How to Listen to a CB Radio on the Internet
By John Papiewski
Updated September 26, 2017
You can satisfy your curiosity about Citizens Band radio without spending big bucks on specialized electronic gear. The internet is host to many websites that livestream CB radio channels from around the world. Armed with only a computer, a casual listener can “tune in” to conversations ranging from local rumors to life-or-death emergencies.
About CB Radio
The Citizens Band, a distinct block of radio frequencies (27 MHz or 11 meters) separate from TV and other signals, was created in the 1940s to serve the general public. CB, unlike most kinds of radio transmitters, doesn't require a license. In the U.S., the Citizens Band is organized into 40 distinct radio channels, each designated by a number from 1 to 40. Anyone can listen, but only one person can talk on a channel at any given time; over the years, CB etiquette evolved to handle this limitation. By law, radio power was limited so a signal travels only a few miles in any given direction, although this is enough for most local users. For example, mobile tradespeople such as carpenters and plumbers used it to communicate between job sites and the home office. Truckers use CB, chatting about everything from road conditions to personal gossip. In the 1970s, the cost of CB equipment dropped, opening it to generations of amateurs and home hobbyists. Although cellphones have taken over much of CB’s home turf, an active CB community still exists.
Listening on the Internet
The way to find streaming CB radio sites on the internet is the same way you’d look for anything: go to your favorite search engine and type in a few words. A search for terms such as “CB streaming online” reveals many free sites dedicated to CB radio listening. Note that though CB itself is range-limited, the internet is not; you can easily listen online to CB chatter happening in any part of the world. You need only an internet-connected computer, a browser and a pair of speakers.
How it Works
A CB host website will have actual equipment that picks up radio signals and feeds a live audio stream to the internet. The channels offered for listening are displayed as embedded media on the web page; simply click the play button to listen. Though some sites have a fixed channel, others let you change channels with a mouse click.
Online Police Scanners
Police band radio is a close cousin to CB, as they are both employ multichannel low-power signals intended for short-range broadcasts. You can find links for webpages that livestream police radio transmissions, letting you follow dramatic real-life crimes and emergencies as they unfold.
Example CB Sites
The site livecbradio.com livestreams CB radio from a receiver in Lincoln, NE. It also has a police scanner. Cqdx11.com streams from Melbourne, Australia. Both sites employ livestreaming technology from YouTube. In addition to live audio, the sites display information about signal quality and other technical data in real time. CBradioclub.com has CB receivers in a few different parts of the U.S. and works with the Ivideon streaming service. It offers an interactive channel selector for registered users.
Smartphone developers have created apps that simulate the CB experience. They use the internet to carry conversations instead of radio signals, so you cannot use them to monitor CB channels, just other app users. But you can use these apps to have conversations with people in much the same way as CB. Because they use the internet, the range of most of these apps is unlimited.
- Brush up on your CB radio 10 codes, which commonly include codes 10-1 through 10-34, to further your understanding of CB chatter.
- As an uncensored, public radio service used by adults, CB channels may contain profanity or language inappropriate for minors.
Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since 1991. Things that get him excited include audio electronics, Arduino, nuclear fusion and nanotechnology. His technical articles have appeared online in various outlets including seattlepi.com, atlantic.net, and ourpastimes.com. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance." Please - no workplace calls/emails!