What is a CB Handle?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Short, memorable names are the "handles" of CB users.
Short, memorable names are the "handles" of CB users.

A CB handle is a short but memorable nickname used by a citizen's band radio enthusiast while broadcasting. A typical handle might be "Lucky Dave" or "Big Red" or even something less likely to be copied, such as "Skinky Do-Rag" or "Mister Dodo Head." The point is to create a unique identity while communicating with others on a CB radio channel. In a sense, this nickname is the forerunner of the avatars and nicknames often created for anonymity while participating in web chats or online forums.

Sometimes a CB handle reveals something about the user's occupation.
Sometimes a CB handle reveals something about the user's occupation.

Sometimes, a CB handle reveals something about the user's occupation, such as "Mama Flapjacks" or "Gas Hog." This shorthand could come in very handy for other CBers looking for a good restaurant or gas station nearby. Other regular CB users may have more obscure handles, such as an explosives hauler calling himself "Nervous Charlie" or a school bus driver calling herself "Mama Hen." A good nickname often lets others know something interesting about the user.

Another typical handle could describe a personal hobby or interest. CB radio listeners might discover "Quilting Bee" or "Old Fisherman" chatting on the airwaves, for example. An avid football fan might use "Pigskin Pete," or a baseball fan might use "Hammering Tony." When it comes to selecting a handle based on a personal interest, the trick is to keep it short, memorable, and as unique as possible. Because the frequencies assigned to citizens' band radio usage are regulated — by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in the US — obscene or offensive names are generally discouraged.

Originally, CB radio users in the US had to apply for a license and use an assigned series of call letters as personal identifiers. When the FCC allowed 23 channels (later raised to 40) to be used by unlicensed citizens, the call letter system gave way to the more informal use of a unique CB handle. During the 1970s, CB radio usage became extremely popular in the United States, and certain nicknames and the personalities behind them became infamous. CB lingo also became a popular form of communication among those in the know.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon275181

I knew a guy whose handle was Pigeon Poop.

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    • Short, memorable names are the "handles" of CB users.
      Short, memorable names are the "handles" of CB users.
    • Sometimes a CB handle reveals something about the user's occupation.
      Sometimes a CB handle reveals something about the user's occupation.