Channel 19

Todd Dills

Truck Stop Missouri redux; American Trucker GATS episode tonight

| October 06, 2011

Truck Stop Missouri a ‘trucking ambassador’ in reality?
After my interview posted yesterday with Joe Bechtold, General Manager of the Midway Truck Stop and Travel Plaza that is the subject of the Truck Stop Missouri TV show on the Travel Channel, a longtime commenter on the Channel 19 blog took issue with Bechtold’s characterization of the show as a positive for the image of the trucking industry generally — and the American driver in particular.

Bandit, proprietor at the Dispatch Me Home social site and blog, accessible via the link, is a man whose point of view I trust, in short, and in his words the Truck Stop Missouri show in fact does little for the image of the American Trucker. If anything, the result may be a negative. Here’s what he wrote: “I’ve watched quite a few episodes of the show and was very disappointed with what was being done and how the trucking industry was being portrayed.” Generally, Bandit laments the “lack of the true trucking industry and truck stops being portrayed [in this show]. I found this more of a circus atmosphere. I mean, just a few examples….people taking a pig into one of their motel rooms and bathing it in the tub, people sitting on bleachers all day waiting for a cow to take a dump on a particular number, an elderly lady getting a tattoo — come on, Leftfield Pictures and Mr. Bechtold, if you want to do a reality show on the trucking industry and the real lifestyle of the American Trucker, be realistic about it. I have talked with many of my fellow drivers about this show and so far have not found one that feels what they are showing the public has anything to do with the reality of our industry. I personally feel that a much better job could have been done with this show.”

Prior to Bandit’s note and Bechtold’s sincere contention that the show was an industry positive, I’d talked with a few drivers about the show, all of whom expressed relative indifference to it or hadn’t seen it at all.

My question today: What do you think of it?

American Trucker‘s GATS episode premieres tonight
Another television show, one that deals more directly with drivers’ and owner-operators’ places in the industry, premiers an episode tonight that features a trucking show that is close to my heart here. At the Great American Trucking Show (produced by Overdrive owners Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information) this year, American Trucker show host Robb Mariani and crew were on hand filming the episode (pictured). Mariani participated in the judging of the Custom Rigs Pride & Polish truck beauty competition and national championship, which you can expect to figure prominently.

If you can’t catch it tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern, it rebroadcasts Friday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m., both Eastern. For future rebroadcasts, keep an eye on this page.

  • Bandit

    Well, I tried one more time to give the benefit of doubt to ‘Truck Stop Missouri’ and Mr. Bechtold by watching another 2 episodes of the show tonight. It turned out to be a huge mistake on my part. All it did was solidify my first thoughts and impressions of this grossly poor supposed look at the trucker and trucking industry of this country. The first of the two 30min. shows mostly dwelled on how hot it was, and keeping ice in portable coolers along with trying to curb a dog that felt the need to urinate on the corner of the Travel Stop building. Mr. Bechtold sent his manager of the establishment out on a scavenger hunt for a ‘fire hydrant’ that was to be placed in a grassy area to give said dog an alternative area to urinate. The second of the 30min. shows was all about one of their motel rooms that is presumably haunted, and a Civil War re-enactment out in front of the travel stop. In the one hour total showtime, I saw a segment they called ‘trucker story’ where a supposed truck driver spoke for approx. 10 or 15 seconds about a leaky oxygen bottle that came flying out of a trailer like a rocket. If this is a show that is doing “a great job shinning a better light on the trucking industry and truck drivers”, I need to go back out on the road and take another look. I obviously missed something in my 37yrs. on the road. I believe that the very least that needs to be done here is to change the name of the show to exactly what it is depicting…”Travel Plaza Missouri”.
    Next on the agenda, ‘The American Trucker’. I also watched a double episode of this show tonight. My finding of this show and my honest opinion is that the basic idea of the show and the content of the show is indeed true reality of the trucking industry. I enjoyed the episode that was filmed at the GATS and the great shots of many of the fantastic show trucks that were there on display. I also enjoyed the second of the episodes which depicted the UPS operations in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Louisville was very educational and informative showing the history and the major operations of the UPS system. The only problem I have with this show, is the guy they have hosting it. Rob Mariani is like an 8yr old on a sugar overdose. They either need to hide his sugar supply, or replace him with a not so over zealous adult acting person who would add a bit more of a sophisticated aura to the show. Maybe someone like Alan Alda or Anderson Cooper. I give the show in general, a passing grade in my opinion. I give Rob Mariani a failing grade for acting too childish and much too hyper. I know there have to be other drivers out there who have watched both of these shows. For anyone who hasn’t seen these shows and would like to, you can see any or all episodes at Please don’t be afraid to join in and voice your opinion on what you are seeing. It is after all your industry and your image supposedly being portrayed.
    Thanks Todd, for the opportunity to express my opinion.

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