Still, lots of sportsmen just plain don't like CB, claiming it's an unfair advantage. Carl Johnson, chairman of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and an avid bear hunter, says, "It takes away from the wilderness setting to use CB radio. I like old-fashioned hunting." Perhaps the thing to do is give CB equipment to trout, bears and deer. It might be a more equal match of wits and instinct if one turned to Channel 19 and heard "That's a Big 10-4 on Fire-stick's 10-20 [location], Bambi Control. We've got our tails down and showing a frown. 3's and 8's [good luck and good-by] to you."
Certainly the folks who come to Greenville, Maine and towns like it across the nation are increasingly well equipped. Radio Shack, one of the biggest retailers of CB sets, has $100 million worth of gear on order this year, and in British Columbia officials are estimating that 75% of next fall's hunters will be radio-equipped.
American business is also gearing up in other ways to make the most use of the CB fad. While prohibited, subtly disguised ads luring listeners to motels, restaurants and campsites can occasionally be heard, and many recreational vehicle dealers are offering CB sets as sales incentives. Harold Wagner, President of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Campers and Hikers Association, says, "We've got 9,000 members, and I guess about one-third have CB. We use them to keep together on the highway, find places to stay and eat. I don't know if it's a trend, but many camp owners are putting in CB base units to talk campers right into their locations."
CB is even making inroads into organized sport. Take the cutthroat world of college football recruiting. Like several recruiters in the Southwest, Mike Pope of Texas Tech does a lot of driving and uses CB to get directions to prospects' houses in unfamiliar towns. "I've even talked with a few kids on CB," he says. "It gives me an early edge. There's an idea I've had, but I've never tried it. When you've got a high school player and you know other scouts will be in the area, and maybe they'll be asking for directions, too, you could send them off on a wild-goose chase."
Many Oklahoma University football players and coaches, with the notable exception of Head Coach Barry Switzer, installed CB in their cars and homes last year. Player "handles" ranged from "Terrible Twister" for Joe Washington to "Pass Catcher" for Tinker Owens. Assistant Coach Wendell Mosley (a black) was known as "Black Velvet." Oklahoma fans who caught on to the Sooner network called the players offering congratulations and advice and indulged in lengthy discussions about tactics.
Officiating is another area where CB is proving a boon. Sports such as golf, or cross-country running or skiing, where the distances involved make communications between officials difficult, have been greatly enhanced by more efficient decision-making and crowd control, and the increased safety factor is obvious. Even in events as brief as downhill skiing, injured racers are receiving quicker aid thanks to CB-equipped Ski Patrol members. And CB also has been called on in small-time sporting events. In Lubbock, Texas, Gene Harper, organizer of a yearly 4.6-mile Go-kart road race, stations 11 CB-equipped marshals at strategic points along the circuit to report accidents and track conditions. Because CB is inexpensive, kids racing in Lubbock can have the same protection that Formula I drivers get at Watkins Glen.
Inexpensive CB might be, but the sets still aren't free, and kids who used to steal hubcaps and then tape decks are now into lifting CBs from cars. The Kansas City Police Department recorded 1,480 stolen sets, valued at $264,760, between January and August of last year. With thefts on the rise, one might take a tip from the way a Kansas City man recovered his CB. When a radio repairman opened the stolen set he found a note tucked among the transistors: "If lost or stolen, please contact Emmitt L. Allen or police." The repairman did both—the man who brought the set in was released after it was learned he bought the rig at a swap-meet.
Not so lucky was Jackson County, Mo. Sheriff Kenneth Carnes, who bought a CB set for his wife's car, assuming it would make her feel safer on the highway. A few days later the rig was ripped out while the car was parked in the Kansas City municipal garage.
Because CB is under the jurisdiction of the FCC there are laws against its use by unlicensed operators, for improper procedure (such as conversational broadcasting on the emergency and contact channels, 9 and 11) and for using profanity on the air. The maximum penalty for operating without a license is $10,000 and two years in the federal slammer. Seattle FCC official Bob Dietch says, "We've levied some stiff fines, one for $2,000, and publicized them. We're not fooling around." But another FCC official admits that the task of effectively monitoring CB is beyond its grasp. With only three engineers scanning the dials in all six New England states, Gerard Sarno of the commission says, "We're still checking out complaints from January. That's how far behind we are. With that kind of manpower, you can't be serious."
While CB is in many ways proving to be a mixed blessing, there is at least one group for which it is an unequivocal bonus. Bill Bowman, a victim of muscular dystrophy, got a CB set two years ago. "I met more people the first year I was on CB than I had in the previous 10," he says. As avid a CBer as any trucker, Bowman equipped his electric wheelchair with a CB rig last year. And like many a motorist, when he got stuck in the mud one day he "put out a Mayday and it wasn't long before another fellow with a radio came along and pulled me out." That led him to become part of a CB club, the "No! No! Club," and like many other members of CB organizations, Bowman now helps monitor the emergency channel, often assisting lost motorists and occasionally saving a life. The club even put Bowman in contact with folks that put him on a bowling team.