some trunked radios are now digital too. Yes, you would need a separate scanner that can also pick up digital trunked transmissions. (Not all can.)

I don’t know of any amateur radios that will pick up trunked frequencies or digital frequencies. That is not what they are designed to do. They are designed to receive and transmit on amateur radio (HAM) bands. Many of them can be programmed to also receive and transmit outside their bands, such as business frequencies, marine bands, MURS, FRS or GMRS frequencies, but that is illegal unless the radio is certified for such usage. Users do so at their own risk.

By the way, amateur radios make very poor scanners. Their scan rate is very slow compared to a dedicated scanner. You are just asking an amateur radio to do something it is not designed to do, and will do very poorly, if at all. Get a dedicated scanner. If you want to take that up for a hobby or enjoyment, there is a LOT of information out there about scanners.

Since you posted about trunked radios and asked about truncating, I gather you wanted to know about both, because trunking and truncating are two different things.

Trunking is a system that uses a pool of frequencies to share a minimum number of channels between a large number of users. Trunking is commonly used for two-way radio communications by government agencies, municipalities and emergency response services who share the same frequency spectrum. Users are assigned to “talkgroups” instead of individual frequencies. Trunking allows the available channels and bandwidth to be managed more effectively.

Truncating means to shorten or cut off, as in truncating a written word, sentence or description for brevity. For example, the definition of Trunking, above, could probably be truncated.