Overdrive 50th Anniversary

Lucinda Coulter | April 03, 2011

Radio Nights

Disc jockeys have entertained, informed and consoled truckers on lonely long-haul runs.


In the late 1960s and early ’70s, disc jockeys started a culture over nighttime airwaves that has enriched generations of truckers. Since then, truckers have enjoyed announcers’ robust, velvet voices, their passionate news reporting and, typically, country music formats.

Announcers such as Fred Sanders, with WMAQ in Chicago, and Don Hinson and Larry Scott, with KLAC in Los Angeles, became truckers’ advocates. Many of these radio personalities began to appear at industry events to meet their listeners and do remote broadcasts, a practice that continues today.

Overdrive has sponsored a radio hour with country music continuously since 1989. One of the first, in 1973, featured KLAC’s Scott. Since 2002, radio and music legend Bill Mack has hosted Overdrive Top Ten Countdown weekly.

While trucking DJs continue to use traditional air waves, some have turned to satellite radio to reach listeners on channels devoted to trucking. Mack, known for years as the Midnight Cowboy, now goes by Satellite Cowboy for his broadcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Bill Mack started his all-night radio show in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1969 with news, weather and country music. Growing up among truckers in Shamrock, Texas, near Route 66, made it natural for him to be tuned in to truckers’ needs. His songwriting talent, evidenced best by his 1996 Grammy Award winner “Blue,” has helped maintained his popularity. He broadcasts his trucking show from his home in Fort Worth on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

With radio’s online expansion, some Internet-based talk shows hosted by D.J.-drivers have developed. For example, Allen Smith hosts “Truth About Trucking Live” on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Longtime DJ Larry Scott, an all-night country music show host on Los Angeles’ KLAC in the ’70s, rode with D&D Distributing driver Jack Killyer on a round-trip haul, as reported in the March 1973 Overdrive. Afterward, Scott realized he needed to give “more comprehensive nationwide weather forecasts” on his broadcasts.

Fred Sanders hosted the Fred Sanders Trucker Show on WMAQ- AM in Chicago from 1975 to 1988. The May 1979 Overdrive shows him (top) at a meeting of the Independent Truckers Association, which held fund-raisers for truckers. Sanders recalls covering steel haulers’ shut-downs in the mid-’70s. “We wanted to be a business source for truckers. We were big on news,” says Sanders, now (bottom) creative director for Entercom in South Carolina.







1961: Cummins NH 220

By John Baxter

The 1961 Cummins NH 230 855-cubic-inch diesel engine achieved major advances in basic design by introducing stronger internal components and improvements in engine cooling and the oil cooler. The transition from a 5.25-in. bore to a 5.5-in. with the NH 230 improved breathing, increasing horsepower, and dropping fuel consumption significantly, partly by putting the sweet spot in the center of the operating range.

This turbocharged NTC 250 evolved from the NH.

Clessie Cummins described the predecessor engine, the H, as “Hell for strong,” noting it “comprised a lot of reserve built into the engine.” He wanted a strong engine design that would survive as power was increased, and he designed the block with reserve strength because he believed diesels should be completely rebuildable, as they are today.

This engine is closer to the typical engine of today, prior to common-rail injection, than any other engine of its time.

50 Years of Equipment Innovations

Visit OverdriveRetro.com to view some of the top 50 equipment milestones during Overdrive’s 50-year history. New items will be added through September.

Let us know your favorite trucking memories. Write Lucinda Coulter at lcoulter@rrpub.com or Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403.


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