Citizen Band Radio – Memories from the 1980s

I got my first CB radio in 1984.  A PT40 model which I bought off a friend for £10.  It was a rather basic affair but did the job for a few months.  As well as the radio (or ‘rig’ as they were known) I bought an antenna to go on my mum’s car so I could chat away to my heart’s content without disturbing anyone.

Eventually, I upgraded to a York JCB 863 (a bit of a classic now) which cost me the grand sum of £27.  I happened to mention to someone that I was looking for a better CB ‘rig’ and he said he had the York available and wanted £30 for it.  I offered him £27 and he asked why that amount.  I explained that was all the money I had saved up and he agreed the deal (I was a student in those days, living with my parents and no income).  He lived in the village of Pill (on the Somerset side of the river Avon) and we met on the Bristol side of the M5 motorway bridge.

York JCB 863
Image courtesy of

The York rig was a far better radio than the PT40.  Around that time, I also decided I would install a proper CB antenna on the roof of our house so I could chat to people farther away.  One weekend my parents went away for a couple of days and I drove down to CB shop called Kernow Trading (long since closed down) in St. Pauls in Bristol.  There I bought a Thunderpole antenna (it looked like a large tripod with the antenna on top) and a metal pole about 15 foot long to mount it on.  When I got home I assembled the Thunderpole and mounted it on the top of the pole.  I had worked out a suitable location to fix the pole and set about putting it up there.  As I was on my own it was bloody scary trying to hold the pole and antenna in place whilst also screwing in the fixings, but I succeeded and the new set up worked a treat.  It came as a bit of a surprise to my parents when they returned home and saw the antenna looming above the house.  My father checked my handiwork and declared it safe so it was allowed to stay there.

The new antenna enabled me to reach incredible distances for such a low powered radio transmitter.  I would regularly talk to people based in the Brecon Beacons area and as far as Gloucester.  My parent’s house was on a hill and we were near the bottom which meant anything East and South of the house were unreachable.  There were even occasions when strange weather formations allowed radio signals to ‘bounce’ off the atmosphere and travel many miles.  During one of these periods, I managed to chat with someone in Nottinghamshire, which is a pretty incredible distance for radio signals to travel from Bristol.

As well as the rig and antenna I also bought an echo-microphone.  It had a slider on it that gradually increased the amount of echo added to your speech.  I had some fun with that….  There were also things like SWR meters that could be added, but I can’t for the life of me recall what that did.  Something to do with the signal quality and power I believe.

As a 17/18year old I was quite a shy person, especially when it came to chatting with young ladies.  The CB radio was an absolute Godsend and it enabled me to strike up conversations with many girls of my age, some of whom I met in person after I had got to know them a bit.  It was great in many ways and being before the days of the internet it really helped me to while away the hours talking mainly bollocks down a microphone to anyone silly enough to listen.  There were some amusing meetings and some slightly scary ones too.  It certainly educated me as to how different people were to me and my fairly sheltered upbringing.  There were one or two mild romances that eventually fizzled out after a period, however, I did meet with a young lady who eventually became Mrs Reggie.  We met a few times but never anything serious and it was a couple of years later when we got together properly, having both recently finished relationships.  With the start of this new relationship, I decided it was time to hang up the microphone and eventually I sold off all the CB equipment in the years that followed.

It was an interesting and mostly enjoyable period in my life and ultimately one which led me to meet my wife.  It was also a great way to ‘waste’ hours of your life – I bit like GP I suppose.

I occasionally think about getting a CB rig but I don’t think trying to revisit your past is always a good thing and GP is a far better platform for meeting people.

10-4 good buddies!

© Reggie 2021