By Mark H. Reddig
Host, Land Line Now
Anyone listening to The Truckin’ Bozo radio show knows they can expect to hear someone – usually the esteemed host of that program – talking about truckers and trucker issues.
But this past Wednesday, they might have heard a familiar voice talking about those issues – familiar, but not the one they usually hear on that program.
It was Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s Executive Vice President. Todd and I spent Wednesday on a one-day trip to Cincinnati, where Dale Sommers and his wife, Sharon, spend about half the year.
The reason for the trip … well, I’ll let Todd explain.
“Mark and I are here today to recognize you for your achievements in radio,” Spencer said to Sommers during The Truckin’ Bozo program Wednesday, Aug. 4. “Our Board of Directors has passed a resolution. And I’ll just read it:
“For his 50-year-plus career in radio, his provocative style has stimulated, amused, connected and motivated thousands of long-haul truckers. Even more, his deep loyalty to the industry and appreciation for professional truck drivers have made him a valued friend. Dale Sommers, The Truckin’ Bozo, is hereby recognized by OOIDA for significant achievement in the field of broadcasting during his lifetime.”
That was the moment when most people became aware of the Lifetime Achievement Award voted to Sommers by the OOIDA Board of Directors, and presented by Spencer that day.
However, that was only the presentation heard on the air. In fact, Todd and I arrived nearly four hours earlier at Dale and Sharon’s house.
Todd wanted to keep the award a complete surprise. So he had told Dale he would be in town “on business” and, since he was in Cincinnati anyway, he thought he would stop by for a quick visit.
I was carrying the certificate to be presented to Dale in a nondescript FedEx Box – although Todd jokingly said he wanted to stop and get a pizza box to put the award in, so we looked a little less like we were delivering something of importance.
The Sommers weren’t expecting us until much later in the day. And when we arrived, Sharon was returning from a brief walk with their dog – surprised to see us so early.
Once we were in their house, Dale and Todd spent some time reminiscing about their roughly three decades of friendship as his wife, Sharon, and I listened in from across the room.
The session included plenty of serious topics. Dale and Todd chatted about the association’s victory over the Tennessee Public Service Commission years ago, late nights taking on important issues on the air, and Dale’s days in radio before he created a show for truck drivers.
But it also included a little kidding among old friends.
“Don’t expect him to be careful what he says; he never has,” Todd joked.
“Me?” Dale replied in a mock hurt tone. “Hey, I remember when you used to call me at 3 in the morning.”
“I know it,” Todd said. “Well, I used to think I didn’t have to sleep.”
After a couple of hours of conversation, Todd said, well, there’s a reason we showed up today.
He pulled out a large, framed certificate. At the top, in large, all-capital letters, it said “Lifetime Achievement.”
“You know, we’ve had a relationship for a long, long, long, long time,” Spencer said. “Certainly, you’ve had a relat