In 1975, two years after truckers in the United States shutdown across the country, OOIDA's budding membership had dipped from 3,000 truckers to 30. Tensions resulting from the fuel crisis had eased, and truckers were going back to work. Satisfied that their urgent problems were behind them, the early members had effectively forgotten about the need for a strong owner-operator trucking organization.
But OOIDA, while struggling to stay afloat, devised a game plan.
Jim Johnston took over as president of the association during that lean year, admitting that "there wasn't a whole lot of competition for the job." Realizing that perhaps the association's message wasn't being made known to all truckers, the association decided that they'd need something to help spread the word - a publication to document the efforts of OOIDA.
The result was Land Line Magazine. Packed full of news and editorial copy that was of particular interest to independent truckers, the first few issues helped to shape the future of the association and the means by which important data was passed on to its members.
The first issue of Land Line was a scant eight pages. Put together by a staff of four people, only 5,000 copies were printed. They were mailed by hand. Roughly 10,000 copies were printed for the second issue. At 16 pages, it was twice as long as its predecessor. The third saw 25,000 copies of the 20-page magazine printed.
Volume 1 issue 3 is the oldest copy of the magazine within Land Line's archives. Included is Johnston's column (still present today under the heading "issues and positions"). In it, he emphasizes the importance of the magazine to drivers everywhere.
"The purpose of this publication is to keep you, the owner-operator and independent trucker abreast of changes in the rules," he states. "And to keep you up to date on your association's efforts to improve your future by seeing that your best interests are represented and considered in any and all changes that are made."
Some of the articles within its black and white pages include: "Radar - is it infallible?," "Will the price of gas go down?" and "DOT favors uniform adoption of 80,000 lb. weight limit."
The "new products" section of the magazine contained a portable CB case, and high petroleum grease that was "able to extend relubrication intervals (of wheel end products) from every 3,000 to 4,000 miles to every 8,000 to 12,000 miles."
After settling into a quarterly publication the following year, Land Line printed its first color cover. The illustration depicted Uncle Sam pulling the shipping, railroad, airline, and mass transit industries behind him. "The independent trucker has never asked Uncle Sam for a free ride," the caption says. "Help us keep it that way."
From day one, the magazine was free to all truckers. Johnston felt so strongly about this, that on the inside cover of the first four issues was printed the following message to its readers:
"Why is Land Line free? Because that is in line with the idea of why the association was formed: As a non-commercialized association using its resources solely for the improvement of the lives of its members, owner-operators and independent drivers everywhere. And the price of the truth, gentlemen, should be free."
Watch for further articles chronicling the history of Land Line in upcoming issues.