CB Radio Cards Are A Strange Reminder of America’s Past
CB Card scans via myQSL.org
It’s easy to forget that CB Radios were really, really popular across North America, but what few realize is that the 1973 Fuel Crisis actually helped to spread their reach from truckers to regular motorists. With technology developed from the mid-’40s, gas shortages are what finally convinced many to get on the CB Radio bandwagon, with truckers and radio operators constantly sharing locations of still-stocked fuel stations.
As with any technology that thrived in the wide-open expanse of America’s Interstate highway system, CB Radio operators hated “dead air”, and instead used their equipment to seek out entertaining, fanciful, and only-sometimes-crazy people to talk with. Hollywood accelerated the craze with Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Dukes of Hazzard, but there’s one part of the CB Radio lifestyle that flies under the radar: calling cards.
Imagine an internet chat room staffed only by your parents, truckers, and strangers—surely, a cacophony of chaos. For those lucky enough to make an impression or meet in person, however, collecting QSL cards were the ticket to an enjoyable ham radio hobby. QSL cards are nothing more than the confirmation that two operators had contacted one another, yet with the explosion of CB Radio operators in the ’70s, the often hand-drawn pieces became literal calling cards for those in the hobby.
There are so many that it’s difficult to find a common thread, beyond a call sign, radio frequency (band), and timestamp. Some are artful enough for MoMA, while others depict the most interesting aspects of human behavior, including sex, Pabst Blue Ribbon consumption, and religious diversity.
I’ve picked my favorites from myQSL.org, one of the few places that you’re able to browse a wide selection from CB Radio’s past. Surely, some Petrolicious readers must have a card or two stashed away underneath the Cobra CB Radio gathering dust in the garage?
For more, visit myQSL.org—just beware: some of the pieces are crudely NSFW.