Before cell phones and Twitter, we created CJOB CB Radio Traffic Reports. Lots of fun for everyone and a great public service. Recently, I read about the retirement of CJOB traffic reporter Brian Barkley. He did the job for 25 years! That got me thinking about how we did traffic reporting in Winnipeg at the start.
Forty years ago, Program Director John Cochrane asked me to take on a special project. Could I reach out to Winnipeg’s citizen band radio operators to gather road and traffic information during the rush hours? As a result, I did.
Prior to 1977, radio stations in smaller cities like Winnipeg did not do traffic reporting, other than when lots of people phoned in or the police reported problems. Aircraft were too expensive for smaller markets to run five days a week. But the CB radio craze of the 1970’s created an opportunity. Thousands of ordinary citizens put these two-way radios in their cars and were looking for reasons to use them.
At the time, there were 23 channels on CB and all used AM. Channel 9 was used for emergencies. Channel 19 was mainly monitored by truckers. Which channel should I use? I can’t remember why exactly, but we chose Channel 10. We set up our base station in one of our studios, and put a really good antenna on our tower at 930 Portage Avenue. Since our location was downtown, we figured that we would get decent coverage across Winnipeg. Also, putting the CB radio in a studio meant I could easily go “on air” with reports.
CJOB CB Radio Traffic Reports Worked Great
Without much fanfare, our morning host Red Alix simply announced one day that I was monitoring Channel 10. He invited any CB’er with traffic or road information to just give a call to “CJOB Base”. That’s all it took. And, call they did.
I used to get hundreds of calls from CB’ers every day. They told me about accidents, traffic jams and road construction problems. Sometimes, they just called to say hello. And they all worked together, relaying information from distant callers beyond my range. Pretty soon, we had the city covered with CJOB CB Radio traffic reports.
Some of the CB’ers even made me a personalized mug, shown above.