Fisher-Price Walkie-Talkie Picks Up Trucker Talk; Now Tot Wants Pot And Strippers

A mom in West Virginia says her 3-year-old’s Diego walkie-talkie, which is supposed to have a range of 20 feet, picked up some blue talk from truckers who may have been 275 miles away. “They said we should go smoke some weed, and were talking about being in a strip bar, some really explicit things,” the mother told the Asssociated Press.

So far, the mother isn’t talking lawsuits or anything:

Pancaro, who bought the toy on Aug. 2, said she sent a letter to Fisher-Price, urging it to either fix the toy so it wouldn’t pick up CB chatter or pull the product from the shelves.

Fisher-Price told the Associated Press they’ve tried twice to contact her but have been unsuccessful.

You can still buy the magic trucker-talkies from Walmart, but your odds of picking up drive-by chatter are probably slim. It’s more likely the truckers were using (illegal?) transmitters to boost their range, or sunspot activity jazzed up the ionosphere and made the signals bounce further.

“Mom says child’s toy had a mouth like a trucker” [MSNBC via The Business Sheet] (Thanks to Hilary!)
(Photo: igb)

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  1. TMurphy says:

    I know some walkie-talkies I’ve used as a kid picked up chatter from truckers, though I’d rarely understand any of it due to the quality of the signal it picked up. The only new part here seems to be that the kid heard something not so kid-appropriate.

  2. Subliminal0182 says:

    “You can still buy the magic trucker-talkies from Walmart, but your odds of picking up drive-by chatter are probably slim.”

    Damn!

  3. Triborough says:

    My guess is that the factory in Red China that made the toy had lax quality control and some components for something else got stuck in it. At least it isn’t testing positive for lead.

  4. sarahq says:

    I don’t think this is exclusive to this particular walkie-talkie. Twenty years ago (I’m thirty now), my next-door neighbor had a toy walkie-talkie that did the same thing.

  5. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    It’s a learning experience isn’t it not? Did they speak in spanish as well?

  6. sarahq says:

    I don’t think this is exclusive to this particular walkie-talkie. Twenty years ago (I’m thirty now), my next-door neighbor had a toy walkie-talkie that could do the same thing.

  7. Canino says:

    Now Tot Wants Pot And Strippers

    Who doesn’t?

  8. warf0x0r says:

    Someone please think of the children!!!

  9. timmus says:

    This is not Fisher Price’s fault. This is the fault of truckers “working skip” illegally. Those walkie talkies operate at 49-50 MHz (and they obviously are tuned right otherwise she would have returned them), so a trucker would have to be tuning down to 24.5-25 MHz, which is almost unheard of but not out of the realm of possibility. Blame the FCC (whose enforcement is probably poorly funded), the industries selling illegal add-ons, and the truckers themselves.

    “I’d just hate for little kids to be hearing things like that, and I thought maybe they didn’t know.”

    That’s why you’re supposed to supervise them.

  10. Ye canna change the laws of physics cap’n!

    This is going to happen sometimes. Radios sometimes pick up signals from hundreds of miles away. TVs sometimes start transmitting SOS signals (completely true story). That ubiquotus FCC copy you see on every electronic device is there because this stuff happen and manufacturers have to try and prevent it. But they can’t stop every radio signal in the universe…

  11. As a trucker I have to say that I am really fucking tired of hearing these kids talking about their my little ponies and care bears over the CB. This is getting out of hand. I was trying to route my diesel rig through the Sierra overpass and all I could hear was “I made a big poopy. Where’s my Barney doll?”

    Damn you Fisher Price!

  12. jamesdenver says:

    @twophrasebark:

    physics?

  13. MyPetFly says:

    @twophrasebark:

    He he… best I’ve read today!

  14. Quilt says:

    This story is a farce. Truckers don’t smoke pot. They’re all about the blow.

  15. Marshfield says:

    At least it’s not like a Chatty-Kathy doll that swears, or a barbie that says, among other thing “Math is hard”

    But it’ll probably make the 11:00 news tonight

  16. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    Too funny. Can’t shelter your kids-c’mon they’ll find out about that stuff eventually

  17. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    And how on earth is this fisher-price’s fault? Sit down and talk to your kids about marijuana. And supervise them. And know that the little walkie-talkies will pick up radio signals from outside the microcosm of your house

  18. Orv says:

    There are only a few bands that cheap, unlicensed radios can use. There’s the citizens’ band, the FRS band, and the 49-50 MHz band. The fact is anyone can transmit in these bands, for any reason; there’s nothing Fisher Price can do about it. The FCC has also been extremely lax about enforcing limits on these devices; it’s not uncommon to find truckers running far more than the 5-watt legal power limit on their CBs, for example.

