The CB Radio, a Relic of the Past, is Alive & Well

By Eric G. Braun, Senior Writer, US Road Warriors

The Professional Driver or Trucker (your choice) has seen so many things come and go over the years, between the way trucks are built, companies, their policies and procedures and the daunting reminder that big brother is in the cab with us.

But there is one relic that has stood the test of time, and no were not talking about that seniority driver that has been around since the invention of the wheel and does not let you forget it either. I’m talking about that old form of social networking before cellphones, electronics and Facebook.

Yup, you guessed it, the Citizens Band Radio affectionally know as the CB.

You salty folks let the millennials know what that is.

The CB Radio made its debut in the late 1940’s, although its height of popularity began in the early 1970s. Typically used by business to communicate with local drivers, the fad caught onto main stream America, and before you know it, people had base stations in their homes and portable units in their car, and the airwaves were never the same.

For those of you old enough, do you remember those whip antennas that looked particularly stupid on a Ford Pinto, with the drivers calls signs lettered on the back window?

Professional Drivers, called “truckers” back then, used the system to communicate with each other, notifying each other of gas availability during a national gas crisis in the early 70’s.  Some even used it to start convoys and organize blockades to protest various changes like the new speed limit and other imposing trucking regulations. That new speed limit did not sit well with independents, many of which were paid by the mile and not the time involved. The CB became part of Americana, showing up in movies Like “Smokey & The Bandit”, "Convoy", "Dukes of Hazard” and of course the infamous song; Convoy, by CW McCall.

And the CB was an easy way to flirt and pass time anonymously.

Then came the embarrassing public takeover of the system, with private owners coming up with their own “handles”, code word for cute nicknames or pet names for one another. Even First lady Betty Ford had her own handle and that was “First Mama” …. yup, stills sound uncomfortable even over 40 years later.   (In the interest of full disclosure, my handle was “Sly Fox”)

Naturally, since the public got ahold of it, regulation and compliance was thrown out the window, and antenna sizes and heights, licensing and transmitter power went unchecked.

The Federal Communications Commission, did its best to put governmental control on the industry, but did so with little success.

Though social media networks in our current world have antiquated the need for CB Radios, they have gone back to the initial use of truckers who use them daily to communicate with other drivers about road conditions, weather, and yes, even where those “Smokey’s” are.

Time to fess up, Road Warriors, we know you have one in your rig, and we know you do use it, so fill us in, what’s your “handle"?

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