Exit Only: Let's Talk

ToddTruckers News Senior Editor Todd Dills is the author of a novel, Sons of the Rapture, and blogs daily at www.overdrive.com/channel19. Write him at [email protected] or http://twitter.com/channel19todd.

Broward County, Fla., resident and hotshot boat hauler Daniel Audet last year launched what stands at the vanguard of driver communication in the burgeoning social media landscape. His Truckstar Radio station, operational now for nearly a year via www.thetruckstar.com/listen, commands thousands of nightly listeners, many of whom call in and “hang out,” as Audet says. The show is all about them, after all.

“Film stars are stars of movies, and truckers, to me, are the stars of trucking,” Audet says. “There wouldn’t be a trucking industry without the drivers. You can have administration, you can have lots of trucks, but this country would come to a screeching halt without the drivers.”

Audet broadcasts two to four hours nightly, “depending on where I am,” he says. “I’m doing some actual feature-type shows, but I’m still trying to stay away from what people might think of as a ‘format.’” For instance, he’s talked recently with Mike Rone of RMR Consultants about CSA 2010, 16-year-old runner Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan about her cross-country jog to bring awareness to driver health and many others (full disclosure: I was a guest in October).

But at its core, Truckstar Radio is a big change from standard call-in radio fare.

“I was a DJ at a rock station in Los Angeles in the early ’90s,” Audet says, long before he got into trucking. Via that experience he became quite familiar — and frustrated — with the “segmented, editorial-type formatting in commercial radio. What I did with Truckstar was take the traditional AM/FM format as people know it and throw the rulebook out the window completely.”

The program typically starts around 8 p.m. EST with a blast to his Twitter followers (https://twitter.com/truckstarradio) and a free-form introduction. Known for his slow-wind-up “rants and raves” since he began blogging a few years back via Truck.net, his shows often take unexpected turns. For Audet, each show’s success stands on the shoulders of the professional drivers it’s about, in the end. Most trucking radio journalists, he says, “do a good job disassociating themselves from their audience. I’m not doing that. My love for the American driver is genuine.”

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He’s capable of a little tough love, too. During his talk with Jasmine Jordan, he says, “I stopped her and asked, ‘Why would you do this?’ — and I know that’s one of those broad-stroke, borderline obnoxious questions. But a lot of people wouldn’t understand why a 16-year-old who’s probably blowing off her spot on the Olympic team, why would she do this for truckers?

“She said, ‘I want as much publicity to this cause as possible, because there’s a lot of drivers out there in need.’”

He sees that advocacy for the well-being of others in the industry playing out not only in the health arena but in several other areas, including driver training and the congestion/lack of public parking facilities. And in each of those cases, he’s quick to point out, women lead the charge. “Let me ask all you veteran trucking cowboy superheroes out there: Where have you been in these situations? Superman, where are you? That night with Jasmine, I said, ‘Some of you veteran drivers out there can step up to the plate here and talk about some of these issues in trucking, and with your experience, it’s sort of a waste that you’re not.’”

If Audet has anything to do with it, Truckstar Radio stands to change that dynamic. I, for one, will be listening.

ExitFor our video interview with Daniel Audet (pictured), visit www.youtube.com/truckersnews.





Are you a ‘small-time pirate’? According to a November 2008 story in the left-leaning politics and culture mag In These Times (www.inthesetimes.com), the potential for hours-of-service changes by the Obama administration’s FMCSA doesn’t matter to small-business truck owner-operators because they “compete like pirates, cutting their rates while hoping to snare some business. The lower their rates go, the longer they drive and more likely they are to turn their driving logs into dream books.” Among the other fouls the piece heaped on readers is the simply erroneous notion, in its third paragraph, that the 11th hour of driving and 34-hour restart provisions of the current rule were 11th-hour changes themselves, placed “on the books in [the Bush] administration’s waning days.” The current HOS have in fact been operational, though consistently challenged, in the trucking industry since 2004. We’re all for calling out politicians when they’ve screwed up, but it’s important to get the facts right in the process.