  19. VOIDMunashii says:

    I used to have fun with starngers on walkie talkies when I worked in a toy store. Our intercom system was broken, so we were using walkie talkies to communicate between the storefront and the back room, and we would oaccaionally get locals on their walkie talkies.

    Ironically, the people we picked up were generally far more obnoxious than we were, and we were really trying.

  20. Orv says:

    Oh, and it’s not surprising that a walkie talkie with a 250′ range picked up a signal from 270 miles away. The walkie talkie’s transmitter probably puts out about 1/10th of a watt. It’s not uncommon for truckers using “kickers” (linear amplifiers) to transmit with 1000 times that much power.

  21. VOIDMunashii says:

    @timmus:

    I don’t think it’s so much that the FFCC is underfunded, it’s just that they are too busy trying to keep people from saying naughty words and showing boobies on tv to go after other things.

  22. brian25 says:

    FisherPrice can’t do anything about more than Motorola can.

  23. JulesNoctambule says:

    Kids these days have all the fun!

  24. JayDeEm says:

    Did one of the truckers happen to go by the name ‘Large Marge’? Maybe these things pick up EVP :)

  25. battra92 says:

    We had some GE Walkie Talkies that interfered with the local airport. We were told not to use them any more.

    So we took them to my grandmother’s house and used them there.

  26. Nick1693 says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: True. Which is why i’m sick and tired of these moms trying to make sure their kids will never hear the word “ass” .

    This reminds me of the drinking straw story “That one looks like a rocket. Which obviously looks like a phallus!”

    Ignore me. I’m annoyed.

  27. zentex says:

    @Orv: exactly right; truckers are operating the CB’s illegally with amp’s that far exceed the licensed spectrum…but who’s gonna do anything about it? The FCC? That’ll be the day! The CB spectrum went downhill when the FCC stopped requiring licenses to operate on it.

  28. Imaginary_Friend says:

    “…Candy Cane…”

    “Mommy, some man named Rusty Nail said for you to meet him at a motel later. I told him you were cooking dinner, but he didn’t believe me, so he’s on his way over.”

  29. Rachacha says:

    When I was a kid, Walkie Talkies commonly were tuned to CB Channel 14 (27.125 MHz), so hearing a CB radio transmission is not out of the question. A number of scenerios exist that could have caused the transmission be be received 200+ miles away 1) Ground Elevation of the Walkie Talkie and/or the truckers, 2) Illegal line amplifiers used by the truckers, 3) Radio bounce off of the atmosphere (HAM radio operators can easily talk with each other on other sides of the world using this phenomenon, so 200 miles is not that significant 4)Perhaps the trucker was not on the PA turnpike, and was instead on the highway 1/2 mile away from the house and they were speaking in the past tense (I WAS on the PA turnpike when I got high at a strip club…).

    The 20′ limit is only for transmission, not receive. Walkie talkies, just like any other radio receiver can receive a signal from any distance away as long as the signal is strong enough.

    If you are concerned about what you will hear on an unlicensed radio frequency, buy a set of FRS radios, tune them to an unused channel, and turn on the privacy code. This minimizes the chance of someone barging in on your conversation. If you are paranoid, buy a set of licensed radios and obtain a license from the FCC, then you and you alone are the only ones that can talk on the frequency.

  30. The walkies talkies that I had as a kid picked up some mighty strange conversations. I didn’t tell my mom but that is how I learned certain sexual phrases as I overheard a trucker who was arranging his date with a working girl.

    Yep, I could see how this would be a problem for a pre-K kiddie.

  31. Orv says:

    @Rachacha:

    If you are paranoid, buy a set of licensed radios and obtain a license from the FCC, then you and you alone are the only ones that can talk on the frequency.

    But keep in mind that anyone can still listen to that frequency, and someone probably is.

  32. warloc66 says:

    @Rachacha: Bingo, my friend. As an old ham guy, we could talk around the world on the 10 meter band (which is a slightly higher frequency than CB, the 11 meter band,) but considering that the solar cycle is at the low end (only in the 60s) these guys were probably running big radios (read: small peenees.) When the sunspots are high, I could easily talk for thousands of miles only running 5 watts (max legal CB output is 4 watts.)

