CB Convac: Can Sunspots Kill CB?

CB Radio

The following column written by Ink Dipper, appeared in syndicated columns in newspapers during the 3rd or 4th week of September 1976:

CONVAC - 1976 - 09-22-1976 - Ironwood Daily Globe, 22 Sep 1976, Wed, Page 8.jpgWill 1978 be the beginning of the end for CBing in America or is that just a cry of “wolf”?
We’re not crying wolf, but there is something disturbing ahead for CBing as we move toward the peaks of the 11-year sunspot cycle.Sunspot activity causes CB signals to “skip” thousands of miles. These bouncing signals block out local signals and knock out the normal effective range of a CB radio.
The peak of activity will begin in 1978 and last from three to five years. No one can say for certain how bad the problem will be, but there is little optimism.
At least two independent studies suggest dire problems for CBers. Proposed solutions offer little hope.
It seems inconceivable that sunspots, which are eruptions of the sun’s surface can cause havoc on the world’s most widely used from a wireless communications. But it happens, and here’s how:
A normal CB wave is like light from an electric bulb – it goes out in all directions. The signals that go up simply pass through the Earth’s atmosphere.
But when sunspots build in intensity, they increase the amount of electrical energy in a layer of the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. The energy buildup causes the layer to become reflective – just like a mirror. And instead of passing through the atmosphere, the signal reflects – or skips back to earth.
We CBers who went through the last skip peaks are probably the least optimistic about what will happen in 1978. Sunspot skips sometimes decreased range by 75 per cent or more. There is always a small amount of skip specially in the summer. But this is usually related to sunspots and nothing like the skip in the last peak period.
The Federal Communications Commission is aware of what is coming. FCC officials have been studying two reports, one done for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the other for the President’s Office of Telecommunications Policy.
The dilemma, the studies point out, is clear. The peak will come and skip will increase.
Also, sources inside the FCC say, that the agency has a report stating much the same thing.
A solution to end all of this would be to move the citizen’s band to a higher frequency range, one not hit as hard by the “skip” phenomenon is now on the 27 megahertz range, and suggested ranges for the move are the 50 and 200 megahertz range.
But a move to the higher frequency would make the average CB set cost more – possible as much as $1,000 – because of added electronic refinements needed to operate at the higher level.
If the FCC did move CB up the frequency spectrum – and abandoned the 27 megahertz frequencies – it would mean that Americans would own millions of useless two-way radios tuned to frequencies that no longer could be legally used.
Whether the FCC takes actions or not, we don’t believe the end of CBing is at hand. Too many people have CB radios now, and some them will ride it out. But the phenomenal growth of CB use could end unless a practical solution can be found.

CB Convac: Case for Lowering the CB Age Limit

CB Radio

This syndicated column by Ink Dipper appeared in newspapers in the third week of September, 1976.
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There is a movement afoot to have the Federal Communications Commission change its rules to permit young people under 18 years of age to obtain a license to operate a Citizens Band Radio.
At this writing young operators must be a member of a family in which there is a license issued to someone 18 or older. However, there have been so many instances where proficient operators younger than 18 have performed “heroic” roles that the hue and cry for licensing is being raised.
“CB is for everyone,” goes the battle cry.
Gene Mallyck, prominent Washington FCC attorney, says: “The movement has two thrusts. The first is that CBing has become a hobby with younger people and they feel they have a right to have a license in their identity. Secondly, it has become widely-known at the Commission that younger people are operating units, even there isn’t a license in their family and the feeling developing at the FCC is that it would be better to permit them to be licensed in their own name.”
The popular song, “Teddy Bear,” written by a veteran trucker and CBer Dale Royal and recorded by Red Sovine, tells the story of a crippled boy in his earliest teens who talks with truckers on his home CB unit. The recording has sold over a million copies.
In Garden City, Ga., there is a 15-year-old, Mark Davis who mounted a CB units on his bicycle so he could modulate while he rode. He has the transceiver mounted on his “two wheeler” between the handlebars in a wooden box.
Mark said he has watched the four-wheelers and 18-wheelers spinning by his home with their CBs going and found it a little frustrating.
“I’m not old enough to get a license to drive a car, and I’m not old enough to have a CB license jeither,” he said. “So, when my Dad got his CB license from the FCC, I got my own unit and decided to put it on my bicycle. All the other kids at school are jealous.”
His handle is “Bud Man Jr.” He picked the name from a character in a television beer commercial.
Stan Bennett, editor of Magic Magazine, reported recently that CB is a hobby and many of his young readers are interested in “Amateur magicians are usually active and creative young people.” he said, “They are constantly involved in hobbies, CB is a natural.
“There are now many CB-magic club around the country in which the members discuss various tricks, which ones are good and which ones are not so good,” he said. “One group calls their base station ‘Houdini’ and hand like ‘Blackstone’ and ‘Conjurer’ are widespread.”
“Many of them use channel five as their meeting place,” he reported. “They call it the ‘nickel channel’.”
Break…break..this is Magician. The Ink Dipper may disappear.

