View from Exit 24
Going where there is no path

Jim Johnston
OOIDA President

Going where there is no path

There’s a plaque that hangs on the wall here inside OOIDA headquarters and it was presented to me when the membership hit 100,000 on Aug. 19, 2003. It quotes a guy named Ralph Waldo Emerson and says: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

This summer, OOIDA set off down another new path, pursuing an important part of the association’s mission to keep truckers accurately informed. This is so you can make smart business decisions and also outsmart the boneheads who strive to take advantage of isolation-challenged truckers.

To make it in trucking these days, you need every tool you can get to do one simple, but vital, task: Make better sense of the information that’s out there. With that in mind, we launched a daily hour-long radio show for truckers on XM Satellite’s Channel 171.

If you are not yet an XM subscriber and current listener, I will tell you a bit about the show and why we jumped into this new media outlet and let loose on the world of trucking the first show of its kind anywhere.

We call it “Land Line Now” and it is information-oriented talk radio, with short news, longer news, stories, interviews and editorial commentary. Its purpose is to cover the world of truckers like the mainstream media cannot – or will not.

An advocacy press plays a useful role in our media-driven society. When the people in a certain segment are misrepresented and stereotyped, it spreads misinformation. When the mainstream media ignores or totally misunderstands your cause or your community, you must have your own voice, produced by people who will get it straight.

If two people are shot in an attempted bank robbery, reporters will be live on the scene. If the record costs of diesel runs thousands of truckers toward financial ruin, you’ll not hear it or read it in the mainstream news.

OOIDA learned the worth of “advocacy journalism” more than 30 years ago. During the Arab oil embargo, independent truckers parked their trucks. They were fed up with trying to haul freight with 20 gallons of fuel at a time.

I went to Washington with a handful of other truckers. We were going to kick some butt. We met with Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas and some regulatory folks.

Before we knew it, Dole was ready for us to go outside in the hall and tell the media that all was resolved and truckers should go back to work.

We said no way and went back to our hotel. We turned on the TV and there was the news saying “the strike is off and truckers are going back to work.” The film clip showed trucks rolling down the Ohio Turnpike, green grass in the background. Only thing, it was dead of winter and the ground was covered with snow. That’s when we knew truckers desperately needed their own news.

The first issue of Land Line was printed in 1975 and it’s been a long struggle, but we’ve given truckers the truth and we’ve kept you accurately informed. Thirty years later, we are still shining the light in dark corners. Because we need our own media more than ever, we are taking to the airwaves.

Here’s why we decided to call it “Land Line Now.” Our magazine is published nine times a year and is read by more than 250,000 truckers. Our print editions of Land Line secure our connection to our members and readership and provide you with something you can hold in your hand and read or re-read when you want. Each issue is a tangible, a keeper and a useful piece of reference material.

But, the timeliness of each bit of info and each important serving of news is hampered by the fact that it takes time to research, write, layout, print and mail each issue. The world and the trucking industry are moving so fast, we know that you require some of this information immediately, at the speed of, say, radio waves.

Radio is not only instantaneous, it’s everywhere. XM and Sirius satellite radio have both become popular with truckers because they air coast to coast.

Since our radio debut June 6, “Land Line Now” host Mark Reddig and guests have talked about driver training inadequacies, the Highway Bill and the new out-of-service criteria from CVSA that may very well be the first step toward cabotage enforcement. We’ve brought you panel discussions and interviews with members, experts and law-enforcement officials. We’ve brought you guests like U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota and U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel of Indiana.

We’ve exposed serious problems such as expanded fuel in your tank due to it being pumped hot. We’ve brought you the truth about the proposed fuel surcharge legislation, why we need it and why all the hoopla from the opposition is just that.

You won’t get any of this from the mainstream media.

The radio show does more than bring you up-to-date trucking news, it sorts through the crap and tells you what issues are on the table and what they mean. To go a step further, “Land Line Now” makes it easier for you to be involved with shaping the outcome of these issues.

OOIDA has an office in Washington, DC, and three full-time lobbyists work to make legislators aware of the problems of professional truckers. You’ll hear Rod Nofziger, Mike Joyce and Melissa Theriault report what is really happening on Capitol Hill. And more than that, you’ll hear how to contact your lawmakers and voice your opinion on matters that affect you and your business. On the state level, we provide daily updates on what is happening.

Many wise people have said “knowledge is power.” It might be, but knowledge does not just come to you served on a platter. You’ve got to seek it out.

Tune in to “Land Line Now.” Listen and use what you hear.

Editor’s note: “Land Line Now” airs on XM Channel 171 twice a day, from 6 to 7 p.m. CDT and again at 5 to 6 a.m. the following morning.