  33. pbwingman says:

    I work as a mechanic for a trucking company, and I don’t know why truckers would ever mention drugs and/or strippers. It’s all about the Lot Lizards! Hello, herpes knockin’ on the door. Make sure you don’t knock over their “storage” bottles.
    I actually dread it when I see them walking my way. There are only a few that I enjoy having a conversation with.

  34. rouftop says:

    Heh, I remember picking up trucker’s chatter on a walkie talkie when I was a kid. Hiding in my room, I would speak obscenities into the walkie talkie just to see if I got a response. Then one time, somebody told me to shut the f*** up. Freaked me out, it did!

  35. XTC46 says:

    the only reason I liked walkie talkies when I was a kid was becasue of this lol. That and listening in on the neighbors phonecalls with my cordless phone. So awesome.

  36. InThrees says:

    Where was this toy when I was a kid. =(

  37. parliboy says:

    I don’t want to play Blame the Customer here… but are we really at the point where we blame companies for products that work better than advertised?

  38. chucklebuck says:

    You know what, good for mom for not jumping on the I-done-been-damaged-so-I-gotsta-sue bandwagon.

  39. B says:

    @InThrees: Yea, no kidding. The walkie talkies I had when I was a kid barely worked five feet from each other, never mind picking up signals miles away.

  40. jwissick says:

    As a HAM, I can say there is not a lot they can do unless they move to the FRS system which has a very limited range in the UHF band. The toy in question prolly uses CB channel 14 which is in the 11 meter band. This high frequency band is used (when the solar cycle is good) to talk around the world. At this time the solar cycle is at its bottom and that band is worthless for long distance. The truckers were prolly local or running some illegal power.

    @B: Depending on when in the solar cycle you used them, then can talk line of sight or thousands of miles (at the solar cycle peak).

  41. krom says:

    Seems like CB use is way in decline these days, so FCC policing of it is probably a low priority. I’m lucky if I can pick up chatter on a single channel with my scanner and odds are it’s in Spanish.

  42. Cyclokitty says:

    I LOVED my walkie talkie when I was a kid. I often picked up chatter on my wt while I was secretly listening to it under the covers late at night. It was the late 70s and cb radios were popular and I overheard loads of ridiculous crap that would’ve enraged my mom. I never told her or my snitch brother what I was doing because I didn’t want my fav toy getting splintered under the meat tenderizer mallett.

    Three year olds have no clue what “pot” is except they make a great noise when you clange a couple together while sitting on the kitchen floor. The worst that’ll happen is he’ll repeat what he heard at an inopportune moment (like at church).

    I can understand she wants to keep the big bad world at bay.

  43. dragon:ONE says:

    At least they didn’t have to sacrifice toasters to pick up the truckers.

  44. dragon:ONE says:

    @Dakota Courtois: And by that, I mean the Phone Losers of America “Sacrificial Toasters” gag, where you could obtain a crystal for a CB radio to transmit on drive-through frequencies.

  45. timsgm1418 says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: We had a baby monitor for my grandson that picked up my neighbors cell phone calls, but I sure didn’t blame the makers of the monitor, however I believe it was Fisher Price. Sometimes his cell phone calls broadcast over my tv as well. I file that under the “shit happens” category, really nobodys fault

  46. timsgm1418 says:

    @Cyclokitty: church seems to be the favorite place for them to say things like that.
    My daughter overheard me explaining the facts of life to my son, he was about 8 or 9, and she was 5 or 6. My son wanted details, and I felt as soon as they asked the question they should get the answer. The following Sunday I left the church building to pick the kids up from Sunday School, and my daughters teacher was standing outside the door with a look that could kill… Yes, my daughter decided to tell her Sunday school class exactly how babies are made…

  47. scamps says:

    @Nick1693: I worry more about the minds of people like that. If you’re constantly seeing things as smutty, then maybe YOU have the problem.

  48. Scoobatz says:

    It’s a real shame this had to happen to a 3 year old boy. A slightly older boy would have known how awesome this was, enjoyed every minute of it, and kept everything a secret from him mom, hoping that it would happen again.. and not ruining it for the rest of the kids out there.

  49. kyle4 says:

    One time my 2.4ghz phone picked up a baby monitor, and someone else’s conversation briefly. Not only did it freak me out, it made me hate those phones.

  50. Oshawapilot says:

    Whaaaa, my kids toy that operates on a public free-to-use radio frequency picked up the conversation of someone doing the same. It happens, and I’d agree with a previous respondent that there’s a very good chance that the drivers in question were a lot closer then 200 miles away. Some linear amplifiers are of strong (and dirty) enough to bleed over into almost anything with a speaker, so it’s entirely possible it was a combination of things that caused this.

