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The heyday of CB Radio.

Byline: Dave Morton Nostalgia Editor

LIKE other crazes down the years, CB Radio came and went.

Forty years ago this week, the trucking song Convoy by American singer CW McCall entered the UK singles charts, peaking at number two.

It really wasn't one of pop music's greatest moments but the song, full of CB terms and references, sparked a UK fad, hot on the heels of the one that had swept the United States in the early 1970s.

Years before mobile phones were dreamed of, Citizens Band (CB) radio was a two-way, low-power radio band used by the American public.

Initially, CB had been used by US military, marine and emergency services.

Then truck drivers started using them to warn each other about speed traps.

CB operators would chat and exchange information on road conditions and the location of police traps - "Kojaks with a Kodak".

CB came to be identi-fied with the culture of the open road. Operators adopted colourful nicknames called "handles" for use on the air.

The craze had its own trucker slang. Users became "good buddies", a "smokey bear" was a police officer, and "Ten Four" meant "yes" or "acknowledged".

Here in the UK, DJs Dave Lee Travis and Paul Burnett released a spoof version of CW McCall's Convoy, later in 1976.

Calling themselves Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks, the record propelled the trend to even greater heights as Britain embraced "the people's radio."

Also giving Citizen's Band a helping hand were films like Smokey and the Bandit, Breaker-Breaker and, Convoy, the result of McCall's much-listened to record. Singer Kris Kristofferson starred as Rubber Duck in the box office smash.

When the movie first hit the cinemas, imported AM and SSB rigs brought in from the States were actually illegal and you risked a hefty fine if caught using one.

But Brits often brought them back from holidays across the Atlantic, and didn't realise they were doing anything wrong.

Recognising their popularity, CB radios were legalised by the then Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw on November 2, 1981, with 40 channels FM - a full band higher than the illegal sets - and the craze grew.

Ironically, the man who invented CB Radio, Canadian-born Al Gross would die a relatively poor man.

Moving into the 1990s and 2000s, CB enthusiasts were still active.

Looking back at CB's heyday, one trucker told us: "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 CW McCall song declared in 1976: "Looks like we got us a convoy."

And that is all "good buddies"!



| South Tyneside mayor, Coun Walter Robinson (given the CB name of Chain Man for the day), opens the South Shields CB gathering over the air, May 1, 1982

| Cashier Doreen Bone of Dixon's with one of the new CB Radios, October 31, 1981. Citizen's Band became legal in the UK on November 2, 1981

| A CB radio gathering in South Shields. A group of enthusiasts acting as show marshals. Left to right, David Musk Smith, Nicholas Watson, Richard Freeman, Dave Douglas, Pal Lee, Steve Roberts, Nigel Marston. May 1,1982

CB Radio buffs Paul Bradwell, alias The Badger, and Joseph Hunt, alias Bluebird II. August 2, 1983
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 30, 2016
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