Channel 19

Todd Dills

Trucker Tools in the gray lady; Channel 19 getting quieter?

| August 19, 2013

It’s no secret that smartphone apps related to the trucking business and life have multiplied exponentially over the last several years — we did a big roundup in the Pocket Tools feature, showcasing apps for freight, finance, road service, equipment, dealers, logs, and many other purposes way back in July 2011, and new apps and reworking on existing apps have only continued since then to the point that it’s now at least possible to take advantage of the efficiencies of business computing on the road without ever touching a laptop or desktop computer (Keeping abreast of what related news we’ve had since then can best be done via this list of stories.)

That might come as a surprise to readers of the New York Times, apparently, given the sort of “hey isn’t this weird” treatment they gave the lead to their piece of trucking smartphone apps this past Friday, Aug. 16. ” If you’re old enough to remember 1970s trucker films like ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ ‘Convoy’ and ‘White Line Fever,’ you may think of truck drivers as free-spirited individuals tethered to the world by nothing more than citizens band airwaves,” wrote the Times’ Benjamin Preston. He did at least acknowledge that that “depiction was a stretch even then,” and even more so today, as we know. 

In any case, you may be happy to note — we were! — that Preston called out Overdrive‘s own Trucker Tools app in the piece for its multidimensional functionality, unique in the trucking-apps world.  You can check out the full story here. 

CB Channel 19 getting quieter?
DriverDispatch.jpgFeatured in the story was driver Don Carpenter, who made note of cellphones and smartphones’ sort of replacement of some of the traditional uses of the CB, which we’ve remarked upon before. Prompted by a reader, we recently asked why Channel 19 had become so quiet of late out on the road. The proliferation of smartphones was one of the answers, of course, among ther 100-plus commenters. “We’re too busy Facebooking to talk on the CB,” joked one driver.


But others had a lot more to say on the subject. Weigh in on the topic yourself via this link or in comments under this story, and here’s a round-up of some of the other responses:

Dustin Cummins: The cell phone! Enough said!

Scott Noble:  I keep mine on all the time. I don’t care had bad it gets out here, there will be at least one or two old-school [folks left] trying to let me know about a traffic jam or weather or whatever the case may be, as I do when I see something going on. A CB is a tool that should be used every day.

Dean Schulz: Most of the bull shooters have grown up.

Alfredo Lujan: Tired of the hate out there! My big radio’s sitting in the garage. Have a Cobra in the truck if I happen to run into a friend, go to an alternate channel and visit a while.

Mike Striegel: I keep mine on. It can still be a useful tool. I squelch out the fools and turn it down if I can’t get rid of them. 

Zharman Prior: Bluetooth, SiriusXM, Skype, Facetime, improved variety on AM/FM radio, wi-fi, laptops, iPad, iPod, more animals in trucks, more wives warming jumpseats, and my final answer is the lack of bear reports and traffic information and the surplus of derogatory, racial and over all abusive speech heard over the CB. People are tired of it, and so am I. I turn my squelch all the way down so I have to be on top of you before I can hear you. But I would never turn it off. It’s already saved my life once by hearing about stopped traffic about a half-mile away and out of eyesight when I was hauling in the rain.

Matthew Allen Bradley: The CB has waned in popularity, but I love mine. I get a good laugh from time to time, and I can be nosy. Also it helps in times of inclement weather.

  • RickG

    The CB is still the best way to be warned of emergency situations happening just ahead.

  • tom

    I use it for the weather channel that I have for it.

  • Dirty Bird

    I agree that less people use c.b. radios. Although the only thing lacking is communication and making new friends among drivers. It has nothing to do with it being quieter. I’ve been working on radios for 25 years and a driver for 20. Why is the radio quieter? The Weather. Read up on solar storms. When the radio is quiet you hear some one say shut up stupid 9 miles away. When the skip is rolling the radio is noisy and you hear guys 900 miles away. And that poor fella that “Aint got no panties on” fades away in a half mile even though he has a good radio!

  • jason

    its the cell phone. But keep your C.B. on ch.19 because it gets out where a cell phone can’t.

  • David McGaugh

    Outdated, useless technology that has long since long been replaced by means that don’t include idiots you don’t want to hear from. I haven’t used one in years.

  • Daniel Kupke

    What do todays electronics have to do with the CB radio and what u use it for ?? How are you going to know anything about the cops ahead or what is going on at the scalehouse through a cell phone or a laptop facebook ect ect ?? These are 2 different worlds that have no bussiness being compared ?? The reason it’s quieter is because all these “”NEW”” truck drivers are doing things they shouldn’t be while they r running down the road ?? Texting talking on the phone computer stuff on the laptop ect ect ?? But as these new rules take effect and they keep on wandering into the scaleshouse unprepared and not knowing that there is a full blown DOT inspection process going on n eventually loose their ability to drive due to racking up these points I guess they will either learn or not be here any-more !!??



  • Ken

    I hate all of vulgarity, racism and arguing but I keep mine on about 98% of time.
    I’ve been out hear on and off since 1972 so I guess that pretty much makes me old school and the CB has always been a great tool and companion,
    I use mine many times a day to warn other drivers of road hazards and such.
    I miss the old days and the old ways.

  • hdtowman

    I’m so old I remember when the drivers left ch5 and went to 19….Maybe time to leave the filth on 19 and the Good Ole Boys & Gals pick a new number?