CB Convac: CB For More Than Just Four-Wheelers

CB Radio

This syndicated column appeared in newspapers at the end of August, 1976.

If you’re one of the millions who have finally made the move toward having a CB in your four-wheeler, then maybe it’s time you hooked a unit up in other areas of your life.
For instance, more and more fishermen are finding that it’s much easier to find “where the fish are” with a CB at their side.

For practical purposes you won’t be scaring fish away screaming to a nearby boat to see how the catch is going.
It will also save time from fishing in the wrong place till the sun goes down, and turning in with a dry haul.
And don’t minimize the fact that there could be a dire emergency aboard your boat and the only way you could get attention is by setting your boat afire or using CB.
Yes, you’ll be able to scream for help from your good buddies, but don’t expect to hear from the Coast Guard, if you’re in their area.
The only way a CBer can get Coast Guard help is if he also has an FM emergency radio on board or locates one in another boat.
The U.S. Coast Guard refuses to monitor CB because of the many hoaxes they claim have been perpetrated via CB.
So the Coast Guard may listen to you, but the fish probably will.
Fishermen aren’t the only outdoorsmen who find the air waves a help. Have you though of back-packing with a CB for company?
A hand-held CB transceiver is a self-contained CB radio. You can take it anywhere on a backpacking expedition, from New York’s Central Park to the Smokey Mountains.
A walkie-talkie can be bought for as little as $15.95 and up to $149.95. And if you’re a member of a family in which everyone likes to route his own course on family outings then stick them all with a CB. It works much better than saying, “Meet you back here at 8:15 p.m.” This way you can find out where they are and if they can help.
How about a CB on your two-wheeler (or motorcycle)? It may sound strange, but it can be a life-saver for motorcyclists, just as well as automobile drivers.
Duncan Parks, a 68 year-old man from Watkins Glen, N.Y., made a cross-country trek from his home to California and back. His company for the trip? A motorcycle and his sweet-talking CB, of course.
Parks felt prepared for anything after he put his CB in an old camera case and wore it around his neck with a transistor radio earphone plugged into his helmet.
“I was going alone,” Parks said, “and realizing the vastness of this great country and the possibility of a breakdown. But I got my CB.”
Even though you might not be planning to go boating, backpacking or motorcycling right away, you could be just planning to bicycle around the block, and need to be in contact with home.
There’s a CB for every occasions and there’s no limit to its use for leisure or in an emergency, all it takes is a desire to communicate and a little imagination.