    In the end there’s nothing that can be done since it’s all effectively legal. The complainant needs to accept that. If your worried about it happening again, return the toy.

    In other news, my mind just about exploded when I read the word “prolly” in an earlier response. Please, I’m not usually a grammar and spelling nag, but…really? Prolly?

    /grumpy tonight…

  51. Chrome says:

    FYI, there are two large truck stops just out side of Charelston. The “TA” in Teays Valley and Pilot in Nitro. Growing up in Teays Valley, I often heard CB chatter coming across a walkie-talkie “base station” I had as a kid. Most of it was garbled, but every now and then I could catch part of a conversation.

    My guess it was either transmission from someone working skip or the the woman misunderstood the use of turnpike in the conversation and they were on I-64 or at one of the truck stops.

    Later,
    Chrome…

  52. Chrome says:

    **Charleston** I can’t believe I misspelled that.

    Later,
    Chrome…

  53. Nick1693 says:

    @kylo4: lol, I live in a 2 apartment building, with another single family home sharing and entire wall. They had the same phone as both Me and my downstairs neighbor. We heard their calls on a routine basis. I just wonder if they heard ours…

  54. BuddhaLite says:

    This story sounds just like the mom’s who claim that their child’s Elmo doll told them to kill themselves. What you really have is a person crying out for attention when in reality the kid heard her mom’s boyfriend talking to his friends about smoking some week and going to the titty bar.

  55. When I was young I had a few different sets of walkie talkies (headset ones, hand-held ones and a pair that looked like the Zach Morris/Saved By the Bell cell phones) and I remember them all picking up CB radio conversations and construction site chatter now an then. My old PC speakers at a former job picked that up well enough to make out one side of a conversation from the same guy now and then. However, I find it hard to believe that this lady heard anything from 200+ miles away that clearly.

  56. EdnaLegume says:

    @JayDeEm: Yeah, it’ll get my interest when that happens! lol

  57. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @timsgm1418: Why do people have to hide it from their kids? I never got the bullshit “stork” story or what have you. My parents told me straight out. And by age 7 or so you’re going to be learning all sorts of things from your fellow classmates. Sheesh, when I was 11 I heard girls in my grade dropping f bombs, always made me laugh when my mom censored my dad around my sister. What can you possibly say that she hasn’t already heard?

  58. chartrule says:

    powerfull enough transmitter will carry over into other nearby frequencies – the transmissions can also be carried down power lines

  59. Smorgasbord says:

    I am a retired truck driver. A few years back the FCC turned over enforcement of the CB rules to local police. It used to be you had to get a license to use a CB. You were supposed to use your call sign (mine was Itchy at that time) when you started talking. It is still illegal to use cuss words or to advertise products on the CB. The FCC had such a backlog of people applying for a license they finally decided we didn’t need one. Just buy the radio and start using it.

    With the millions of CBs in use, it became impossible for the FCC to go after those who cussed on it etc., so they decided to let local agencies do that. The worst offenders are the base stations that use thousand of amps and purposely use cuss word, racist remarks, or what ever they can come up with just to make people mad.

    I usually had my squelch turned to where someone had to be pretty close to me for me to hear them so I wouldn’t have to listen to most of the garbage out there.

  60. Kenosha_Suburb says:

    @twophrasebark:

    Are you sure you weren’t on Xbox Live?

  61. jwissick says:

    @xskeptictankx: Just look up your local HAM radio club at http://www.arrl.org and they can show you that 200 miles is the norm….

  62. Kirk Douglas says:

    Breaker breaker, gonna need a bear report good buddy.

  63. timsgm1418 says:

    I have to say that most of the fun of having walkie talkies when I was a kid (way back in the 70′s) was overhearing conversations. My parents cussed all the time, and we knew not to repeat those words. I wonder how the mom censors people when she takes her child out in public? I don’t cuss around my grandkids, but if they heard something they shouldn’t I would just tell them those aren’t nice words to say.
    I learned at a very young age not to repeat certain words because my grandma would shove Cashmere Bouquet soap in my mouth, that stuff is nasty, so it only took 2 or 3 times for me to learn to keep my mouth shut.

  64. Justifan says:

    its basically impossible to police trucker radios. hell your kid might go around swearing on that walkie and rape another childs ears;)

    until they make encrypted digital walkies for children you’ll just have to deal with it. its open

  65. tcp100 says:

    Umm, welcome to the wonderful world of radio.

