A management shakeup at the “Air Castle of the South” has left shows scuttled in its wake, including a favorite of truckers across the nation.
In an apparent one fell swoop, gone are GM Chris Kulick, as well as the morning show Nashville Today, and, much to the chagrin of truck drivers nationwide, the WSM All Nighter With Marcia Campbell.
“The fact that a country radio show would let her go is more proof of how the radio industry continues to self destruct,” noted Tony Justice, himself a singer-songwriter who drives for Everhart Transportation out of Greeneville, Tennessee.
“She’s such a sweetheart,” said Randy Cunha, owner-operator of Tonto Express out of Conroe, Texas. “You’d see her at the truck shows. She’d be sitting around the fire, just like one of us.”
Campbell launched her career while a stay-at-home mom by converting her massive music library into a weekly two-hour bluegrass show on the AM station 1260 WDKN out Dickson, Tennessee. “That was my hometown radio station , where the foundation was laid,” she told me in an August interview for the upcoming podcast “Over The Road.”
An engagement with mentor Keith Bilbrey’s Interstate Radio Network followed, and ultimately she became the fully independent all-night producer/deejay at WSM. Campbell’s sincere solidarity with the over-the-road community would ultimately lead many to christen her “America’s Trucking Sweetheart.”
But this is not an obituary, notwithstanding the fact that, for many, including your’s truly, it feels like a death. To this gearjammer, what distinguishes Marcia Campbell from anyone out there in radio today is that it feels like she’s the last of the truly independent deejays. She will spin anything you ask her to spin, as long as it’s relatively clean. You might hear her play John Fogerty, then John Prine, then Tony Justice, all by request. Sometimes, truth be told, I would request obscure deep cuts, just to see if she’d spin them.
For example, “1917” by Emmylou Harris, “Pinball Machine” by original trucking troubadour Lonnie Irving. She’d message me back in about an hour, “I’m on a mission to find your song.”
More time gone by, I’d be miles down the road and hear it crackle to life through the truck’s sound system.
Mr. Justice added these words of encouragement to America’s Trucking Sweetheart, making reference to his wife, Misty: “Misty and I are confident that Marcia will land on her feet, and we know her faith in God will lead her down a new path.”
Thanks to you, Marcia, for the many miles you’ve ridden with us. Looking forward to your next chapter.