By Clarissa Kell-Holland
Rollye James’ talk radio show appeals to many truck drivers because she admits she’s a kindred spirit to them and shares their love for the open road.
She said getting her driver’s license at 16 was one of the most liberating events in her life. A few months later, she said, she got a car and “took off.”
“I developed a hobby that I was going to drive the U.S. interstate system and I always joked that I completed it, which is more than the government ever did,” she told Land Line. “I love driving. By the time I was in my mid-20s, I had driven every inch of interstate in America.”
Through the years, Rollye said, her love for driving has led several people to ask her the same question, “Why aren’t you a trucker?”
“I laugh and say, ‘No, you don’t understand. The weather’s good, I drive for several hours, and then I check into a hotel,’ ” Rollye said. “When you’re a commercial driver, people don’t realize that you’ve got a deadline. You’ve got to get something from point A to point B, no matter what the weather is, no matter how you feel or what road construction project is happening.”
Rollye said that more than once she has been helped out by a trucker when she’s been stranded alongside the road. She blames most of her roadside problems on a Corvette she bought when she turned 21.
“This car had a 15-gallon tank and it probably got 3 miles to the gallon if I had the air-conditioning on,” she said. “I would run out of gas in this nonstop. I can’t tell you how many drivers would pull over. … They’d get me gas, then they’d turn around and bring me back. And you know at the time, I didn’t even realize it – these guys are on a schedule and they are doing this for me.”
Something to talk about
During the week, listeners tune in nightly from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern on XM Satellite Radio’s Channel 165 to hear “The Rollye James Show.” Part of the show’s draw is that she’s not hesitant to talk about virtually anything on the air.
She has the philosophy that she wants to cover the topics that people are talking about “at the corner bar.” The majority of what she talks about on her show is not even covered by mainstream media, Rollye said.
“Callers to talk radio are like records to music radio. You want to play the hits,” she said. “You want to talk about the things the listener will enjoy because 99 percent of the people who listen to your show will never pick up the phone and call you.”
Seven nights a week, listeners can tune in all night to hear replays of Rollye’s show on XM Channel 158.
Talk radio host supports independent truckers
Rollye and her husband, Jon, are both OOIDA members, even though they are not drivers. She said she has a unique perspective on trucking and urges her listeners to support OOIDA in the fight for the rights of America’s truckers. She said this is necessary to prevent the American independent driver from “nearing extinction.”
She said she worries that the government is trying to over-regulate the trucking industry in an attempt to force out independent truckers. She said that would allow the government to step in and take over all of trucking.
The Mexican truck issue is a prime example of how the government has interceded through the implementation of the cross-border pilot program with Mexico, according to Rollye.
She said the program is going to make it harder for owner-operators to do business and make a decent living because they will be competing against Mexican truck drivers coming across the border who are willing to work for less.
On her Web site, rollye.net, Rollye has the OOIDA logo and a link to the Association’s Web site, ooida.com.
One of her pet peeves is shared by many OOIDA members: inadequate driver training for four-wheelers.
need physics lessons
In high school, many students are required to take a course in physics. Rollye said if she had it her way, basic physics would be required for four-wheelers taking driver’s tests. She said four-wheelers often violate the laws of physics when sharing the road with truckers.
“You can only stop in so many feet when you’ve got so much weight, and you will see four-wheelers do things to big rig drivers where, literally, drivers will put their lives on the line to save a stupid four-wheeler who did something insane. You know, if I were a big rig driver, I don’t think I’d be that compassionate,” she said.
She said most people forget many of the heroic deeds truckers do out on the road to help others. Instead, they focus on a few negative incidents they have seen or experienced on the highways.
“Everyone remembers the one incident with the guy that followed too close or cut them off, but you are talking about a very, very small percentage of drivers who will do that,” she said. “But when it happens, it’s front and center in someone’s mind. What they fail to realize is that the other 99 percent are great drivers.”
How’d that get here?
Rollye said a common complaint she hears from people is that they expect their local store shelves to be stocked when they visit, but they don’t want to be bothered by how the products got there.
“Most people don’t even realize they should have an interest in trucking,” she said. “I’ve had people say things like, ‘Oh, no, I don’t have anything delivered home. And I think to myself, how do you think it gets to the store? I don’t care what it is, it came on a truck.”
On the issue of truck parking and the reality that many municipalities around the country are trying to ban truckers from delivering loads or parking their rigs, Rollye’s answer is simple, although she said it’s not a very feasible one for truckers to carry out.
“My answer is simple. If there are municipalities that don’t want truckers, they’re not going to get anything delivered,” she said. LL