The 70′s spawned the Citizen Band radio craze. Can you give me a little more detail?

From Tony C - The 70′s spawned the Citizen Band radio craze. Can you give me a little more detail?

MrPopHistory – Citizen Band or CB radio had been around since the late 40′s. Through the late 60′s, it was primarily used by businesses to communicate between a base and mobile units. Somehow, hobbyists picked-up on the service. It was just plain easier to get a CB license. You just filled out an application and mailed-in your fee to the FCC. In 1971, that fee was $20. Unlike Ham radio, there were no technical exams to take.

Courier Royale

Courier Royale

With more baby boomers getting walkie-talkies – these same channels were shared with Citizen’s Band. It was cool to all-of-a-sudden, go from a one-channel walkie talkie with 1/10th of a watt to a 23-channel CB radio with 5 watts. Put up a ground plane or Astro Plane antenna and boy, could you really get out. All of a sudden, non-tech types were talking tech – antennas with 3db gain or an SWR of 1.1 -language once confined to ham radio aficionados. This all took place in the early 70′s.

Lafayette Comstat

Lafayette Comstat

Some of the more popular CB-makes were Lafayette, Courier and Cobra. Some of these home-base CB radios were works of art. My favorite is the Courier Royale – a 23-channel tube rig. It just looks great and boy, did it perform. I also loved the simple design of the Lafayette Comstat 25B – in beautiful midnight black. Turn it on and the S-meter (signal strength meter) lit-up in several colors.

The big thing was signal strength. You basically looked at the rig’s S-meter while you were talking or receiving. CB’ers loved hearing – “you’re hitting me with a 10″ or “your pinning the needle.” A (3) on the S-meter was lousy. A (1) meant you were in the noise. You prided yourself on how good your transmission was or how “you were getting out.” You just hated your friend, who was on a hill and higher than you. He could “get out better.”

CB handles could get creative. You never used your full name: either a first name or one of these handles, as long as you didn’t copy someone else. “Yea Pink Panther this is the Bull Shipper.”

Around 1974, truckers (all-of-a-sudden) become well-known for their CB radios. Country music radio stations began playing songs with CB mentions. Who could forget Cledus Maggard and the Citizen’s Band. “Convoy” by C.W. McCall was the biggest of these records. Truckers and CB radios became synonymous in television shows as well. CB-trucker lingo was “in.” “10-4 good buddy,” “There’s a bear on my tail.”

With all of this popularity came more interference. It seemed that the 23-channel CB needed extending. Obliging, the FCC gave its citizens 17 more channels and by the late 70′s, the 23 channel CB radios gave way to 40 channels.

Sometimes it wasn’t all “good buddy.” I recall a story in Dallas where two CB’ers kept interfering and stepping on each other while they transmitted. They dared each other to meet. They did and when it was over, both were shot and one died.