CB Convac: FCC Expands the Number of Channels

CB Radio, Uncategorized

convac-1976-08-24-dixon-evening-telegraph-24-aug-1976-tue-page-10The biggest CB news is being transmitted out of Washington, D.C. from the granite headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission.
As a result of many complaints about channel congestion and interference the FCC had to do something.
Their answer was primarily increasing the number of channels for Citizens Radio Service from 23 to 40. All of them in the AM band. They did some other things too.
The FCC decided that equipment authorization would be required of the manufacturers prior to marketing the unit. Type acceptance of the transmitter must be obtained from the FCC. This is a change. Also, certification for the receiver.
The type acceptance and certification for transceiver and other equipment, having both transmit and receive capability, it is quite a departure from the way it has been handled in the past. As a result of these new rules, manufacturers won’t be able to play games with pricing as it relates to quality and type of equipment being sold.
Obviously, not all manufacturers were guilty of this sort of thing. But, a lot of in-and-outer assemblers did it and the result were that many units were sleazy. And, since close to 80 percent of the components or total units came from the Orient, it was pretty easy.
Now, transmitters must comply with FCC specifications or they will not be accepted and certified. This will eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, spurious emission and comply with harmonic suppression limitations. Net result: less interference and a reduction in the complaints of many of your neighbors and the commercial broadcasters in your area.
All this goes into effect on all sets marketed after January 1, 1977. One thing the FCC did might aid in the efforts to resist thievery: all new equipment must have a unique identifier, both type or model number, according to the rules governing type acceptance and certification.
It will ultimately cut down on congestion so you can reach your good buddy without so much trouble. So, that’s a second good point.
Third, assuming you don’t get your set modified, you’ll not have as many people on the original 23 channels as you have now. That will make it a little easier.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is the date when this will all go into effect: Jan 1, 1977. If you are buying or planning to buy a unit now, don’t let a hard-selling salesman unload 23 channels on you without clarifying the program he has for handling the changeover to 40 channels.
He may be caught with a big inventor in 23-channel units right now and, to move them out, he’ll make rash promises. Get the modification plan in writing. This way you’ll get your money’s worth.
All this is necessary because adapters which might connect your existing 23-channel radio with another unit containing 17-channels is illegal according to the new rules. Either a modification of your present sent or buying a new one with 40 channels is required.
Is it comforting to know that Washington is always transmitting? I wonder sometimes.

CB Convac: Preventing Those ‘Dangling Wires’

CB Radio, Uncategorized

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The theft of CB radios has reached crisis proportions. If you haven’t already had your CB stolen, then it is only a matter of time before you return to your four-wheeler to find a few ripped wires where the one proud instrument rode.
That is, unless you take some very basic precautions. Most people don’t. So for the thief who wants, or needs, to make a quick buck ripping off your CB is easy.
Here are 10 simple steps that will greatly reduce the chances of your CB being taken.
1. Use common sense.
2. Always park in a well-lighted area.
3. Never leave car without locking it.
4. Remove lock bolt covers on car doors.
5. Have CB mounted so it can be removed when away from car.
6. Take it with you or put it in trunk.
7. Get a metal engraving pen from local hardware store and etch Social Security number on the CB chassis.
8. Record serial number of CB and keep it in a safe place.
9. Purchase auto burglar alarm.
10. Encourage local police department to initiate a program to marl all CBs with metal engraving pens.
With the use of these precautions most CB thieves can be thwarted. But recently in Cincinnati the police caught up with an accomplished CB thief.
In an interview, the thief – who was only identified as “John” – explained how he made more than $20,000 in two months stealing CBs and other things.
“By the time I walked up to a car and put my hand on the door handle, I would have had a coat hanger in the window and the door unlocked,” he said.
“Anybody who saw me open a car that fast thought I had a key,” he explained.
He could even enter cars that were equipped with burglar alarms.
He said stealing CBs enabled him to build up a sizable bank account, pay the rent, take friends out to dinner “and blow about $300 a night” at a local race track. John found hotels profitable because large numbers of salesmen who stay there leave their CBs and other wares in their cars, parking lots at theatres were lucrative, too, because he could time the owner’s return to their cars with the ending of each showing of the movie.
Interestingly enough, he frequently used his CB to sell the CBs he had just stolen. He would go out on an interstate and cruise, ratchet-jawing with other CBers. When he found a likely prospect, he would arrange to meet them at the nearest restaurant or truck stop. He usually sold CB units for $30 to $40 below retail price.
A favorite story John tells is the time he ripped off another thief.
“I was just sitting in my car, watching a parking lot, when I saw this guy taking a CB unit out of a car. I waited until he had gotten out, and then I went over and told him it was my car. He just looked at me and handed me the radio and took off,” John said.
Luckily most thieves are not like John. They have not perfected the art.
If the simple rules listed above are carefully followed, the CB thief will take an easier target, leaving tours alone. Then you won’t find some dangling wires when your return from the movies.