  • MercenaryMan

    Ive owned and used a CB radio from way back when you had to get a License and Call letters, Its gone up and down and seen its share of abusive jerks, but Ive used it to do more then talk, Finding Shippers, Getting weather, Information, Bear reports, Accidents, Road Conditions, Restaurants, Mecahnics, Tires….and some occasional Jerry Clower to pass the miles….ive met allot of darn nice people, and enjoyed many a good conversation. But the fella that Aint got no panties on…..what can we say about a grown man who spends several hundred dollars then samples something as silly as that, and drives nationwide to let the World he dont wear his Underwear…His momma sure would not be proud thats for sure…

  • Ken Nilsen

    I use it only when I am on show moves where we have to be in contact with other members of the team and we do not use 19 anyway. Other than that it stays off. I don’t need bear reports since I obey the law, traffic reports are useless, I have apps for road conditions, and I do not need to listen to juveniles to be considered a professional.

  • Bill Landsborough

    I would use mine during bad weather and unexplained traffic stops but rarely used it otherwise. My poor hearing was the main reason but I found that many drivers didn’t speak good english and therefore never used the CB.

  • MissKitty

    Kept my squeclch down so low, like the others, had to next to me to hear you.
    Got tired of hearing all the BS, but in turn, I”ve meet some really nice people who became friends, and had some really good conversations that helped the miles go by.

  • NuCarCarrier

    Ha! 1970’s, so much mumbo jumbo and handles. Nowdays, I just use my real name if I talk at all. Sometimes I thought my name was ‘hey carhauler, you’re dragging a chain’. Like other drivers have mentioned, you have to be in close radio range before I’ll even hear you.
    It is definately quieter and harder to strike up an interesting conversation. Years ago I’ve had other drivers tell me thier life stories over the hours running together and then we went our own way, it was a way to stay awake.
    My other pet peeve. Not turning off your headlights (not blinding them with hi beams at night) when someone passes you and saying thank you with your marker lights seems to have gone by the wayside. Yes, I know where the end of my trailer is but it’s just like a wave on a two lane road when you meet an oncoming driver. It just makes the road a friendlier place.

  • John Scott

    Kind of gave up on the CB. So much negative talk and foul mouth people who do not even have their facts straight on what they are complaining about. The job itself is bad let alone hearing it constantly from Channel 19.

  • Clint Seals

    I am one of the old school drivers 40 years and I love my CB it is a great tool for a lot of heads up info as well as a way of passing the time . I also use it believe it or not to try and school and give a lot of the truckers out here a piece of my mind when they are doing stupid things especially when they are doing unsafe and impolite driving. I guess you could say I am a driver conscience inspirer.
    1979 Oregon State ATA Truck Roadeo Champion 5 axle Semi- Van Class

  • piedrier011

    5? when we switched in the 70S it was from 10 to keep from splashing 9 the emergency channel

  • Ladyhawke

    I always have mine on, but rarely talk on it. I got tired of being told that I am suppose to be barefoot pregnant in the kitchen cooking or being told what the jerk on the other end wanted to do with me. Add it CB fights with excessive cussing, wanna be DJs and wanna be preachers, it just makes it a miserable thing to listen to, but I keep it on mainly in case there is something going on with my truck or load and another hand might actually be nice enough to let me know.

  • Jonh Wayne

    way to many Super Truckers,whom for their years of experience think they should be the only ones on the road, as if they were Gods gift to the Industry. I’ve only done this for 20 years and own a small fleet of 10 units and YES i drive one my self to stay connected to reality; but the bunch of Racism and Hate it’s unbearable on 19 and yes i do miss the old ways when i started but just like anything else changes in this industry are inevitable so instead of being the foul mouth,angry, racist Super Trucker, out there LEAVE your mark on someone and PAY IT FORWARD by helping a new comer in need of some good advice.remember the sun shines for everyone!

  • Donna

    You said a mouthful there … I still wave at oncoming drivers when I’m on the two-lane; I turn my lights off/on to say “c’mon back over” and I flash my taillights to say “thanks” …. I still use some of the old school handsignals to warn of brakechecks and inspections ahead …. of course, I’ve been driving since 1978 and learned how to be courteous, not ignorant and rude like some many of today’s “drivers”

  • No Reform

    Most truckers in the Southwest are illegal aliens..they have their OWN mexican only channels 5 and 7….if you are an ENGLISH SPEAKER on Channel 19…you will not hear a thing.

  • William McKelvie

    Hey Daniel, Where have you been? Find me on facebook bro.

  • Daniel Kupke

    Oh I’m just hanging out out here in Vegas ??!!

  • The Shadow on the Base

    Here in Montreal, channel 19 has definitely become very quiet since about 2011.

    The reasons given include the increase of GPS usage, cellphones, transport companies’ over-reactive restrictions against distracted driving, younger drivers’ apathy toward “old technology”, language barriers, heckling, etc.

    In spite of all that, the bottom line is that CB radio will continue to be essential for emergencies, traffic and road condition reports, and–yes–good old conversation. Never mind the bad guys. Ignore them. They eventually fade out of range, anyway.

    From my base station I am glad to assist out-of-town drivers who cannot read the French signs, who may have been given outdated directions by their dispatchers, who may not know the correct exit numbers or which bridges or tunnels to take or to avoid, or drivers who are unaware of the latest roadwork areas and detours–vital information which GPS cannot always be relied upon to provide.

    American drivers in particular may not even be aware that their existing GPS map software may NOT include Canadian routes–a situation easily remedied by accessing their provider’s online upgrades to an inclusive North American package.

    Furthermore, Google maps and other relevant websites have become an enormous asset for me on my base station in locating drivers’ destinations, their clients’ phone numbers, and so on.

    Silence may be golden, but the CB radio is and will continue to be a valuable tool. Use it. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.