Citizens' Band: The beginning.

The North Shore Emergency Association (N.S.E.A.) was founded in 1966 by a small group of CB radio operators interested in promoting public service through the use of their personal two-way radios. The group's purpose was to create a network of qualified people to coordinate individual public service radio volunteers to: A) Provide 24 hour, around-the-clock monitoring of CB Channel 9 to answer emergency and traveler's assistance calls; B) Provide two-way radio communications assistance at pre planned events ("Projects"), such as parades, bike/walk-a-thons, golf tournaments, carnivals, holiday safety patrols, etc.; and C) Provide two-way radio communications assistance in emergency/disaster situations, such as "Operation Skywarn" tornado spotting, American Red Cross disaster communications, flash flooding, etc.

Soon there more than a dozen CB base stations and as many mobile units maintaining a 24 hour watch on the then very popular 27.065 MHz CB emergency channel. Not only were hundreds of routine calls for assistance handled by NSEA participating radio stations in the Chicago north/northwest metropolitan area every year but a number of lives were saved as well.

Class A Citizens' Radio/General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)

As CB channels became more and more congested in the late 60's and early 70's, NSEA members turned to the more sophisticated Class A Citizens' Radio Service in the UHF. band. This service was the first (original) "CB", but, because it was located in the U.H.F. spectrum, equipment was substantially more expensive and very few individual and personal users were then making use of this band. By working together as a group, NSEA. members were able to buy and set up a U.H.F. Class A "Repeater" (mobile relay) station.

The Class A (G.M.R.S.) repeater brought high quality FM type communications to members as a highly reliable communications means over a substantial operating area. Not only are much smaller antennas required, but small, hand carried portable units are much more feasible. With the repeater a hand held is now as effective as a full fledged mobile. The higher UHF frequencies are much less prone to "skip" type interference, and the F.M. audio is nearly immune from weather related interference.

NSEA members first began moving to the Class A UHF service in 1969 (KAA 7948), and the NSEA repeater went into service at the beginning of 1971 (KAA 8142). The giant leap from 27 MHz Class D to 462 MHz Class A (G.M.R.S.) was the single most important advance in the history of our organization, and this communications medium remains the cornerstone of our operations today. It is easier than ever to obtain/renew a GMRS license online from the US Federal Communications Commission. Just go to www.fcc.gov and you can do it all there. And, more recently (2022), the cost of a license has been significantly cut to only $35.

The UHF Repeater

In 1971, when NSEA members decided to commit to buying and installing a repeater system, very few radio systems in the Class A band were being utilized for personal messages. Due to the high cost of equipment and the necessity to obtain a favorable (height above ground) antenna site for a repeater, almost all of the systems then were being operated by businesses. In January NSEA placed the first cooperatively licensed all personal use Class A repeater in the United States in service on the top of a building at Willow and Waukegan Roads, in Northfield, Illinois.

The repeater receives signals from NSEA mobile and portable units in the field transmitting on 467.675 MHz (the "input" frequency), and and simultaneously re-transmits these signals (at full power from the higher repeater antenna) on 462.675 MHz (the "output" frequency). All NSEA units actually listen to and receive these re-transmitted signals from the repeater station.

Repeater operation gave the group the ability to communicate reliably over a wide area in north/northwest metropolitan Chicago for a new cadre of volunteer and public service functions. In 1972 the repeater was moved to yet a more advantageous site on the top of Lutheran General Hospital, and the Park Ridge site continues to be a great regional communications resource. One of the first major projects in which the repeater played a pivotal role was the 1972 Western Open Golf Tournament, held at Sunset Ridge Country Club between Northbrook and Northfield. NSEA volunteers provided extensive communications assistance to the tournament officials over several days, including both on-course as well as off-course command and control functions.

NSEA members were instrumental in bringing UHF technology to other public service groups in CB, especially R.E.A.C.T. (Radio Emergency Associated Citizens Teams). Beginning in 1976 key NSEA members spent extensive time meeting with REACT teams in more than a dozen-and-a-half different states, bringing a portable repeater, together with a number of mobile and portable units for field demonstrations. NSEA members were able to obtain a temporary/unspecified license for the REACT national headquarters, which was utilized by the various teams around the country for the NSEA demonstrations.

As a result, over 200 personal use repeater systems (all on the same frequency) were set up throughout the United States. In recognition of this trend of explosive growth the Federal Communications Commission formally recognized 462/467.675 MHz as the national emergency and traveler's assistance channel in the then Part 95A Rules and Regulations. NSEA maintains a firm commitment to providing the maximum accessibility to our repeater for traveling "transient" operators from out of town. Our repeater is now tone access with 141.3 Hz (4A) (the nationally recognized "travel tone") for assistance to transient users.

