In writing when we want to show the reader that there are radio interferences so some words of the broadcaster are lost, how to write it? What is the classic or the preferable way?

In Russian it's usually just "шшшшш.. шшш" or like that.

I imagine it should be something like:

[Broadcast] "And now we.." Shhhh.. "the.." Shhhh.. "..a happy day."

  • 1
    bzzzz... bzzzz... bzzzz Sep 3, 2018 at 9:04
  • @MichaelHarvey Really? As simple as that? Do it an answer. Sep 3, 2018 at 9:22
  • It would depend on the sound. "Shhh" would represent a white noise sound like people use to tell someone to be quiet. "Bzzz" would represent a buzzing sound. "Crackle" would represent the crackle of static.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 3, 2018 at 9:37
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    Even thought Shhhh may be the most accurate way to write it, I'd avoid that one because it's a commonly-used interjection in English.
    – J.R.
    Sep 3, 2018 at 10:30

3 Answers 3


Answering the question "What is an onomatopoeia for radio static and the blaring noise of a TV?" the top score answerer-2018, a native English speaker from the USA, suggested to write it as "hissss..." or "hiss" for short.

Not having found any other online solution to your question, I would rely either on that answer or on @Michael Harvey's suggestion, depending on whether the sound is being heard as voiced or unvoiced.

  • There are a large number of different types of sound made by radio 'interference' or 'static', depending e.g. on whether the radio channel is AM or FM, and the waveband. What you might hear on shortwave AM would be varied and also wildly different from what you would hear on a local FM station as a car went past. Hisses, buzzes, crackles, pops, whistles, chirps, are all possible. Sep 3, 2018 at 11:32
  • @MichaelHarvey - I agree on the variety of possible noises but the Russian equivalent of what the OP has in his mind (шшшш...) sounds as "shhhh...", which in English would be more appropriate a sound to hush someone. Am I wrong?
    – Victor B.
    Sep 3, 2018 at 12:02
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    "Sh!" or "shhhh!" (often with exclamation mark) might be interpreted as a request to be silent, but context is everything, and I should have thought that it would not tax the powers of a competent writer to make it clear that radio static was intended, and not an exhortation to silence. E.g. Joe tuned in the radio. The news broadcast was faint and partly obscured by hissing static. The announcer sounded grave. "Astronomers sshhh announced sshhh the world ends sssshhh...morrow. We are all sshhh... to die." (Probably best not to overdo the static, so as not to tire the reader). Sep 3, 2018 at 12:46

I think your best bet is to just describe the radio noise, because of these other people have said, it can easily be confused with other things in the English language. I've seen a lot of writers put ellipses in the places where the sounds you are supposed to hear cannot be heard. That seems to work the best.


This is how I've been writing it in my WIP thus far.

They had not been underway long before the walkie-talkie in Mason’s lap started squawking again. Pssssaaat crnkllsht psssshtt… “…almost at the…” psssssshhat.

Mason frowned and picked up the radio. “Say that again, I’m getting a lot of static here.”

Pzzzaat, pssssat… “… about to hit the door! Slow…” …psssaaaaat.

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