If you find yourself in a herd of CBer's, it won't take long before conversation turns to the radios themselves, and specific nostalgic stories related their favorite rigs of the past. Usually the brands discussed are the ones we all like to talk about: Browning, Tram, CPI, Stoner, Cobra, and President. One should not forget, ignore, or otherwise blow-off "Midland". Granted, they didn't actually make their own radios, but Midland rigs played a big part in the CB "Culture" (C.W. McCall signature radios for instance) by not only being popular, but priced within the reach of the everyday CBer.
Midland radios were stylish, inexpensive compared to their competitors, and while they had some shortcomings, if it wasn't for Midland CB's, it would have taken me a lot longer to get onto Sideband!
- 1. The radios were feature laden, yet less expensive
- 2. They offered the first handheld SSB CB
- 3. To do all of this, they had to cut corners. Midland radio were (and still are) mediocre at best when it came to adjacent channel rejection.
I was really itching to get onto SSB. Unfortunately SSB base stations were freaking expensive around 1970. Being a typical teenager, the "neat factor" played alot into what was catchy to the eye - for instance Regency's Imperial II DSB base was something I (at first) set my savings towards. It wasn't until I read up on DSB that I realized I wanted SSB, not DSB (no matter how cool it looked). There were several base rigs to choose from, but they were usually in the $450-$1000 range (much too expensive for a kid who worked in the Tobacco fields during the summer). However, Midland's 13-880b was within my reach at a totally unbelievably low price of $219.99!! And to correct myself: I really enjoyed that rig - until my neighbor with his PDL-2 and Browning came on-the-air. The Midlands frontend would shut down, and I'd be forced back on AM, using my E.F. Johson 124, which had much better protection against neighbors who lived too close...
This rig had an almost identical twin in the 13-885, which was rated at a higher wattage (the 880b was a 10 watt transceiver). I really enjoyed sideband with this rig - not only did it sound good, but it looked cool.....
Besides being less expensive, they (for the most part) kept cosmetics consistent - Black and Chrome, with only the number of knobs to distinguish each other (Sometimes it was hard to tell which radio was which because they looked so close!
The 13-857 (pictured in the upper right corner by the title) was one such of those infamous black and chrome rigs. I still have one, somewhere. It's beat up, ugly and scratched with paint spills on the cover, but it was always ready to work during trips when I had no other CB to use.
I've also owned the 79-290, which was a good vacation rig. Living where I do, it wouldn't make a good daily traveler due to the front end overload and splatter, but I made several memorable QSO's with it during it's years of service.
So what was YOUR favorite Midland?? Shoot me some email and let me know!