National CB Radio Day
You know when you surf the feeds on your social media and you discover that today is national something day? It feels like every day is national something day, and some have 2-3 lumped into the 24 hours. For example, did you know that October 4th is National Taco, Vodka, and CB Radio day? Why is that date significate for CB radios? Well, check the date… 10-4.
Don’t worry, I felt the same way.
like to assume that most of us have an idea of what a CB radio is but for those that don’t, or just imagine law enforcement and truckers using them, let me explain it in 2018 terms. CB stands for Citizen Ban radio and it was what people used to use before 1990’s chat rooms, and way before the idea of social media was even conceived.
The CB radio peaked in popularity in the 1970’s shortly after the gas crisis at the start of the decade. It became a stable of pop culture in America. Movies were made revolving around this technology. Movies like Convoy, and Smokey and the Bandit that made the late great Burt Reynolds an American legend. Earning him a spot on the Mount Rushmore of coolness alongside Steve McQueen, James Dean, and Paul Newman.
History of the CB Radio
Fun fact, the CB radio was invented by a man named Al Gross who was the same man who invented the walkie-talkie. The CB radio was invented in 1945 and mainly used by small businesses until the FCC saw its potential. It didn’t become an automotive trend until the start of the oil crisis in 1973.
This was also the same time when President Richard Nixon established the national highway speed limit of 55 mph. This was his solution to solving the gas crisis (Didn’t work).
Drivers started using CB radios as a way to communicate and tell each other if a particular gas station still had gasoline or had ran out. As well as warning each other about speed traps on the highway.
Imagine traveling on a road trip and reaching for your mic to ask the anonymous radio waves of the highway if the restaurant at the next rest stop served good food. Or if there was a speed trap a few miles ahead because you’re racing across country doing the Cannonball Run, or U.S. Express, and need Intel on Kojacks with Kodaks (Cops with radar guns).
The FCC, at first, tried to control the radio waves by requiring CB permits. They issued regulations about how high the antenna should be, distance restrictions, and even call sign rules. What did the American people do? They followed the internet troll code. Hide their identity by creating “Handles”. This is the amazing part. At one point the FCC was receiving one million CB permits A MONTH and simply gave up on trying to regulate it. They gave up!
CB Lingo is Way Cooler than Any Modern Day Slang
I stand by that headline, today’s slang is lazy compared to what people blared over their handheld mics in the 70s. Check out this sentence:
“Breaker one-9, this is Cannonball Slim out on route I-10 headed Northbound to H-town. Just Stopped at this Choke-and-puke for some hundred-mile coffee and spotted two full-grown bears. Two Evel Knievels. Y’all Bear baits keep a look out passing mile maker 144. I’ll be 10-10 on the side.”
“Hi this is Greg, I’m on my way to Houston traveling north. I stopped at this truck stop for some strong coffee and saw two state troopers. Two state trooper motorcycle cops. All you speeders watch out if you’re near mile 144!”
Modern CB radios are still being used by Truckers and some, if not all, the lingo is still being used by gear jammer vets and nostalgia rookies.
I would have written this article on the 4th but I found out about National CB Radio day on October 4th, at 11:42 pm. Only because I was listening to 70s on 7 satellite radio and they were having a Smokey and the Bandit CB tribute to Burt Reynolds. Being a massive Reynolds fan made me sit down to write this when I got home. CB radios may be antique tech to many but it shouldn’t be forgotten. It is an interesting part of American culture, and like Mr. Burt Reynolds, it made a significate impact on the 1970’s that continues to this every day.