The Sounds of White Vulnerability
Although film, television and mass-market CB radio ephemera represented CB as anti-authoritarian, its use frequently allied it with forces of law and order, certainly with a mostly white, male network of “good buddies” eager to effect control over their individual and community lives. In Los Angeles in particular, the local racial-political context during the years of the CB radio fad—roughly 1975–1978—created an ideal environment for such racialized uses of CB radio. I argue here that working- and lower-middle-class white men in Los Angeles in the 1970s used CB radio to create an audible sense of order. Faced with newspaper articles suggesting high levels of crime committed by black men against white people on L.A. freeways, and feeling a keen sense of isolation and cultural or socioeconomic vulnerability in their daily lives, they derived reassurance from hearing other apparently “white” voices of fellow citizens within the paradoxically vulnerable and impregnable environment of the private car on the public roadway.