The QSL card of KDW-6076

The Story of the
"United CBers of America"

By Gary, WD4NKA

I was clearing out the contents of a box a few nights back, and i came upon old QSL cards from a past life, my CB radio days. I had a lot of fun traipsing the band'o citizens back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and in time i was motivated to move on to obtain my amateur radio license. The motivation might have been the desire to talk over long distances, or maybe it was for the academic challenge, or perhaps both. Or maybe a singular event.

I looked over these cards, and a flood of memories invaded my mind as i lost awareness of the late hour. One particular QSL card brought me back to an unusual event which occured on a summer nite of nearly thirty years ago.

On this particular eve i was invited to join a party of the local "channel eleven" crowd headed over to what i assumed was a "Coffee Break", sort of a CBer's getogether.

It occured in the back yard of a CBer down the road . . . a country road, that is, which was several miles from my house. This CBer, known as "Red", had a bon-fire roaring in his back yard for the event. As it turned out, several hundred similar bon-fires were lit all across the country for this single event that evening.

The setting sun was casting it's last purple traces to remember the day as we pulled up in Red's driveway area, already teaming with bronco's, el-caminos, and harvesters. The aroma of cigarettes, beer, and Hai Karate hung heavily in the air. Over 40 men and teens, some with girlfriends, wives, and kids were gathered around the fire.

A Klan meeting? No, one of my black friends, Fonzie was there, too. Smiling.

At a given time, signaled by the nod of Red's Caterpillar hat, a CBer we all knew as the "Golden Knight" stood up to read a letter from a yankee fella way up north, a CBer who had pulled off one of the wierdest public movements in private radio history. Some of you folks who were CBers during this time might remember his call, because thousands used it. It became almost a mantra that rode eleven meter skip all over the 23 channel skies:

"KDW-six-zero-seven-six, the voice of Freedom, United CBers of America! "

"GK" read this the letter to the gathering crowd. I heard only part of it, something about the Federal intrusion upon the American public in the form of the FCC, something about civil rights, and something about free speech. Everyone was apparently in agreement, silent heads nodding, an occasional pop-top from a bud can breaking the reverie.

Initiated by Mr. Red, everyone pulled forth what turned out to be their CB wall certificates ( CBers were not licensed, but rather, the Station. Legally, the CB station was licensed to the owner, who's name appeared on the wall certificate.) . . . and tossed them into the bonfire, as i looked on. In small towns and burgs like ours in Goldenrod, Florida, across the United States that night thousands of CBers were doing the same thing. A planned, mass license burning. It was a strange ceremony, indeed. My license remained on my wall, however, with Ben Waple's signature on it. My station remained KDU-0979.

Here was the story behind the story, as explained by one of the license burners of that night:

KDW-6076 was the call issued to the fella that wrote the letter GK was reading, name here omitted, who on his application applied for ONE MILLION UNITS. By some snaffu, it got past the application process. The eight dollar application check was processed, and KDW-6076 wound up being the call used by one million "remote units". It sure sounded like a million, anyway. Since regulations made it technically illegal to call another station - - ( believe it or not, by law, CB stations which were not under the same license had to pre-arrange contacts. It was illegal to call another station just to call another station! There were also restrictions on which channels you were supposed to conduct base-to-base operations, base-to-mobile operations, etc, and all communications had to have a specific point: no hobby talk was allowed. Of course, from the very beginning these regulations were ignored in the main.)- - by being under the same license, they could jump over these technicalities . . . in theory.

They called themselves the "UCBA". They gloried in their great numbers, and this idea that they had somehow "tricked" the FCC by using it's own regulations against itself. This was the maneuver which was supposed to deliver a knock-out blow to the FCC, and free the Citizen's band from the shackles of Federal Regulation. Libertines, who felt that any Federal administration of any kind constituted a breach of rights.

The FCC responded that however his call was issued, by error or by coersion, it was patently illegal, and so were all those thousands of his call users, who were beginning to re-think the wisdom of those mass burnings.

Obviously the FCC could not go after everybody, but they did go after KDW-6076, which brought an end to the UCBA, soon thereafter taking it's place next to Cox's army, the Bull Moose party, and other movements that might have brought momentary awareness to a cause, but affected no real change, save filler for dull moments in history books.

It was at this time that the first attempt at a class"E" citizen's band was proposed, and dropped. I can't help but think this movement sunk that proposal.

The UCBA, as i remember it, spanned coast to coast, plus there were Canadian users of the UCBA call, something i thought rather odd. But then, this was a mass movement with sympathisers, seeking an emotional outlet, not necessarily a logical one.

One by one, most of the UCBA call users I was acquainted with dropped out of radio altogether. Those that remained i count as fellow hams today. Maybe we all learned something by this bizarre episode.

Perhaps the UCBA did do something constructive, after all . . . it showed that there is a right way and a wrong way to attempt change.

Good Providence in all your right endeavours.