Tuesday, October 04, 2016

10-4 is national CB day, who would have guessed it would still be used during the internet and skype era

President Carter designated October (10th month) 4th as National Citizens Band day back in 1978.

First Lady Betty Ford was also reportedly an avid CB radio operator. Her CB "handle" was "First Mama".

Before Citizens' Band was created, you needed a license to be on the air, with almost no exceptions. Radio was seen as Serious Technology For Serious People, nothing for normal folks to fool around with, at least not without government approval.

Citizens' Band put an end to that, not by regulatory design but by popular fiat. Originally, a license was required for Citizens' Band, too, but masses of people simply broke the law and operated without a license until the FCC was forced to bow to reality.

 It was a form of mass civil disobedience that accomplished in its sphere what drug-legalization activists have never been able to accomplish in theirs.

And it didn't stop there. Citizens' Band radio became popular because of widespread resistance to another example of regulatory overreach: the unpopular 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war," speed limits were for the first time set not for reasons of safety, but for reasons of politics and social engineering. Americans rejected that approach in massive numbers, and entered into a state of more-or-less open rebellion. CB was valuable -- as songs like Convoy! and movies like Smokey and the Bandit illustrated -- because it allowed citizens to spontaneously organize against what they saw as illegitimate authority.

And it worked: the 55 mile per hour speed limit was repealed. That (plus the gradual introduction of cheap and effective radar detectors, which allowed citizens to watch for speed traps while still listening to their car stereos) gradually ended the Citizens Band revolution.



  1. In the '70's I was driving 50,000 plus miles per year, a true "road warrior"! Since I worked for a car company I was switching into a new car every 5,000 miles so a CB with a cigarette lighter plug for power and a magnetic antenna was standard equipment. Constant updates on locations of "bears" by mile marker were normal and well appreciated.

    Wonder how many people today remember the Monfort meat trucks out of Colorado. Source of the CB term "Montfort lane". They ran across Indiana and Ohio at 80 to 90 MPH with a "convoy" of 18 and 4 wheelers strung out behind them. Do a Google search for "Monfort Lane".

  2. Breaker Breaker, jivin Jesse got ya ears on?

    1. not at 230 in the morning!

  3. Replies
    1. uh huh... says you. I did the all nighters back when I had to, but I'm not in the military any more, nor on late shift and up til 4 in the morning... and I'm not lucky enough to be in Australian time zones!

  4. A guy I used to work with always called October 4 Broderick Crawford Day, because in the old Highway Patrol TV show, his character always says "10-4".