    Radio waves kinda do what they want to do, or what mother nature feels they should do at a given moment, and there’s not a whole lot Fisher Price can do about it.

    Believe it or not, a stern letter to a toy company cannot bend the laws of physics, even if you are an angry soccer mom and it’s “for the children”.

    As for what happened, most of these things operate at either the 27mhz or 49mhz unlicensed bands.

    49mhz is right near the 6m HAM spectrum, and 27mhz is right near 10m/CB. Both of these, if conditions are right, can travel hundreds of miles with very little power – and there’s not a damn thing you can do about that.

    Unlicensed, unregulated uses are often secondary to other regulated, licensed uses.

    2.4ghz is a typical one. Did you know that if a licensed ham decides to set up a 2.4ghz transmitter next door to you and completely wreaks havoc on your wi-fi, that’s your problem, sorry, them’s the brakes? Sucks, but it’s true.

    The mom, if she read what was in the package, would have noticed that these radios were fcc Part 15 Devices, and no doubt included the following statement:

    This device complies with part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) This device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.

    No doubt you’ve seen it before.

    Harmonics can cause transmissions to appear off-frequency, as can poorly filtered rigs which are favored by many truckers. (Illegal, but hardly enforced.)

    The kind of attitude of this mother amazes me, honestly. Certain things in life, especially as a parent, you just have to deal with – and no amount of complaining can change it.

    Propagation characteristics of electromagnetic radiation, as far as I can tell, is one of those things that really doesn’t give a damn about the children. Sorry ’bout that.

  66. kc2idf says:

    If these walkie talkies operated in the 27MHz band, then this is bound to happen. Even if they are operating on frequencies not assigned to CB, there are a number of illegal CBs out there that operate on those frequencies anyway. There really isn’t much that one can do about this, except not use radios, or use encrypted radios. Encrypted radios, unfortunately, start in the $100 range.

  67. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    “Mom, what’s a lot lizard?”

  68. polyeaster says:

    the product site linked in story says item discontinued.

  69. Zatnikitelman says:

    @The Hams questioning the solar cycle.
    What about Sporadic-E? For those who don’t know, Sporadic-E is where part of the ionosphere gets supercharged from seconds to hours at a time that can support propagations of the VHF “local” frequencies on much much longer ranges than normally can happen.

  70. HogwartsAlum says:

    @timsgm1418:

    LOL!!!
    My mom used Ivory.

  71. timsgm1418 says:

    @HogwartsAlum: I was lucky with my kids, they had liquid soap then, hahahahahahahaha
    they didn’t like that one bit

  72. riverstyxxx says:

    Hah, I’ve had cheap toy walkie-talkies that pick up the cordless phone signal in the house.

  73. riverstyxxx says:

    Correction: Now I remember, since this happened more than 10 years ago..It was one of those portable FM/Cassette radios.

  74. RandomZero says:

    Hey, she’s just lucky it’s only walkie-talkies doing this. I have a cheap pair of computer speakers kicking around that picks up chatter from trucks that pass my house several times a week. (confused the hell out of me when it started happening, since the damn computer wasn’t even on.)

  75. RvLeshrac says:

    @VOIDMunashii:

    The FCC does not, and cannot, penalize stations without complaints. So blame the people writing complaints, not the FCC.

    They do, on the other hand, have full license to haul you into court for overpowered transmissions or for transmitting on restricted frequencies. The problem is that there are so many people writing complaints about TV and radio shows that they can’t possibly hire enough people to keep up with all of their tasks.

    The ideal thing is just to abolish all content control and allow the FCC to deal with the REAL issues, like HAM and commercial broadcasters who break into restricted bands/transmit outside of their licensed range, or individuals who purposely jam emergency and other bands.

    I don’t care if some show on FOX showed some tits for two seconds some time last week, but I *DO* care if the guy down the street has a halfassed tower which plays havoc with police transmissions. Unfortunately, most of the country seems to care more about being able to plop Little Johnny down in front of the “babysitter” and never having to interact with him.

    (And for those who get “upset” when their children curse: Ever think they’d use the words less if you stopped using them? If you stopped giving them all sorts of attention when they DID use them, they might even stop using them completely.)

  76. TACP says:

    When I was a kid, I played with real CBs. I grew up next to the interstate and a couple of truck stops. Yes, it was the South. :) I never heard anything like this, just off-color jokes. However, I found a police scanner and started listening to 49MHz analog cordless phones. Now that was an eye-opener!

  77. This woman is hardly a True American (TM); she didn’t sue Fisher Price.