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 rumours 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 legalised." 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. was 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 organised 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 synthesised sets appeared, everyone wanted one but they were hard to get in South Australia so the club organised 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 organisation, gave them every opportunity and the members would change channels rather than antagonise 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 organisations, affiliate or otherwise, should cater for members in their own state. We referred all interstate inquiries to organisations that were closer to their region and accepted applications from South Australia only. We still believed in one major body doing the push for legalisation 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.
1976: Over the New Year break we had our first visit from the A.C.R.M. Morwell Committee with much awaited news of what had been happening at executive level. In February it was our first A.G.M. There were seventy-two members in all and the A.G.M. was well attended. The old committee was returned to office and a new position was created, that of Public Relations Officer. Ray Farmer was elected as our first PRO.
Now is a good time to do some name-dropping. John Williams, then a reporter for one of the radio stations, always contacted us for a comment regarding CB articles and he was always available to help when we needed something pushed. Another was Jerome Cordeaux; Ray and I spent hours doing talk back shows with Jerome. Ian Wilson, a Local Member for Parliament, was invaluable in contacting the Minister for Postal and Telecommunications. He would prompt answers to that which we could get no response. Ian also initiated the issue of media releases to us. At first he would have his secretary pass on copies of his but in the end we got them direct. Ian Wilson also opened our Seminar in February 1977, but more of that later. Most importantly, it was Dianne Beer’s 1975 article in the Messenger that started the ball rolling and had it not been for her, nothing would have flowed as easily as it did.
The membership was now too large to hold meetings at members’ houses so we looked around for suitable lodgings and settled on the State Emergency Services Headquarters at Northfield. We also introduced meetings each month, when previously they were every two months and soon we needed to change our venue again. In June our numbers reached one hundred and the new meeting place was the Northern Districts Y.M.C.A. Hall at Kilburn.
In July we started preparing for our biggest promotion yet, "SEMINAR 77," to be held on the Australia Day long weekend in January. It was a mammoth task to organise and two extra members were opted onto the committee to assist. We also introduced Auxiliary Membership to cater for the many people who wanted to help but for whatever reason, weren't full members. Membership was now around 150 and in the first month, 13 auxiliary members joined.
September was one of the busiest months ever. The invitations for SEMINAR 77 were now printed, 2000 to be exact and they were sent, posted and hand delivered to all corners of Australia. The response was initially very slow but we assumed this was due to uncertainty and did not panic immediately. During times of skip, the members pushed the cause over and over and eventually Australia listened. Inquiries started to come in, we were asked about accommodation, our plans and our purpose. No longer was it felt a doomed exercise.
The Minister for Postal and Telecommunications, Eric Robinson, had invited all interested bodies to submit a submission regarding Citizen Band Radio and as the seminar was only three months away, it was decided that our submission should be held over until after the seminar. The submission would then include accurately, the views of all the various clubs that attended.
We also had to plan "EXPO 77," an electronics spectacular that was to be held at the Wayville Show Grounds just one week prior to the seminar. To make things worse, Channel 2 contacted us about doing a segment for "TODAY AT ONE." This segment was brilliant, we had our say, we had extended airtime and we were invited to come back again for a future programme. As a result of that programme, our numbers increased rapidly. We now had 170 members and 17 auxiliary members. However, you don't get members without applications and again many interstaters tried for membership, again we had to knock them back. Many of the applications came from interstate truckers who, because of their jobs, could put South Australian addresses on their application forms. By the time we realised what was going on, it was too late, they were already signed up and the precedent was set. So, in order to be fair, we accepted applications from anyone who could provide a South Australian address, even though we suspected they lived interstate.
This arrangement didn’t suit all truckers though and their applications were becoming very frequent. Local membership from within their own states no longer catered for their needs either and it was obvious something had to be done. Some of the truckers were quite well known to the South Australian Committee and we had many discussions about the problem. We finally decided to hold a meeting where all truckers could have their say and the venue would be at the South Australian and Victorian border. All truckers were asked to at least stop and give their views but those who had the time were urged to stay for the meeting. The committee of ACRM flew to Bordertown and from there we were driven to the border. As Chairman, I opened the meeting and after much discussion, a motion was put to start a new club. The club would be "Trucker's Radio Australia" (T.R.A.) and the call signs would reflect the state the member came from. TRS denoted South Australia, TRV was Victoria, and so on. The club would cater for the needs of truckers in particular and it could accommodate membership from all states. The Committee was elected and for the new club to be an affiliate of the A.C.R.M. the initial papers were drawn up. We left Bordertown confident that the move was correct. The T.R.A. proved to be a long-standing viable organisation and truly a part of the early C.B. history.
In October the numbers went over the 200 mark and another 50 members joined in November. By December there were 310. The meetings were a place where friends could chat and we made sure that there were enough social activities, observation trials, barbecues and the like, so "getting to know you" wasn't too difficult. For Xmas '76," 90 members including their families descended upon the unsuspecting proprietors of the Hahndorf Mill. A bus was arranged to get us there and back and we had a ball. The place catered for about 200 people so we decided that night, we would do it again for Xmas '77, only this time we would fill the place.
