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CB Radio

Citizens Band Radio had been around for years, but few people knew about them. 23 channels of two-way communication, frequented by curious techno-geeks, lost hikers and truckers.

The trucker was his own boss. The trucker was King of the Road – or so the myth went.

The only way these men stood a chance of getting ahead was to drive as fast as their heart rates – which given the widespread amphetamine abuse at the time amongst truckers, was pretty bloody fast.

When the media made it known that truckers routinely used CB radio to get around the speed limit, the public went wild for the things.

While only one million people had obtained CB licenses in the USA between 1958 and 1973, more than two million licenses were issued in 1974 alone.

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Soon every freeway driver had to have one, and everyone was on the prowl for ‘Smokey”.

A lot of fun was to be had in ripping off ‘the man’ and driving as fast as you jolly well liked. But there was also tremendous appeal in talking that crazy trucker talk.

Phrases like “breaker breaker” and “that’s a big 10-4 good buddy” crept into conversations, and people who should have known better began swapping their CB names, or ‘handles’.

Betty Ford even had one – “First Mama”. Americans everywhere demonstrated their talent for talking a lot and saying very little.

Eventually, there were so many idiots fouling the airwaves that more channels were needed and the 40 channel models were released. CB songs rode high in the charts and trucker films and television shows fuelled the global fantasy, led by the flagship of all trucker flicks, Convoy (1978).

By 1980 the fad had died. People simply grew tired of tuning into tedious trivial talk. Nobody wants to interact when there is no action . . .

CB Speak

  • At Your Back Door – Behind a truck. “You got a bear at your back door.”  Ant. front door: front of a truck.
  • Bambi – A deer, whether dead or alive.
  • Bear/Smokey – A county or state cop.
  • Bear In The Air – A police airplane that monitors highway speeds below.
  • Bobtail – Running without a trailer.
  • Bulldog – A Mack truck.
  • Bumper Sticker – An automobile following you too closely.
  • Cash Register – A toll booth. “You’re coming up on a cash register at yardstick 154.”
  • City Kitty – A female city police officer.
  • Comedian – The median strip.
  • Got your ears on? – Used when looking for someone on the CB.
  • Granny Lane – The slow lane on a highway or freeway.
  • Gumball Machine – Lights on top of a police vehicle. “He’s got his gumball machine going.”
  • Hammer Down – Go fast, step on it.
  • Hammer Lane – The fast, passing lane on a highway or freeway.
  • Kojak with a Kodak – A police officer with a radar gun.
  • Meat Wagon – Ambulance.
  • Plain White Wrapper – An unmarked police car.
  • Reefer – A refrigerated cargo trailer.
  • Road Pizza – Badly mangled road kill.
  • Roller Skate – Any small car. Originally referred to a Volkswagen.
  • Sesame Street – CB channel 19. Named so because of child-like behaviour that sometimes occurs. Especially around urban areas.
  • Skateboard – A flatbed trailer.
  • Skins – Tyres
  • Yardstick – A mile marker alongside a highway.

CB Codes

  • CQ – General Call
  • QRT – Stop sending
  • QTA – Cancel message
  • QTH – Location
  • QRZ – Who is calling?
  • QTR – Exact time
  • 10-1 – Receiving poorly
  • 10-2 – Receiving well
  • 10-3 – Stop transmitting
  • 10-6 – Busy, stand by
  • 10-7 – Out of service, leaving air
  • 10-10 – Transmission completed
  • 10-11 – Talking too rapidly
  • 10-13 – Advise Weather/Road conditions
  • 10-17 – Urgent business
  • 10-20 – My location is . . .
  • 10-23 – Stand by
  • 10-26 – Disregard last information
  • 10-27 – I am moving to channel . . .
  • 10-28 – Identify your station
  • 10-33 – Emergency Traffic
  • 10-35 – Confidential information
  • 10-36 – Correct time
  • 10-38 – Ambulance needed
  • 10-42 – Traffic accident
  • 10-44 – I have a message for you
  • 10-62 – Unable to copy, use phone
  • 10-70 – Fire
  • 10-99 – Mission completed, all units secure
  • 10-200 – Police needed