CB Convac: Radio Can Be a Life-Saving Tool

CB Radio

This column originally appeared in syndicated newspapers in the second and third week of August, 1976.

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There are many people wondering today what CBers are like, what makes them tick, are they different from their fellow Americans.
The music which has emerged to reach best-seller lists and most-played on popular radio stations indicate that CBers are “folksy” and friendly. From the big hit by C.W. McCall, “Convoy” to Cledus Maggard’s “White Knight,” both telling a story about CBing with a touch of humor, to the current sad one: “Teddy Bear,” there is the single strain of togetherness among those who modulate.
A crippled lad, whose Daddy was a trucker and killed in a blinding snow storm wreck, yaks with a trucker on his father’s CB. The boy’s handle is “Teddy Bear.” He desperately wants to ride an 18-wheeler again. The trucker says his “freight can wait” and he U-turns to go to the boy’s home to give him that ride.
Upon arriving there, he finds that he wasn’t the only one monitoring channel 19. The block in front of the house is lined up with 18-wheelers giving “Teddy Bear” the rides he wanted so much. They, too, were expressing their compassion.
The ability to mobilize people to help in times of need is manifest all over the country. Wherever there are CBers. Not long ago in Snohomish, Wash., 19 CBers pitched in to help when the worst wintertime flooding in 50 years inundated the fertile Snohomish River Valley. According to The CB Times-Journal, the club members used their CB units 24 hours a day. They monitored Channel 9 for distress calls and used four channels to coordinate their rescue efforts. They went into action overnight and kept the endeavor going for an entire week. No money. No overtime pay. Just helping out.
In the Ohio River Valley, CBers from Pittsburgh to Parkersburg, W.Va., and from Columbus to Harrisburg, a base station is operated almost constantly by a watchful and helpful lady, Mrs. Jerry Hoit. Known throughout the area as “The Swami,” rarely a day passes when she has not handled a distress call.
Few have met her, but her smiling voice: “Break…break…this is The Swami lookin’ at ya’ on channel 10…come on back”…is truly famous. She has traced a trucker on the wrong medication by putting out a 10-33 and the relay help of a CBer in Nova Scotia, jawed a CBer who was “a little drunk” home without mishap; and by instant action saved the life of a little girl seriously hurt.
Attesting to this new spirit of comradeship, Gus, a St. Bernard dog, was on a training trip, learning to carry a backpack. High in the Sandia Mountains behind Albuquerque on La Luz trail, Gus’s feet became raw from the rock and gravel. He could no longer keep up.
Weighing over 200 pounds, Gus’ exhaustion and wounded paws literally flattened him. His owners skied to the nearest Forest Service phone. Through a relay with Albuquerque’s Citizen Band and Rescue Team, Gus was carried safely home to recuperate.
The exploits of CBers who do not even know each other, but who respond to a distress call with a singleness of purpose, reminds one of the pioneering days when covered wagons criss-crossed our country. Helping out was a way of life for those early settlers. CBing offers this same flavor and spirit in 1976.
The fun in ratchet-jawing is amplified with unit of purpose in helping out. Does this make CBers different than their fellow-Americans?

BONUS:

“Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine

“Convoy” by C.W. McCall

“White Knight” by Cledus Maggard

An Introduction to QSL

CB Radio, Uncategorized

Anybody who has been following me for any length of time, knows that I am constantly telling people about the hidden gems known as QSL cards.

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QSL cards aren’t hard to explain but it’s a little hard to keep the description succinct. I found a blurb in The Neosho Daily News on March 25, 1976 that explains QSL cards in simple to understand terms.

