Back in the late-sixties, Citizens Band Radio, or CB for short, was becoming a popular form of communication, similar in some ways to current day Instant Messaging and Facebook. It was originally intended to be “the poor man’s business radio.” Radio hobbyists soon discovered that CB was inexpensive and perfect for informal short distance communication and it quickly morphed into a full blown social medium. Fueled by movies such as Smokey and the Bandit, Breaker! Breaker! and Convoy, it gained even more popularity.
Since I love all things radio, I was hooked. My parents got me a CB radio for Christmas and I went on the air December 26, 1968. My hands shook as I made my first attempt to speak with someone. At first, I couldn’t press the transmit button out of fear that I would be labeled a novice or worse, say something really stupid. So, I decided to just listen. After a few hours of channel surfing, I picked up some of the slang and learned proper etiquette inherent to this medium and I went for it. “Breaker, Breaker, channel eleven, does anyone copy?” I got my first reply and from then on CB’ing became a daily part of my life.
Over time, I upgraded my “rig” and installed an outdoor antenna atop the five story apartment building where I lived. This allowed me to chat with even more folks at greater distances. Sometimes, during the summer months, a radio propagation phenomenon known as “Skip” allowed me to contact CB’ers in other states. On occasion, a group of us would meet at a local diner for what CB slang called a “coffee break.” The attendees were from diverse backgrounds and quite interesting. On the air, we used “handles” which were nicknames. My handle was “Invader.” Others in my group of CB friends were “Dondie, Centurion, Cossack Bob, Big Momma, Red Man and Viking.” It was great fun to actually meet the people behind the microphone. I had mental images of what I thought they looked like and my perceptions were way off when we actually met.
As time passed, CB fell out of favor. What was once forty channels crowded with lively conversation became just static. Today, some long haul truckers still use CB radio to break up the monotony of driving endless miles. It was fun while it lasted.