Line One
My CB is an honor student

Bill Hudgins

Today’s trucks carry more computing power than the average PC had a few years ago, yet not much has changed in the CB. True, we have weather alerts and widgets that squeegee off some of the static. And we must show we-are-not-worthy gratitude to the geek who gave us the “Roger Beep.”

But what have the digital demigods done for our CBs lately?

A few days ago, I listened to a couple of drivers griping – on Channel 19 – about how everyone was talking at once – on Channel 19. Why didn’t they simply go to another channel? Wouldn’t it be cool if your CB could put you on a cleaner channel automatically?

About that same time, I had to call a credit card company about my account. Before I could talk to a human, I had to tell a computer all of my vital statistics. It used something called voice recognition software, which literally understood and translated what I said to the computer.

While I was waiting, it hit me – this technology could be in the next-generation CBs. You could create a line of intelligent CBs – yeah, I hear you saying they’d be smarter than some of their users. Well, they would be, and here’s why:

These honor student CBs would use the software to scan incoming and outgoing transmissions for what the speaker is saying. It would then relay the signal to specific, pre-set channels – like satellite radio has oldies channels, blues, country, sports and so on.

Channel 19 would be the entry port, and after a few words, conversations would be automatically routed. Here’s a proposed partial channel line-up:

Channel 2 would be the main channel for directions, at least at first. The great thing about voice recognition software is that it is getting more and more sophisticated, and it can “learn.” So after a while, it could distinguish between “Where’s Waitawhile Produce?” and “Which way to Tucson?” and send the request to the proper channel – you could set it to suit yourself.

You guys discussing girls in the cars below you, go to Channel 21 – as in, you gotta be at least 21. Funny, I’ve never heard a woman trucker discussing a guy in a car (except if he’s doing something weird).

I’d make Channel 13 the political discussion channel to honor the original 13 states. To talk only with people of your own persuasion, liberals could turn one click left to 14, while conservatives would go one click to the right, to 12. Those who want to start their own country can jump right to Channel 23. For a long time, 23 was the last CB channel, so it’s appropriate for this line of yakking.

Logbook discussions would be on Channel 9. Yeah, I know this is the channel the cops monitor, but I’m afraid FMCSA will insist on listening in. They seem determined to look over your shoulder every way they can.

Major sports would have their own separate channels: Baseball on Channel 4 since there are four bases; NFL on Channel 6, as in 6 points for a touchdown; NHL – well, they ain’t playing these days, so what’s there to talk about? Golf would be on Channel 18.

And for those into NASCAR – only one choice here: 3.

Finally, Channel 41 is reserved for come-ons, “commercials,” deeply discounted electronics in the back parking row, CB Rambos, potty mouths, bigots and freaks who like to howl, bark and belch through their kickers. What’s that you say, there is no Channel 41? Exactly.

Bill Hudgins may be reached at