As the article states, QSL cards originated as souvenirs/trophies of a radio user’s on-aor connection. When a radio user spoke to another radio user they would send each other a card, usually postcard-size, with their name, call sign and location.

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In the early days of Citizens Band (1960s and early 70s), radio users would often plaster them all over the walls near their set as a way of bragging about how much time they spent on the air and the power of their radio. These early QSL cards were definitely function over form.

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CB user names, or handles, were not the norm on QSL cards in the 1960s. As the 1970s started, handles would start showing up on cards.

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Often QSL cards showed people at their radio to show other users what kind of set they were using.

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Steadily throughout the 1970s, QSL traders started adding art to their cards.A company called CBC Wholesale Club out of North Carolina provided stock art for QSLers. (I plan on a full post about CBC in the future).

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However, sometimes CBers would draw the artwork themselves.

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As the fad grew, people has a desire for cards that represented their handle or their lifestyle better than the crudely drawn cards. That’s when QSL artists became all the rage.

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QSL cards became status symbols to collectors and CBers. It didn’t matter if you had spoken to someone over the radio anymore, it mattered if you had their QSL card.

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Collectors clubs sprung up all over the country. For a small fee, you could join a group of collectors, make new friends and find an easier way to trade cards. Collectors clubs would often pool cards together and trade with other collectors clubs.

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QSL essentially detached itself from the CB craze and became a mini-craze of its own. However, much like baseball cards, the bubble burst and these cards were forgotten or just plain thrown out. I feel like the images should be preserved and the artwork shared.

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I have had several art showcases showing the art of written multiple articles and a booklet on the subject that you can purchase here.

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I will be posting a lot of cards on this site. Some will have stories, some won’t. Some will be drawn by trained artists who made quite a living drawing these cards, some won’t.

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In the new few weeks/months/years I will be introducing you to some of the biggest names in QSL art and collecting. You will get to know such artists as The Viking, Sundown, Squeaky, Moonglow, Moonbeam, The Shepherd, The Brushstroker, Muzzleloader and especially Runnin Bare.

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I will also being share stories, photos and items that collectors have been kind enough to share with me.

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I have tens of thousands cards from all over the world and I hope you enjoy them half as much as I do.

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Please drop me a line or leave a comment if you have stories about your days on CB or as a QSL collector. Every story helps paint a picture of this crazy world.

CB Convac: Don’t Let Newness of CB Frighten You

CB Radio

CB Convac was a syndicated column that appeared in newspapers from 1976 through early 1978. These columns were written by the editor of The CB Times Journal with the handle of Ink Dipper. This is the first column. It appeared in newspapers in the second week of August, 1976:

CBing has become the great American pastime. It is approaching bowling in the number of participants, close to football in the number of fans, and like band-aids in the number of adherents.
CBers are you and me, or, at best, many of us. And growing at the rate of one-half million per month, according to the FCC. That means it won’t be long until it’s YOU, as well as me.
OK, so you’ve made the big step and purchased a CB unit for your car, You’ve even made a couple of trips down the super slab and have successfully avoided prowling bears, swarming county mounties.
You’ve desperately tried to keep up with the ratchet jawin’ truckers who swirl through the concrete jungle faster than the speed of sound.
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But there’s just one more thing you have to do. Despite the fact that your long-awaited license has arrived from the harried FCC bureaucrats laboring for Uncle Charlie, you still haven’t quite managed to get up the gumption to push the button.
Will I say the right things? What if they answer back in this strange language with some question I won’t understand? Is my handle silly…will they laugh?
Well, let’s take the last question first. Of course your handle is silly, it’s yours…but now that you’ve been listening to CB convacs for awhile, let me ask you…have you heard a handle that is unique? It’s everyone establishing his or her own identity.
Besides, it’s your radio system, your handle and your highway (the bears even work for you). So take heart. Push the button. And give out with some ratchet-jawin’. If you’re a freshman and still queasy about breaking channel 19, flip over to another. There;s a bunch to choose from, and talk to someone else.
Now for some serious convac.
You have your license. You have had your CB installed. You should be somewhat acquainted with the FCC regulations governing the CB use. You are also aware that Channel 9 is used solely for emergency traffic.
Hence, you now have not only a play-toy that helps pass the long miles…you also have and instrument that can prevent accidents, save lives and aid law enforcement. Remember, your CB uni is your only outside communication in the isolation of your car.
At the outset of your CB career, you should familiarize yourself with the 10-code and basic CB language. Become cognizant of the responsibilities that come with owning a CB radio. If you observe something that would present a traffic hazard, get on your radio and tell it fast. Simple things, like and animal on or near the expressway, can cause serious accidents when you’re clipping along at 55 mph or more.
So, until the next time keep the rolling side down. The shiny side up. And with a big set of three’s and eight’s…we gone.

