By Dave Sweetman
Dale, Almighty, What a Pal. That’s not exactly how the song goes, but in this case, it fits just fine.
In one’s lifetime, if you are lucky, you get to know a few movers, shakers and motivators. Those who not only master their craft, but perfect the art of making others into movers and shakers in their own right.
Dale Sommers, the “Truckin’ Bozo,” is one such rare individual. For more than 20 years I have been listening to Dale and his cast of call-in characters on the radio. The wacky antics of “Little Brother,” “Hollywood,” “Elvis” and others have kept the programs from being too serious. It is more than just entertainment and cutting up from jokers and wiseacres, as there are many serious sides.
On the serious side of driver call-ins, regular contributors like Rusty Wade and “Brooklyn,” among others, offer their own viewpoints of how to better the world of trucking.
Truckin’ Bozo often has his hands full keeping the shows from falling off the deep end of the gene pool, but a little controversy is good to keep the listeners from nodding off at the wheel. Or as a friend of mine once told me, “If you throw a rock into a pack of wild dogs, the one who yelps is the one you hit.” It’s darn good radio.
Dale has also been a longtime supporter of OOIDA, and I can honestly say the reason I joined 20 years ago was because of the Truckin’ Bozo. Politics, current events and news that affect the driver and owner-operator get equal treatment on his program. And it has been through much of Bozo’s ranting and raving that I have become more politically aware and more proactive on issues that make a difference.
Dale has been not only the messenger, but also the teacher. Many of us drivers have learned a lot during the late night hours on WLW-AM and for the past few years on XM Satellite Radio Channel 171.
Those late night hours were made less lonely, less boring and more educational through the Truckin’ Bozo’s programs. And in many ways, during the years Dale has brought many drivers together as a family, as a brotherhood and as professionals.
I can remember when he would do remote broadcasts from truck stops. It was such a treat to find the man behind the microphone the same in person as he is on the air.
During terrible times in our nation’s recent history, such as during the dark days of Sept. 11, 2001, Dale kept the listeners informed with that same reverence and respect.
Several years ago, in Louisville, KY, at the Mid-America Trucking Show, I had a chance to chat with him on just that subject. He has such an enormous following that continues all these years later. He has helped many of us down the road for millions of miles, so saying thank you is just not enough.
But I did say thank you, and I did get a very warm and hearty handshake, and I did look him in the eye and see the respect that he has for his listeners and fans. I saw how he is loved by his followers who hold him in high esteem. I also saw how he respectfully treats those he disagrees with, but still holds his own.
In recent years, Dale has been in failing health, but continues to work his craft in spite of his illnesses. A setback will scare the listeners, and a few days later he’s back at the microphone in full color. He’s a tough old bird but carries on with his rants on a daily basis as though it is the medicine that keeps him going. In many more ways than he knows, it is the medicine that keeps the listeners going, too.
So, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, thanks for the millions of miles and billions of smiles. We couldn’t ask for a better friend of the road. Here’s hoping for a couple million more miles riding with the “Boz.”
Happy trails. LL
Dave Sweetman can be reached