Encyclopedia Article


In Hillerman's Navajo detective fiction, "radioman" is an anachronistic reference to what are today known as dispatchers, individuals who work in a dispatch center to facilitate the transmission and tracking of information, often but not always during emergency responses to traffic accidents, natural disasters, and civil disturbances. Radiomen have a military origin that goes back to before World War I, when radio units consisted of "pack sets," which were so large that 10 men were needed to set-up and operate the equipment that was transported by 4 pack mules around the field of action. Over time, Radioman became a naval designation that was eventually merged with that of the Data Processing Technician, and eventually became the Information Systems Technician. Regardless of their title, the individuals who fill these positions are responsible for facilitating communication and, in the process, coordinating operations under the purview of their parent agency.

Photo Credit: 

"911 dispatch desk, June 4, 2009" by ICMA Photos is licensed under CC BY-SA.