Possibly you have never heard the name “Ewell. K. Jett,” but without his dynamic foresight, you quite possibly might not have a CB service today.
Who was this man, what part did he play in the formation of the CB service, and what did he have to say about the status of the service?
The Late Mr. Jett, who was, up until the time of his death on April 28, 1965, the Vice President and Director of a television station WMAR-TV in Baltimore, Md, was once kind enough to give his cooperation in the preparation of this material.
Before we look into the actual work behind the CB service, let’s take a look at the man himself and see the background events which molded his opinions and helped with this idea on two-way radios.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Jett entered the U.S Naval Service in June 1911, as a telegraph operator and as a radioman on board the battleships UTAH and MICHIGAN and the destroyer PARKER. From 1916, until World War 1 he was assigned to the Navy’s first remote control station in Washington.
During this period the station conducted the first experimental tests in radiotelephony employing a vacuum tube transmitter with stations in Panama, California, Hawaii and the Eifel Tower in Paris.
When the war broke out he was assigned as a radio officer on board Vice Admiral Cleaves’ flagship SEATTLE and also on the battleship GEORGIA.
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After the war he was given a permanent commission in the Navy and served in the following capacities: Radio Officer and Officer-in-charge of the Navy Department Transatlantic Radio Control Station, Radio Officer of battleship TEXAS, aside on the staff of Admiral Chase and Marvell, Radio officer of the Fleet Base Force, Office in charge of the Registered Publication Section, Assistant Navy Department Communication Officer and Officer-in-charge of Radio Central.
But it was 1929 when this bright young man began his career as a member of the Federal Radio Commission –the “old” FCC.
Fresh from the Navy, and was an abundance of two-way communication knowledge and experience in his background, Jett was soon appointed Senior Radio Engineer in direct charge of the Commission’s Engineering work concerning radio services other than broadcasting. He was named Assistant Chief Engineer in 1931, Chief Engineer in 1938 and Commissioner in January of 1944. Later that year, in November, he was requested by President Roosevelt to temporarily serve as a chairman of the commission.
It was during Mr. Jett service as FCC Commission that he became a very strong advocate for the establishment of a citizen Radio Service.
The now-famous “CB DOCKET” (#6651) was presented in January of 1945 during his term on the Commission.
Mr. Jett modestly recalled, “While it is true that I played an important part in getting this service organized, I am sure that you realize that it was more than a one-man job! Indeed, as I recall, there was complete agreement on the part of all the Commissioners and members of the staff in setting up the rules and allocations for the Citizen Band. As the time, we were convinced as the result of widespread use of walkie-talkie by the military during World War 2, that this type of equipment could be used for Citizen Radio purposes.”
“An important part” was a slight understatement on Mr. Jett’s part –for in July of 1945 the SATURDAY EVENING POST carried a full-length article by Mr. Jett called “PHONE ME BY AIR,” in which he outlined his planes and hoped for the CB services.
Mr. Jett told that “In the lead paragraph of this story I predicted that ‘any’ American citizen, firm or group or community unit may privately transmit and receive short-range messages over certain wavelengths. From mere listeners or spectators… people in homes and offices throughout the country will become active participants.”
Mr. Jett also predicted numerous specific uses for CB, including the following: Emergency communications, Civil Defense, on the farms of America, for hunters, sportsmen, physicians, as well as serving businesses of many kinds, utilities, and municipal agencies.
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He suggested that the FCC might urge all licenses in each community to form clubs for voluntary assignment of channels for minimum interferences, issuing CB call-books showing the channels and station hours of participating members. The clubs would also adopt such rules and operating procedures for their area as judgment and experience would dictate.
When you consider that all this was predicted more than 23 years ago, you can’t help but realize that Mr. Jett’s keen intuition and his extensive background in two-way communications was no doubt the main FCC voice in support of our present citizen band.
When asked about whether the CB service had developed along the lines he had planned almost 25 years ago, Mr. Jett told that “I can say that I am very well pleased, indeed, considering the many understandable delays due mostly to technical and economic factors, I was agreeably surprised to read in the FCC’s 26th Annual Report to Congress that over 126,000 stations with 441,000 transmitters were licensed at the end of fiscal 1960.
“Since 1947 I have devoted my time to the television industry and have not followed the growth of citizen radio except to read a trade journal or public note issued by the FCC. However, it is my understanding that the rules have been tightened to re-define permissible communications and to limit the time and length of communications. This I am sure, is necessary in order to avoid intolerable interference, as well as to prohibit certain unauthorized communications in violation of the law.”
“But on the whole, I am sure that the service is fulfilling most of the needs which were foreseen by the commission following the end of World War 2. It is also gratifying to know that the service can be authorized with a minimum of regulatory controls.”
We pay sincere tribute to the memory of E. K Jett, without his foresight we might not have a CB service.by
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