Last Updated on 27 February 2009

“Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9!
Anyone got their ears on out there?”

Growing up in the 1970’s, my family took many road-trip vacations across the United States. Spending so much time in the car, my dad thought it would be a good idea to get a CB radio – a citizen’s band radio. (For those of you not familiar with a CB radio, think bigger broadcast distance than a walkie-talkie but shorter than a radio station. This is in the time before mobile phones).

CB Radio

The “CB” was the way truck drivers and others sharing the highway would keep each other informed to what was taking place. (Truck drivers still use it).

It was a great way to find out road conditions, nearest gas stations, and speed traps.

There was a network of people on the highway all looking out for each other.

It was also helpful for emergency calls, Channel 9 is reserved for emergency and distress calls.

Twitter works like the CB did. We have special handles, a special language, swap short important relevant messages, and do this on the highway… the information highway!

I’m still learning the Twitter language with @ and RT and # symbols…

In the mean time, I’ll share a few CB radio terms I recall….

Incomplete Guide to CB Radio Terms

Many of you know “10-4” to mean affirmative or yes. Just like Twitter, CB’ers have their own whole language.

A few terms I remember hearing include:
This all sounds better with a bit of southern twang in your voice

  • Breaker – What you say (and what you’re called) when you want to share the channel and start talking. (There were only so many channels, and there was a chance that another conversation could be taking place… Before you started talking, you’d ‘ask permission’ to break the conversation).

    “Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9! This is the Red Rooster.”

    If someone was already out there… They would reply…

    “Go ahead Red Rooster…”

    If perhaps I was looking to see if my brother (handle: Screamin’ Demon) had his CB radio on, I’d say…

    “How about you Screamin’ Demon? You got your ears on out there?”

    If I didn’t hear a reply, I’d assume he wasn’t on air. You’d end the conversation thanking the person who yielded their conversation with,

    “Thanks for the break!”

    If you’re having a good drive, you may also close with…

    “Keep ’em clean and green!” (see below)

  • Anyone Got There Ears On Out There? – Is anyone else on this channel? Can anyone hear me?
  • Blew My Doors Off – when another vehicle passes you at a high speed.
  • Taking Pictures – the law using radar gun to measure speed. “You got a Smokey takin’ pictures about 5 miles ahead.”
  • Keep ’em Clean and Green – Something you’d say as a close to a conversation. Keep ’em Clean meant hope you don’t run into any police. Green meant green lights. You’d wish the driver they’d only run into green lights.
  • Bear, Smokey or Smokey Bear – police (especially state police because they wore a Smokey the Bear style hat).
  • What’s your 20? – what’s your location?

Good buddy, read more CB Slang on Wikipedia. Enjoy.

Image Source: Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online. I lived in Rhode Island at the time I selected a handle for myself. The red rooster is the official state bird, so I chose this name for myself. My dad was the “Big-D” for dad.