History 1974 - 1975

“The Australian Citizens Radio MOVEMENT” was an offshoot of the GL club in Morwell, Victoria. A.C.R.M. The MOVEMENT by Phil Richards

1974: “The Australian Citizens Radio MOVEMENT” was an offshoot of the GL club in Morwell, Victoria. They were relatively unknown to us and we were more than a little surprised that a whole bunch of illegal CB’ers were contemplating a mass gathering.. As the Convention grew nearer though, the reality of what was happening and the sheer magnitude of its effect on citizen band radio was becoming very clear. It was now time for Adelaide to get involved, so, although we were still a little apprehensive, a group of us started to prepare for the trip to Morwell. There had been rumors of the Radio Inspectors setting it up and the thought of that many CB operators in one place and ripe for the picking, was something to think about. However, the packing and final planning kept us occupied enough to forget our fears and as the departure date neared, we actually looked forward to the trip.

1975: Once we had arrived though and we were amongst the hundreds of CB’ers who had come from all over the country, we wondered why we had worried at all. There seemed to be a feeling of “safety in numbers” and we were now too busy for it to be of concern anyway. Talks from interested groups, clubs, and invited guests, all said the same thing, “We want CB legalized.” The best way to achieve this was to unify and form one group to represent all Australian CB operators. By the end of the Convention it was generally agreed that the A.C.R.M. be that body. I say generally; because a few groups, the N.C.R.A. were one of them, felt they had a large enough following to do a push of their own. The representatives from each interested group, including us, spent long hours formulating plans and the necessary affiliations required to carry out a successful lobby push against the government.

As soon as we were back in Adelaide, we organized a meeting to start a local division of the A.C.R.M. and as my house was already known to most, we held the meeting there. The first thing we had to do was find a name for the club. After considering many names, we settled on the “Charlie Baker Club.” We formed a committee, set the fees, and thirteen people became financial members. As a prefix to our call signs, we adopted CB-5, “CB” for “Charlie Baker” and “5” for our state. The call signs started at CB-501 and we allocated the first six numbers to the committee. Unlike America, where the CB’ers used handles like “Foxy Lady” and “Big Bopper” to identify themselves, we used a call sign and our handle was our name. The secretary’s first job was to sign the affiliation papers and mail them off to Morwell. The rest of the committee had to figure out where we were going to start this mammoth task. Luckily, we had plenty of encouragement from Morwell and once we got started the rest seemed to follow easily, almost automatically. All of the publicity was done under the auspices of the Australian Citizen Radio Movement, South Australian Division and the Charlie Baker Club provided the anonymity that was vital to our hobby. From within the Charlie Baker Club, the committee was able to carry out the requirements of the A.C.R.M. and still keep the general members isolated from all the attention we were attracting.

When the early 23 channel synthesized sets appeared, everyone wanted one but they were hard to get in South Australia so the club organized a buying group and we purchased the equipment at cost price, in bulk, from various interstate suppliers. The savings were passed on to the members and any profits went to the club. Some of the money went towards our very first magazine – Number 1, March 1975. It consisted of three pages, including the cover and it took about two hours to produce. We sent it, along with other introductory material, to all the papers and media houses we could think of in an attempt to get us known, which is ironic because prior to forming the A.C.R.M., we did our utmost to remain unnoticed. Now, with all this exposure on the radio, TV and in the newspapers, keeping our names and addresses secret seemed rather futile.

Our first response came in April 1975 from the “Messenger Newspapers.” The article read, “LOCAL PIRATES FIRE BROADSIDE AT GOVERNMENT” and it was followed by some excellent editorial. Other papers then jumped on the bandwagon and for a while, we were hot news. It didn’t take long before the newsreaders wanted to get statements from us every time there was a report about CB. Initially, it was only the bad things, like reports of CB’ers putting in false alarms but any publicity was good publicity – so we defended our cause religiously and waited for the tables to turn. As the club grew, so did our demand – hardly a week went by without us being contacted at some time for a comment on one thing or another.

In April we scored three new members, the Advertiser ran a feature on us and we put out magazine number 2, which had grown to four pages. In May, three new members joined and we openly invited anyone to attend our first outdoor meeting cum membership drive. The venue for the meeting was Carisbrooke Park and everyone attended. We had catered for the kids as well and the park turned out to be an ideal venue for the June meeting. Forty-nine people, including members, their families, and their friends, were in attendance. Our membership jumped to twenty-nine and from that intake, we picked up a person who was to become invaluable to the Movement – he was Ray Farmer, CB 525, with the handle of Mike.

In August we had thirty members, the magazine increased to six pages and we were starting to get articles and questions from members. Many of the “Letters to the Editor” requested information on “Q” codes, technical tips and information on anything that was new. The magazine now contained regular articles, much like the current Communicator. We had Pressie’s Prattle, Treasure Trove, Let’s Talk, DX Dribble, Tech Tips and others. It was a time when everything was new and there seemed to be an endless supply of material.

As the membership grew, so did the demand on the airwaves so the amateur radio operators, who, in a last ditch effort to retain their band, started to use 27 MHz more frequently. The Movement however, being a courteous organization, gave them every opportunity and the members would change channels rather than antagonize them. Not all of the radio hams were a problem though. A few of the amateurs used bogus call signs and talked to the CB’ers for hours. We got to know many of them well and they offered us many valuable tips and hints.

By December we had fifty-six members and we were still doing many successful radio talkback shows. Our popularity expanded fast, almost too fast, because we were now getting applications from country and interstate as well. Our division of the A.C.R.M. was set up to cater for South Australia only and we believed that the interstate organizations affiliate or otherwise, should cater for members in their own state. We referred all interstate inquiries to organizations that were closer to their region and accepted applications from South Australia only. We still believed in one major body doing the push for legalization but we felt that local groups could better cater for their needs. Where there were no groups or clubs we encouraged them to start their own and, as affiliates of ACRM, we helped them as much as we could.