Christmas 1976 was already hectic but there was one important undertaking to be done. Before anything could be put forward at the seminar, or included in a submission to the Department for Postal and Telecommunications, we had plenty of researching to do, research that had to be accurate so our first incident reports were created. Our aim was to accurately formulate criteria that were based on fact and the incident reports would be used to corroborate our claims. The statistics proved invaluable to our cause but more than that, for the first time ever, we had been made horribly aware of the many calls we handled of an emergency nature.
1977: We were in the very early stages of negotiating affiliation with R.E.A.C.T. in America, when we heard about one of their promotional films, "WHERE SECONDS COUNT." General Motors sponsored REACT, in the States, and through General Motors in Australia we were able to get hold of a copy of the film. The film was very popular but as it was the only copy, we often had trouble getting it for the necessary promotions. After much red tape and some discussion with all parties concerned, we were given permission to make copies of the film. Two copies were made; one for Morwell and one for South Australia. The film was taken everywhere and shown till most of us knew the dialogue off by heart. Armed with this new material, we approached organisations like ROTARY and LIONS for sponsorship. A far wider and more influential range of people was now accepting us.
We were now close to finalising the planning stages of the seminar. We had found someone who was prepared to open it, we had a criteria base to work from and we had formalised our proposals. Our proposals needed to be both convincing and achievable. Achievable because our research showed that many of the clubs would be asking for the impossible and convincing because we believed there wasn't going to be a second shot at a CBRS.
In January our numbers started at 420 but by the end of EXPO 77 we had another 185 members on the books. EXPO 77 proved to be our biggest, single, publicity drive ever. Some of the members took holidays in order to cover the stall and others were rostered on as time permitted. The EXPO may have finished but our work hadn’t, the seminar was now less than a week away. The venue for the seminar was a caravan park near Victor Harbour and a holiday house at Aldinga became committee headquarters for the final preparations. Dave Halyer and Joe Bastien from Morwell also joined us. We envisaged that the whole thing, from start to submission, would take about two weeks so we all took holidays to cater for that.
"SEMINAR 77" Australia Day long-weekend January 1977: The visitors started arriving on the Friday and they continued to come right through the night. Fortunately we were ready for them and as we had almost taken over the Caravan Park, the caretaker wasn't too upset.
Day 1: Saturday was, according to the programme, "Arrival and meet the people," but by Saturday morning, there were over 200 country and interstaters booked in to the caravan park and meeting the people was proving to be quite a task. The answer was to split our resources, the committee concentrated on talking to the representatives of the various clubs and our members did their best to entertain the troops. We did manage to work out a programme that fitted in with our schedule though and sufficient time was allowed for all to have their say. By Saturday night, another 60 people had come from interstate and many of the locals were starting to filter in. Needless to say, there was very little sleep that night. After all, it wasn't every day this many CB'ers congregated in one place. Many pleasurable hours were spent putting faces to call signs.
Day 2: The last of the locals arrived Sunday morning and it was now down to business. The seminar started on time, at 10.00 a.m., with a welcome by the South Australian Committee and a general overview of the Australian Citizen Radio Movement by the Morwell Committee. This was followed by introductory talks from a few of the representatives of the various clubs.
After lunch the seminar was officially opened. Ian Wilson, M.P. did the honours and he was awarded honorary membership in ACRM. He was presented with the call sign CB 500 and an official club tee shirt, which he wore for the rest of his talk. The rest of the afternoon consisted of talks, debates and even arguments, before settling on a basis for our submission. Some of the groups still wanted the impossible and as it would mean jeopardising our own submission, we were unable to accommodate their demands. As a compromise, it was agreed that they could submit their own, but in their own name and not as representatives of any of the affiliating clubs.
Tea was followed by the promotional film, "Where Seconds Count" and then more talks. Finally, after much discussion, prompting and coercion, we achieved our goal. The A.C.R.M. was on the right track and we had the sanction of most of the groups that attended.
The rest of the night was devoted to starting new divisions of the A.C.R.M. and organising affiliations with already established clubs. 11.00 p.m. , the official close time, came and went, there was very little sleep that night either.
Day 3, Monday, went pretty well as expected. Plans were discussed and finalised, committees were set up and closer liaison between groups was assured. By evening the place was deserted, everyone had either gone home, or was heading home. Everyone but us that is, we now had the unenviable task of collating the mountain of paperwork and writing the submission.
With the seminar over and the submission written, it was back to Adelaide, back to the regular "run of the mill" ACRM business and of course, work. We still had plenty to do, but the slower pace was welcomed. February meant the A.G.M. and the elections would soon be upon us. Our numbers continued to swell and we had hoped to have a bigger meeting place by then but members hung out of doors and crevices everywhere. We only had seating capacity for 200.
