Jefe's House

Talk Radio

by on Jul.01, 2001, under NYC, The Press

(Originally published as City section cover story, New York Times, 7/1/01.)

CB seems like a relic from another time, another place. Perhaps that’s why it is alive and well on New York’s highways.


Frank Puma, an engineer at NBC in Manhattan, talks on his CB radio while driving to work. "Its a community," he says of the CB world.

CHICKENBOY: Hey, who’s that out there? You got the Chickenboy over here.

193: (laughs) Chickenboy? Yeah, come on.

CHICKENBOY: I’m in Williamsburg. Metro and Graham. Where are you?

193: Yeah, roger. You got 193 on the Lower East. Roger?

(loud static interference)

CHICKENBOY: 193, come back with that. What’s your 20?

193: Yeah, man. Come on.

L-TRAIN: Yeah, talk to me, man. I’m right here. I’m L-Train, man. I’m L-Train.

The voices on the CB radio waves in New York are not those of lost truckers from Montana on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. They are the multicultural shouts of a thriving subculture: two men threatening to kill each other on Channel 6; angry complaints about livery drivers on 22; a heated debate on 27 about the shooting of Amadou Diallo, months after the event has disappeared from the front pages; an endless cackle of off-color remarks on 12; and on every channel, lots of ephemera, like that involving Chickenboy, 193 and L-Train.

CB has an image as a rural phenomenon. But in the big city, it functions as a way to build community, an urban version of the gathering on the porch of FULL NEW YORK TIMES STORY CONT’D HERE>>


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