OOIDA’s award-winning news show is produced in the second-floor studios of the Association’s headquarters just east of Kansas City, MO. “Land Line Now” is the first hour-long daily news show produced exclusively for professional drivers. Pre-recorded each day, the show hits the airwaves via XM Satellite Radio and is a popular feature on The Open Road Channel 171.
The buzz of neon welcomes the “Land Line Now” broadcast team every morning.
The early hours of the workday find news anchor Reed Black trolling newspapers, federal and state Web sites, networks and the Internet for the breaking news impacting the trucking industry.
Around 8 a.m., by the time he’s on his second Diet Coke of the day – the seemingly unofficial official drink of the radio team – he’s getting calls back from the likes of Ralph Nader, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer or the attorney general of Alabama.
Host Mark Reddig charges through the door each morning, properly caffeinated with a 44-ounce Diet Coke in tow. He’s a man on a mission, ready to take charge of the day. With less than 12 hours away from the office under his belt – and even less sleep – he’s still refreshed and ready to craft a show full of the news you can count on.
Sound engineers Barry “Iceman” Spillman and Jim “Fez” Fetzer ease into their seats behind computer screens filled with images that can only be compared with something between air traffic control and radioactive signals.
Discussions quickly turn to the scheduling of the day. Sure, it’s “just” an hour-long news show, but interviewing, scripting, recording, editing and choosing music takes a lot of time and even more planning.
Veteran radio news shows spend up to an hour of prep time for every minute of heavily produced airtime. The “Land Line Now” crew beats that estimate on a regular basis.
“It’s a great show and you’re a top-flight, remarkable team,” Open Road Channel Program Director Ken Johnson tells the staff from his office in DC. “In the year and half that it’s been on the air, it has become one of our most popular programs.”
The best-laid plans for every show are prey for the harpoons of breaking news, which appear without notice and change the daily “playlist” faster than Mark can slam down another 12 ounces of Diet Coke.
The morning meeting of the collective Land Line staffers – “Land Line Now” and Land Line Magazine – generally tells the tale.
Held each morning in the Land Line “War Room” – which is more appropriately named than you might think – staffers bring the news of the day, along with a plentiful supply of caffeine and various other kick-the-day-off drinks.
Mark runs down the proposed playlist for the day and the remainder of the week, with Reed pitching the day’s news stories.
Terry Scruton tells about the stories he’s hot on the trail of, followed by Keith Goble, Dave Tanner and Aaron Ladage turning up everything from the latest idling restrictions you will face to yet another state toying with the idea of selling off an interstate to even the news of the weird.
At any point during the presentation of news that developed overnight, you usually will see Land Line Managing Editor Sandi Soendker taking the staff back in time 15 years to when the story really started or Jami Jones dropping her head on the table because truckers are going to take it on the chin, again.
The morning huddle breaks with the new playlist in hand and all players taking their positions for the day.
Mark, Terry and Reed jockey for position in the two studios recording interviews and working with Iceman and Fez on edits and music selections.
By lunchtime, the show is starting to take shape – provided no more big news breaks. Mark checks with Land Line Magazine’s Coral Beach to see if there is any lawsuit news to report and makes a mental note to buzz OOIDA’s Member Assistance Department about an upcoming “Ask the Experts” segment.
State Legislative Editor Keith Goble goes over his weekly update on the status of state laws that affect truckers and heads up to the studio to record.
After lunch, the DC three – Rod Nofziger, Mike Joyce and Melissa Theriault – will call in an update about the goings-on at Capitol Hill. These insiders are always good for some juicy tidbit.
The afternoons commonly find either OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer or OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig on tap for a recording session. Both are known for not wasting words or sugar-coating a bad situation facing truckers.
Mark continues to craft together the pieces of the show – fitting a jigsaw puzzle of segments into a masterpiece of news and information. Iceman and Fez work the sound files over with the speed and agility of fighter pilots, removing extended ummmms and clearing static from call-in line comments.
It’s closing in on 3 p.m. The show must be uploaded by 4 p.m. in order for XM Satellite Radio’s crew to make it happen. That means the material recorded by the sound engineers is sent via “sound files” to XM’s broadcast operations center in Washington, DC.
Despite what most listeners may assume, the first thing you hear, the news with Reed, is actually one of the last things recorded each day – waiting for that one last big, breaking story. After collecting, researching, interviewing and writing the news, Reed has spent the last few minutes in meditation with his scripts.
Reed works his magic, delivering the news with that confident voice that is the end result of more than 30 years as a broadcast newsman.
Mark sits back, lights low, headphones on, eyes closed, giving a final listen to the last segment to be sent to XM.
With the show completed and uploaded to XM, there’s still no time to breathe.
Precisely at 7 p.m. EST, XM subscribers will hear the opening guitar riff from Webb Wilder’s version of “Baby Please Don’t Go” and the show’s “open.” Host Mark Reddig’s intro tells you what you’ll hear on the show and then it’s the daily news with Reed Black.
When the show hits the air, most of the time Mark and the sound crew are still in the studio, making sure the show is on the air with segments in the right order and plotting the material for the next day.
Tomorrow is a brand new day and the crew has less than 24 short hours to prepare nearly an hour of breaking news, attention-grabbing material and worthy, insightful comments from people who know their stuff.
Mark retires to his office and punches up the “comment line,” scouting for possibilities. One eye is scouring the news on the Net. His fingers move separately from his brain, pounding on the keyboard, preparing questions, scribbling intro notes for tomorrow’s interview lineup. Maybe it’s U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar. Maybe it’s NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne.
The Iceman has already left the world of today’s show and moved into tomorrow’s copy. It will need special music and hundreds of edits. Fez is working on archives.
Who’s up for Chinese carry-out for supper?