The Last Ride of the Road Gang

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At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, radio legend Dave Nemo announced his retirement from full-time hosting duties of The Dave Nemo Show on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Channel 146. After over 50 years of entertaining truck drivers, Dave is slowing down a little so he can travel some more as he celebrates “The Last Ride of the Road Gang,” a year-long tribute to the founders of trucker radio.

Truckers radio started in the early seventies when Charlie Doubles created the original all-night radio show for truckers. In 1970, he joined Radio WWL, New Orleans, LA, and created the Road Gang, the first all-night country music show explicitly directed at the truck driver. After thirteen years, he joined WSM, Nashville, TN, as host of the Music Country Network and later was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.

Douglas and his “Road Gang,” including Dave Nemo, brought a mix of country music, weather reports, and Douglas’ down-home wit to the station’s overnight hours. And because of WWL’s huge clear-channel signal, the show cultivated a following of truck drivers making long drives across the country in the middle of the night. Douglas’ program would span 7.5 hours and air six nights a week. Focusing on the informational needs of his truck driver listeners, Dave Nemo has kept the Road Gang standards and traditions alive for almost 50 years.

Before trucker movies, there were trucker songs

Before Hollywood glorified the modern-day cowboy on the silver screen in the ’60s and ’70s, trucker music kept drivers company on long overnight trips. DAT Freight & Analytics spoke to Dave Nemo about trucker music and where it all began. According to Nemo, “The first trucking song goes back to 1939 when Ted Daffin wrote “Truck Drivers Blues,” which was released in October of that year and performed by Cliff Bruner and His Boys.

“At the time, Daffin, American country singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was also a jukebox repairman, and he would go to these roadhouses because there were no truck stops like we have today. He noticed all these truck drivers in there, and the first thing they did, even before ordering a cup of coffee, was push a coin in the jukebox. Daffin thought that if I wrote a song about truck drivers, I could capture some of the truck drivers’ nickels and make himself rich and famous. In 1939, the song sold more than 100,000 copies.”

Dave Nemo, the musician.

Many RoadDog Radio listeners don’t know that Dave was a musician before becoming a radio host. Dave started taking guitar lessons in third grade and joined the orchestra at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he became the music director of the campus radio station. He was hired at Radio WWL when he was a senior in college, where he played music and read the weather and the news on Saturdays and Sundays.

All of that changed in 1970, though, with the Vietnam draft lottery, which gave young men a random number corresponding to their birthdays. Men with lower numbers were called first and told to report to induction centers where they could be ordered into active duty and possibly sent to the Vietnam War. Dave was selected and joined the Army after already being in the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and ended at the Kunsan Army Air Force Base in Seoul, Korea, where he hosted six to midnight radio shows called “Nemo’s Nightbeat.”

Following his return to New Orleans, Dave ended up at WWL, where his career in trucking radio started in the summer of 1972 when he joined Charlie Douglas and The Road Gang.

Tune in to The Dave Nemo Show

The Dave Nemo Show, which includes the talented Jimmy Mac, Lindsay Lawler, and Tim Ridley, as well as the many contributors who make the program the most comprehensive in trucking, can be heard on weekdays on SiriusXM Road Dog Trucking (channel 146) from 7 to 11 AM ET.

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