I stumbled into writing these little rants for Overdrive late in life. Up to then, all my bombast and bloviation was broadcast on one channel exclusively, that being the old One-Nine on the citizen's band radio. I was a failed English major, a wash out from the Ball State University Honors College, a diesel dilettante of the rankest order. That said, Minnesota writer and radio host Garrison Keillor once proffered that when you're an English major, every bad thing that happens to you simply becomes material.
As a trucker, I had collected a lot of material – more than 3 million miles' worth .
I was still rocking a flip phone in 2016 when the folks I work for put an Android tablet in my hand and tethered me to the digital grid. Yes, dear reader, I'm talking about the mark of the beast – the electronic log.
Those first few months found me casting about, looking for some outlet during my mandatory 10-hour break. Maybe I should take up woodworking, I pondered. What I discovered during those early months was that, borrowing the aforementioned tablet, I could type up these caffeine-drenched diatribes, email them off to a couple dudes I'd met at a truck show, and they'd put them out to the whole world in their magazine. It was like being heard for the first time.
Seeing one's work published and commented upon after 3 million miles of invisibility was its own drug. One of the two dudes who reviewed these early ramblings was a fellow named Todd Dills. The other was his boss, Max Heine. Now Max is 68, and off to his retirement years...So I’ve bellied up to this keypad to leave a few small words in this great man’s honor.
[Related: Passing the reins at Overdrive]
I came to this publication with a rather jaded view of journalism in its early-21st-century state. What I learned from Max and Todd is that good people can still make a difference in this world.
On my wall will soon hang a certificate denoting a 2021 finalist ranking for Best Podcast after nomination for a Jesse H. Neal award for the podcast Over the Road. The Neal Award is widely regarded as the "Pulitzer of trade journalism." Max Heine and Overdrive boast a slew of those. It was within the culture that Max has quietly and skillfully preserved, aided by Todd’s hard work and guidance, that our podcast team did work that got noticed by the top people in the business.
None of that would have happened without Max’s support and guidance. From this old gearjammer, thank you, Max. Godspeed to you, and please don’t be a stranger.