Additional UHF Repeaters

Additional major leaps, following the original Park Ridge GMRS Heritage Repeater, have been addition of two new GMRS repeaters operating on GMRS channels 462.650 MHz and 462.700 MHz. These systems provide additinal two-way radio communications coverage in northeastern Illinois facilitating providing public service in accordance the our original mission.

"Operation Skywarn" Severe Weather Spotting

Use of personal two-way radio to assist the National Weather Service in early detection of tornados and other severe weather in the Chicago area goes back to the very first days of CB radio in the late 1950's. At one time in the mid 1960's the Weather Auxiliary Reporting Network (W.A.R.N.) had over 600 participating CB stations in three states. NSEA was a participating organization in this CB network, and has continued its participation in the current Weather Bureau "Operation Skywarn" program on U.H.F. A direct telephone link was established to the weather service which enabled our trained spotters to report sightings using the repeater. NSEA has in the past sponsored training seminars and lectures by N.O.A.A. personnel for members and other interested radio operators. Today we encourage all public spirited GMRS operators to take the Weather Bureau torodao spotter training and we post links to do so from time to time on our website.

Key NSEA members were also responsible for involving the Chicago amateur radio community in Skywarn as well. One such member, Rich Casey (also a licensed amateur radio operator, WA9LRI at that time), while serving simultaneously as a board member of NSEA and also as president of the Chicago FM Club (Ham), drew on his NSEA experience to promote Skywarn participation by area amateur radio operators as well. Today hundreds of such amateur radio operators also give generously of their time and equipment to increase the advance warning of severe weather in the Chicago area. Skywarn continues to be a vital part of area tornado detection and warning today, and NSEA continues to coordinate closely with the Radio Amateur (Ham) community in this vutal volunteer public service function.

Project Communications (Pre-Planned)

From the very beginning it was apparent that NSEA had much to offer other organizations such as the March of Dimes, the Diabetes Foundation, local police departments (Kenilworth and Winnetka), and Chicago Marathon doctor and ambulance operatrions, to name a few. We have provided trained radio operators to coordinate bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons, holiday safety patrols, marathon and other races, large parades and other events. Our group has become a recognized authority in volunteer GMRS radio command and control of event logistics, coordination, and even planning. See our NSEA GUIDE TO RADIO PROCEDURE link on our Home Page.

Projects are now our single most active communications and logistics efforts. More reent projects include: the Evanston Fourth of July Association parade and fireworks celebration, and various Walks and Bike-A-Thons for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society involving thousands of participants. Our largest single projects have been two-day long "MS Tour de Farms" 150 K bike rides in the DeKalb County, Illinois area. We set up temporary repeaters on GMRS channel .650 for the weekends to cover the large area that encompassed three Illinois counties each year.


Other Emergency Activities (Non Pre-Planned)

Many N.S.E.A. members have been involved in Red Cross Disaster services, Civil Defense (E.S.D.A.), EMA and other municipal assistance groups. This led to N.S.E.A. helping out these folks in times of emergency or when disaster struck. For many years we worked with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. N.S.E.A. members deployed for communications in damage assessment of fires, floods and tornados. We set up links between shelters, vehicles, command centers - where ever needed. Some NSEA members have also sereved as communications volunteers with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. NSEA continues to maintain readiness to respond to communications needs in times of emergency or disaster as part of our original purpose of promoting pubic service through personal two-way radio.

Weekly Radio Nets

Beginning in the later 1960's with CB, NSEA has conducted weekly radio nets to keep members in touch with one another, to make announcements, to maintain equipment readiness, and to insure the integrity of the communications package as a whole. These weekly nets continue today on the 462.675 MHz Heritage GMRS repeater as well as our other 2 GRMS systems on 462.650 MHz and 462.700 MHz. All licensed GMRS operators are welcome and invited to participate. We enjoy participation from other groups and individual operators. The nets can be heard on each Sunday evening starting at 7:00 P.M. Central Time. More information at: THE NSEA WEEKLY RADIO NET link on our Home Page.


As a rule, NSEA meetings are held every two months, and election of a board of directors once a year in late summer. Meetings are usually held at 7:30 P.M. weeknights in a local eatery or meeting room. Guests are welcome and more detailed information will be posted on this web site.

Our Website

This website, www.nsea.com  was established starting with the new millennium. We want to spread the word about what NSEA is and does. We hope you enjoyed your visit, learned more about us and GET INVOLVED! Submit an Online Information Form to request permission to utilize the NSEA affilaited GMRS repeaters for your 2-way radio personal communications and/or start the process to join our association.

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