This Here Rubber Duck Revisited

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Glenn Reynolds has penned an interesting little appreciation of CB radio for TechCentralStation.com. Excerpt:

[I]n fact, CB was a revolution in its time, whose effects are still felt today. 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. No small thing. [?]

CB radio primed a generation that was used to top-down communication on the network-news model for peer-to-peer communication, getting people in the right frame of mind for the Internet, cellphones, and text messaging. It also served as a vehicle for spreading countercultural resistance to authority beyond the confines of hippiedom, taking it deep into the heart of middle America.

NEXT: All Ain'ts Day?

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  1. JM

    Given the recetn rise in the popularity of Red Neck culture, Pabst Blue Ribbon is hip now, I’d hold onto that cb.

  2. For all my high school years I tried to persuade my cell-phone armed friends to get CBs. No airtime fees!

  3. And really, how different is the screen name from the CB “Handle”?

    Not at all, since we used to call them handles, not screen names. Back in the day.

  4. I hear you, good buddy.

  5. I don’t know if this is redneck culture but there was a bizarre incident about 10 years ago, later put to song, about 20 naked pentecostals in a pontiac:

    “I actually heard the police chief from the town in Louisiana interviewed on As it Happens, a show on CBC radio where the hosts phone up people in
    the news and talk to them. Apparently the pentecostals had been driving in a number of vehicles which broke down along the way and ended up with 20 bodies piled into this one car, including four or five people in the trunk. The nakedness stemmed from the fact that the group had become convinced that their clothing was possessed by the devil. The car hurtled through town at about 90 mph and slammed into a tree in a park. A crowd gathered as the occupants emerged in various states of injury. They were
    travelling to some undisclosed location in Florida. The police chief seemed just a tad new to the whole media circus phenomenon.”

  6. I have no idea what you people are talking about.

  7. Then you must be from France or something.

    Well, or younger than 35.

    “Westbound and down, 18 wheels a-rollin, we’re gonna do what they said can’t be done. Got a long way to go, and a short time to get there, I’m westbound just watch old bandit run.”

    here comes the banjo …

  8. Ooops, I forgot the best part:

    I’m gonna get that sumbitch if it’s the last thing…. Junior, get in the G_____m car!

  9. “Westbound and down, 18 wheels a-rollin, we’re gonna do what they said can’t be done. Got a long way to go, and a short time to get there, I’m westbound just watch old bandit run.”

    Jerry Reed! I was listening to that song just yesterday…

  10. Yep, my second favorite country singer.

  11. And really, how different is the screen name from the CB “Handle”?

    catch you on the flip side good buddy.

  12. Westbound and down,
    18 wheels a-rollin,
    we’re gonna do what they said can’t be done.
    We’ll make a damn stupid movie,
    and we’ll make $90 million dollars,
    load up the money then go make Cannonball Run…

  13. “I have no idea what you people are talking about. ”

    Let freedom ring.

  14. When radio first came out it was something of a free for all. I’ve heard stories about citizens telling military radiomen to get off their frequency. 🙂

    To draw another parallel to computers, radios were expensive and poorly understood by most people at first, but teenagers and young men jumped in, and taught themselves enough to build their own and even sell them cheaper than the big companies.

  15. My favorite memory of my parttime job as schoolbus driver during college was the CB. Man, do those bus drivers like to play Trucker. To this day, I can’t hear the number above 19 and below 21 without smirking, having heard “What’s your 20, number 371” far too many times.

    Over and out.

  16. My bro-in-law is a Nat. Guard commander in charge of a transportation company that runs 18-wheelers. He’s always telling me how he has a hell of a time getting his guys to use proper military radio protocol, as opposed to “10-4 Good buddy!”. Something about sitting behind the wheel of a big truck with a handset, I guess.

  17. Let us never forget the “eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartruse microbus”, mon back?

    Omaha???

  18. A cab-over Pete with a refer on,
    and a Kenworth hauling logs,

    Looks like we got us a

    CONVOY!

  19. I’m really REALLY scared that I could remember that.

  20. Negatory, StMack, the country WAS free-er back then – that’s mostly what I remember (yeah, along with some neat lyrics …). The songs and movies about truckers just showed this.

    Catch you on the flip-side….

  21. So we crashed the gate
    doin’ 98!
    I said, “Let them truckers roll!”

  22. I still have my CB and magnetic-clamp-on antenna in the car. Cellular telephone is a true technological boon, but you never know when you’ll need an alternative or a backup.

    I remember when you needed to have a special CB license. At the time, I already and an FCC “First Phone” for commercial radio work, so I laughed at the CB requirement. Still, when the rules changed so that you could, in essence, “write your own” CB license without needing to pay a fee, I was thunderstruck by the concept. People predicted that the sky would surely fall if the FCC weren’t there all the time to “regulate” this slice of spectrum. And, because of the mobile, two-way nature of the medium, people DID tend to step on each other a lot — but this happened WITH or WITHOUT government police actions in the band. Overall, I think the Citizens Band was and is a lot better off without “Uncle Charlie” sticking his nose in.

    If only he’d do the same for the broadcast bands.

  23. I’m gonna BBQ your *** in molasses!
    Get in the truck Fred.

  24. Jean Bart can put the shoe on the other foot by writing a nostalgic paean to the Minitel.

    Gotcher ears on, JB, come back?

    Kevin

  25. Yup, got tears in my eyes when I saw little Ellie trying to call up her dad on the CB after he had died from a heart attack.

    (Ellie was the heroine in the movie “Contact.”)

  26. Sorry Burt, but I think Ellie was a Ham operator, not a CB user

  27. Thanks, kNow156Movies, I sit corrected.

  28. … but regardless of the technology used, the emotion still holds. (That’s why I “sit” here, watching Contact again.)

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