CHICAGO — Cedar Electronics has been selling CB radios to American truckers since the 1960s, helping connect the workers who keep the U.S. economy rolling. But these days Cedar’s business isn’t exactly trucking along.
The Chicago-headquartered company is racing around Asia looking for other countries to host its manufacturing, after the radios Cedar makes in China and brings to the United States were hit with one of the Trump administration’s 25 percent tariffs this summer, making them more expensive to import.
The White House’s decision to extend its tariff campaign to an even broader range of Chinese imports starting Monday is putting similar pressure on more U.S. companies to uproot their Chinese manufacturing, and to consider layoffs, price hikes and investment cuts.
[…]Cedar Electronics’ predecessor company was the first to introduce CB radios to the market decades ago. “We like to joke it was the first social media device,” Karnes said. The radios, made famous by movies like “Smokey and the Bandit,” are still used by many truckers, despite the advent of cellphones.
Steven Fields, a trucker based in Kansas City, Mo., said he uses a CB to warn other drivers about bad weather and accidents. “Being prepared can make a big difference between a miserable trip and a safe trip,” he said.
About 15 years ago, Cedar moved its manufacturing to China to save money on parts and labor, Karnes said.
Cedar imports almost all of its Cobra-brand CBs to North America, where it holds almost 80 percent of the market. The radios are mostly sold at large truck stops, for $99 to $199, depending on the model.
When Cedar learned its CBs would be included on the initial tariff list targeting $50 billion in imports, it applied for an exemption and imported additional inventory by costly airfreight to have stock on hand before the tariffs took effect. That gave the company enough CBs to meet demand through September without having to raise prices, Karnes said.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who reminds us that today is Class D CB radio’s 60th anniversary. From Wikipedia:
On September 11, 1958 the Class D CB service was created on 27 MHz, and this band became what is popularly known today as “Citizens Band”. There were only 23 channels at the time; the first 22 were taken from the former amateur radio service 11-meter band, and channel 23 was shared with radio-controlled devices. Some hobbyists continue to use the designation “11 meters” to refer to the Citizens Band and adjoining frequencies.
My dad was an avid CBer when I was a kid. He had an FCC-issued license and belonged to a healthy community of CBers in our part of the state. He had a beautiful yellow Robyn T-240D (same as pictured above) as a base station, and a mobile CB installed in every car. After the FCC dropped the licensing requirement, his activity on the bands slowed down although it did give me a chance to hop on.
Of course, it was a treat when I would catch some “skip” and make contact with someone two states away with that same walkie talkie.
Like it or hate it, a lot of radio enthusiasts and ham radio operators cut their teeth on CB radio.
I was certainly one of them.
CB radio is still a pretty dynamic public radio space today. True, it’s a bit of a free-for-all and if you can’t tolerate profanity and “colorful metaphors” then you best stay away.
You don’t need a CB radio in order to listen to the CB frequencies; most SDRs and many portable shortwave radios can tune in. If interested, check out this previous post: Listening to Citizens’ Band (CB) radio on your shortwave receiver.
Post readers: Anyone still use CB radio today? Anyone else get their start in CB radio? Any stories you’d like to share? Please comment!
“I found this web page that my be of interest to your blog readers. A guy named Drew Durigan has saved CB radio audio of himself talking to his friends when he was a teenager in the 1970’s. Its mostly kids talking smack about each other with CB radios, kind of like kids do today with text messages and facebook. The web page is called Radio Geek Heaven.”
Note that Drew has also posted numerous FM/AM air checks on Radio Geek Heaven as well–a lot of good audio to dig through.
Thanks for sharing, Chris!
Did you know that you may be able to listen to CB radio on your shortwave receiver?
If you have a digital receiver that covers from 26.9-27.5 MHz, you can listen to CB frequencies in a matter of minutes. Below, I’ve posted a chart of all 40 CB “channels” and their associated frequencies.
Why listen to CB radio?
- Find out what road conditions are like from local drivers by monitoring talk between truck drivers
- Monitor Channel 9 (the emergency channel) and contact local authorities if you hear a distress call
- During an emergency you could glean valuable information from the CB frequencies
- Entertainment value: hey, it’s CB–you never know what you may hear.