(See my previous post on 10-codes here)

Break…Break…CB Convac Comin’ Your Way

CB Radio

convac-1976-08-11-1976-the-town-talk-11-aug-1976-wed-other-editions

New weekly column for all you Citizens Band Radio enthusiasts out there on Channel 19 and the other channels. Fellow with the handle of Ink Dipper will bring you the latest ratchet-jawin’ from CB-land. Watch for CB Convoy (sic) every week in this newspaper.

convac-1976-08-17-1976-the-waxahachie-daily-light-17-aug-1976-tue-page-4

In August 1976, a syndicated column under the name of CB Convac  began to appear in newspapers across the country. The column, written by  Ink Dipper, provided advice, hints and radio etiquette to the tens of thousands of new CB users throughout 1976, 1977 and early 1978.

Ink Dipper was the editor of The CB Times Journal, a newspaper-like magazine for the CB radio enthusiast. I have been hoping to come across some issues of the Journal and if I do I will share the contents with all of you.

I thought it might be fun to share those syndicated columns each week so you can  learn about the strange and sordid world of CB radio.

Starting tomorrow, I will post about 2 or so a week until I get caught up on weeks and then I will post it as close to the 40th anniversary of the original column as possible.

The CB Boom

CB Radio, Uncategorized

The CB radio boom really took hold in 1976 and America’s journalists took notice. My goal is to share the QSL artwork and the CB columns that appeared in America’s newspapers in the 1970s.

The following article by Don Oakley appeared in The Indiana Gazette on August 19, 1976:

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THE HOTTEST TOPIC of public interest this years is not the Bicentennial or even the presidential election. Be advised, good buddy, that it’s Citizens Band (CB) radio.
CB has captured the fancy and imagination of Americans like almost nothing since the advent of home television three decades ago. Everyone, from truck drivers (who started the current boom during the 1973 gasoline shortage) to stay-at-homes, from school kids to the nation’s First Lady (known by her “handle” of First Mama) seems to want to communicate by radio.
One measure of this soaring interest is the number of applicants for CB licenses. The Federal Communications Commission’s issuing office in Gettysburg, Pa., is being swamped with half a million applications each month, compared to 30,000 a month a few years ago.
Another measure is the mushrooming appearance of new publications serving the CB market. There are now a least 40 magazines devoted to CB, according to Burson-Marsteller, the public relations-public affairs specialist, reporting on a just completed survey of the field. This time last year, there were only four. Another seven magazines, all of them less than a year old, deal with CB trade subjects such and marketing and retailing.

CB IS ALSO invading newspapers and finding a place alongside the crossword puzzles and bridge columns. Newspaper Enterprise Association, for one example, has just introduced a weekly column called “CB Convac.” (“Convac” is CB-ese for conversation.)
In addition, the wire services are producing and distributing CB features and interviews, and radio and TC are devoting more time to the subject.
Researchers at Burson-Marsteller predict that the CB boom will generate equipment and related sales of more than $1 billion this year and that the boom will continue unabated until 1979, especially since the FCC recently increased the number of channels from 23 to 40.
From 1979 on, they say, CB is likely to have the commonality of today’s television, with American’s tuning into CB as routinely as they turn on TV, both at home and on the road.Marconi, what hath thou wrought?