About forty years ago, the trucking song “Convoy” which was sung by an American singer “CW McCall” listed the United Kingdom single charts, come to a head at number two. It actually was not one of pop music’s extreme flash but the song, was packed in CB terms and allusions. Sparked a United Kingdom trend, hot on the heels of the one that had swept the United States in the early 1970s.
In old days, Cell phones were like the castle in the air for everyone. At that time, Citizens Band (CB) radio was the two-way radio with low power pre-owned by the American public. At the beginning, CB Radios had been worn by US military, troops and emergency services. Then after some time, these CB Radios were pre-owned by truck drivers. Truck drivers were using them to inform each other about speed traps.
Exchange instructions and chatting with each other was done by truckers on the road conditions and traps. CB operators select nicknames known as “HANDLES” for use on the air. Later, DJs Dave Lee and Paul Burnett in the UK released a flim-flam form of CW McCall’s “CONVOY” in 1976.
When did Citizens Band radios become popular?
About CB radio popularity John Hughes, who studied Marine Biology & History at the University of Massachusetts in Boston says:
As others have said, CB radios have been popular for many years.
However, the movie Smokey and the Bandit really introduced the non-user to the citizen band radio and ownership exploded. Here were a means to communicate on the road when cellular phones were nearly unknown to those without great wealth.
I purchased my own radio at a Flea Market in the early eighties. By that time, the license requirement was lifted and everyone that wanted to own a CB could do so freely.
David Ecale’s answer also makes sense in the fact that people were used to traveling the highways at certain speeds. And truck drivers will tell you that time is money. So if they could drive faster to their destination, the possibility to carry more freight back and forth was also a possibility.
This means greater profit.”
According to David Ecale, Who have read a lot of History and his specialty is WW1, says that:
CB’s have been around since the dawn of Radio. They were formalized when the radio spectrums & power levels were regulated. (The first US radio regulations were, if I remember correctly, formulated in the Telecommunications Act of 1917.)
However, the civilian use of CBs exploded in the early ’70s when Richard Nixon lowered Highway speeds from 70 ~ 75 MPH to 55 MPH (ostensibly to save on fuel after the Arab Oil Embargo). The CBs were used by truckers & auto drivers to communicate in order to avoid the traffic stops and speeding tickets!
- Channels were expanded from 25 to 40 & the power levels were reduced (by law).
- Channel 9 is an emergency channel & channel 19 is the common highway communications channel.
- CB’s declined in use as highway speeds were gradually increased back to the design speeds of the highways some years later.
- Virtually all commercial trucks today still use CBs for communications and there are many truck stops with a wall of CB equipment & accessories for sale today.
The CB Radio craze was still alive in 1990 and 2000. Glancing back at CB’s peak days, According to an old trucker.
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By communicating with other drivers on the main channel, 39, I got to hear about road closures, police speed traps, and any major hold-ups.
If you were driving down the A1 and came across an accident, you could get on your radio and warn other drivers.
As the song of CW McCall affirmed in 1976 “Looks like we got us a convoy.”
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