On the 28th of February we got final confirmation from REACT in the States that the necessary affiliation papers were on their way. As we were keen to get going and because they had already sent over sample badges and stickers, we were given verbal approval to begin setting up an Australian division of REACT. Obviously much planning had to take place and as March was the 2nd birthday of ACRM SA, we hoped to announce the affiliation at the general meeting. Other interstate divisions were simultaneously doing the same and there was a great feeling of success. ACRM's aims were threefold. The first was to make the public aware of citizen band radio; this we had certainly done. The second, to gain a legal CB service for Australia, was now close to fruition and lastly, the establishment of an emergency monitoring service. With the current negotiations now positive, this last aim seemed inevitable.
Another major change to ACRM was being undertaken as we now had over 600 members encompassing most of the state. Even the metropolitan area was too large for satisfactory management and some of the members had to travel very long distances to attend meetings. The best way to overcome this was to create regions that could cater for the members in their area. The Adelaide Committee became the Management Committee and Regional Directors, who attended the Management Committee Meetings, were appointed to be our contact people on the committees of each area. There was an automatic invitation to all regions to participate in each other's functions and of course, all were welcome at the Adelaide meetings.
In March, as planned, we announced the formation of REACT but before we could enjoy the fruits of our labour, we found out we had a management problem and REACT in the States now refused to have any thing to do with us. We were almost back to square one. Almost, except we had the money, we had the means and we had the monitors, all we needed was a name.
For the next month we had the buzz of legalisation to contend with. The papers and news broadcasts spoke of nothing else. The Minister, in his discussions about the submissions from clubs and organised lobby groups, was reported in the papers as saying, "I'm disappointed in the lack of submissions from individuals." The article indicated that people would not send in submissions because they feared it was a trap and that their names and addresses would be passed to the Radio Inspectors. This prompted the Minister to respond again, assuring everyone that all submissions were treated as confidential. Many operators then got the idea that if you sent in a submission, you were safe and on-air procedures for some, became very blasé. This, in turn, meant the number of idiots increased rapidly and bucket-mouths become fairly common.
We now had close to 700 members on the register and we wondered where it would end. When we devised the CB 5?? call sign, we had no idea the numbers would get so high and the thought of a five digit number, like Charlie Baker 51154 was hard to comprehend, let alone use. The solution was to back-fill numbers. When a member resigned, or let his membership lapse, the number was reissued. The call sign no longer reflected the number of members, in fact the total membership, past and present, approached 1000 but it did stop our call signs going to five digits.
In April we moved to a new meeting place, the Y.M.C.A. Hall in Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide. It could seat 400 comfortably and at one meeting we had 360 members, again we wondered if it would be big enough.
By May 1977 we had taken over from Morwell as the leaders in the fight for legalisation. Everything was done in consultation with Morwell and we had their sanction but South Australia had grown to be the biggest, single entity of the A.C.R.M. in Australia and we had the respect that we deserved.
Fortunately, we did have Morwell ACRM’s respect and we survived the REACT fiasco but our bad management had put paid to any sort of reconciliation with REACT in the States. Morwell ACRM negotiated hard and long to save the affiliation with REACT but because of Adelaide's bungle, REACT refused to have anything to do with Australia. Just two months after its inception, the A.C.R.M. withdrew all its backing and a very feeble, unofficial, Adelaide division of REACT was left to flounder on its own.
A change of plans was necessary; one that would appease all and still fit in with the tight schedule ahead. The name "Australian Citizen Radio MONITORS" had been bandied around within the committee for some months and now seemed a good time to put it to a test. We started promoting the name and it's purpose and, at the same time, advertised for a State Administrator to set up the operations
Also in May, Frank Aue (Secretary) and I, attended a meeting with the Minister for Postal and Telecommunications in Melbourne where we learned that a CB service was inevitable and soon to be a reality. The Bill had gone before Cabinet and unless rejected, we would have a C.B.R.S. within three months. On the 23rd of June 1977, we had the first official word that licences would be available after the 1st of July.
With only one phase left to achieve and legalisation just around the corner, we had to get our skates on so Ray Farmer, who had done his P.R.O. job well, was put in charge of setting up the A.C.R.M. (Monitors). Initially we intended establishing base stations that would be located in key areas and manned 24 hours a day but as we were running out of time we decided to put the service on air as soon as possible.
By now, a chapter of CREST had started in Adelaide and some of the members from the failing REACT decided to affiliate with them. However, CREST's structure of hierarchy did not suit everybody and many REACT monitors resigned rather than join CREST. Monitors from the Gawler/Barossa region were among them so they opted to continue monitoring but use the call signs, G.E.S. (Gawler Emergency Service) followed by their old REACT numbers. On the 30th of June they voted unanimously in favour of joining the newly formed A.C.R.M. Emergency service, the Australian Citizen Radio Monitors
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