How to Get a CB Radio Handle & Call Numbers


"What are your numbers?" or "What's your handle?" mean about the same today as they did when the popularity of the CB radio was at its peak in the 1970s. But the dynamics of getting and using a CB handle or call letters have changed since then.


  • The Federal Communications Commission started the the citizens band for individuals and businesses in the 1940s. There are 40 channels, or frequencies, available for use with a CB radio. Up until 1983 the FCC required CB users to be licensed by the FCC. Each user was issued a set of unique call letters that identified his particular radio. Since then, though, the FCC has dropped the licensing requirement.


  • Nowadays, you don't receive call letters from the FCC. All you do is turn on your radio and start communicating. If you want call letters, you're free to create your own. But most CB users, evidently, opt for adopting a CB handle or nickname, if anything. In the words of the FCC: "You may use an on-the-air pseudonym ('handle') of your choosing." Still, since the citizens band is regulated by the FCC, it's considered good practice to choose a handle that's not offensive or obscene in some way.


  • For novelty's sake, if you do want to receive "unofficially official" call letters, you can register for some with the National Citizens Band Center (link in Resources). The NCBC offers memberships that allow you to obtain call letters and to benefit from other perks, such as access to special club publications and to the overall membership community. You pay a fee and give your personal information, and then you become a member and can receive your NCBC call letters.


  • Your personal CB handle depends partly on the following principle: identify yourself before someones does it for you. Your CB handle should reflect your personality and what distinguishes you in whatever community you're a part of. A classic example could be a large man with red hair who's known as "Big Red." The trucking community is largely responsible for some of the more colorful CB handles. In fact, there's even a general lingo accepted by the trucking community at large, which includes CB handles it's assigned to others. For example, city police officers are known as "city kitties," county sheriffs as "county mounties" and drivers as "hands."

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