Channel 19

Todd Dills

‘Going Wrong’? — what Sarah Palin’s autobiography has to do with you

| November 30, 2009

Not much, really, unless you happen to be reading it and enjoying its critique of media lassitude and political bias, with the exception of a mention of VHF radios and conversations with truckers held from Palin’s Alaskan back porch. The mention of truckers comes via Craig Medred, who offered this critique of Palin’s “Going Rouge” autobiography. The critique takes the form of a fact-checker’s list of errors. He found a mention of conversations held on VHF radio (at a higher spectrum and with a longer range than the CB) that he took issue with:

From “Going Rouge,” on p. 38: “Todd and I discovered we could close the five miles between our homes if we stood on our back porches and used the handheld VHF radios he used on his fishing boat in Bristol Bay. For months, we snuck whispered nighttime chats until we discovered that the commercial truckers barreling through town could hear us.”

From Medred’s commentary:

WRONG OR ILLEGAL, OR WRONG AND ILLEGAL, take your pick. Federal law stipulates that anyone using a VHF radio, a so-called marine radio, from land must have a “marine utility station license.” The licenses are not available to truckers. Truckers have traditionally used citizen’s band — so-called CB — radios. In the most charitable-to-Palin scenario, the radios from Todd’s boat were CBs. But if, in fact, Todd and Sarah were using VHF radios, they would have been doing so illegally, and they would have been mistaken in believing truckers could eavesdrop. You can’t listen to VHF on CB any more than you can watch TV on your portable radio.

That sounds OK, right? But maybe Palin’s got a point about media laziness. The problem with Medred’s logic, of course, is the assumption that no truckers use VHF radios, when in fact particularly up in the north country and out west, many truckers run with VHF in the cab. See this post about the very subject on the forums at The Truckers Report. If you’re going to fact-check somebody else, you might want to be sure several pairs of eyes and brains are going at your own work, eh? Or maybe I’ve messed up, eh?

  • Little David

    Googling the VHF radio frequencies mentioned in your link, they refer to LADD1 and LADD2 which I think are legal for truckers to use with an easy to get license in Canada.br /br /Doing some further surfing via Google, I noted claims that truckers on the Dalton Highway in Alaska may be using VHF there, with the only claim of such radios identifying them as being Marine Band radios – the usage of which would I guess actually be illegal. But they#39;re out in the middle of nowhere so who complains? This would mesh nicely with what is written in Sarah#39;s book.br /br /Down here in the lower 48, quite a few truckers use 10 Meter Ham (still HF not VHF I believe) radios and you can buy the radios in some truckstops. Usage of the 10 Meter band by anyone without a ham license is actually illegal as well, but the 10 Meter band is little used by Hams so I doubt there are many complaints about truckers using it.br /br /I have run into a couple licensed Ham radio truckers who of course can legally use all the Ham frequencies including VHF.br /br /I used to be a licensed Ham myself although I long ago let my license lapse. I can tell you that back in the days before cell phones there were advantages to having a ham radio in your vehicle. In an emergency it was much easier to get a hold of help and you actually could make mobile, local phone calls via VHF although the discussions had to be simplex instead of duplex (while one person is speaking the other person can not – just like on a CB).

  • Todd Dills

    Yes, David, they are legal with a license and fairly simple to get in Canada — and in the U.S. The 10-meter ham (is that what folks mean when they talk about Single-Sideband radio?) and 11-meter are both common among drivers in the states, too: you might check out this community of drivers if you#39;re looking to get back into HAM: br /http://n9gqr.com/br /If I#39;m not mistaken many are doing APRS with the national weather service and things of this nature.

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