OOIDA member featured in reality TV dating show

| 6/22/2007

Ken Sawyer didn’t recognize the voice on the other end of his cell phone.

Photo: Courtesy/CMT Networks

OOIDA member Ken Sawyer plays pool with one of his set-up dates for an upcoming CMT reality show, "Born Country."

But as soon as he heard the call was requesting his appearance on a Country Music Television reality show, one image came to mind:

“I thought, wow – ‘Trick My Truck’ called!” said Ken, an OOIDA member currently living in Leesburg, FL.

As it turns out, the voice was putting together the cast for a documentary-style reality television series called “Born Country” that features ordinary Americans singing like country music stars, showing off their crazy family and having a redneck wedding.

Ken, a divorced father of three sons, was selected for the show’s “Looking for Love” episode, which included cameras following him on three dates in April.

Casting directors from the CMT network told Ken they wanted to showcase a trucker to illustrate the difficulty of finding a date while going out on the road for weeks and months at a time. Ken’s supervisors at Panther Expedited Services in Seville, OH, nominated him to the show’s casting directors.

Though it cost him some money he could have made driving between Arkansas and Tennessee for the dates, Ken said he’s glad he allowed the cameras into the cab of his red 2002 Volvo 770 for a few days.

“I’m not a dedicated driver, I’m all over the place,” he said. “I figured what the heck – I was married once, I ain’t scared of nothing no more.”

Ken moved from Benton, AR, to Florida last year after his home burned to the ground.

The reality show’s producers made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to make Ken cry while talking about the fire, he said.

“They wanted to make it look like I was all shook up, but man, it’s like, that was a year ago,” Ken said.

Producers also tried coaxing Ken into saying he “pretty much knew everything there was to know about trucking,” a statement he regrets agreeing to half-heartedly after enduring on-camera pressure.

“For anybody that watches the show – I wasn’t trying to be a bighead,” Ken told Land Line. “I think the guy that claims to know most things about trucking is full of crap, personally.”

For the show, Ken took a Little Rock teacher for a lunch date at JJ’s Truck Stop in Malvern, AR. The two were polite but didn’t have that “Chuck Woolery magic,” Ken said.

In fact, the show was less like “Love Connection” and more like “Blind Date,” a show that features in-date interviews and clashes between the strangers.

Ken said he endured a terrible date at a pool hall with an apartment manager from Little Rock, AR. His date wasn’t only disinterested, but answered his questions in one- or two-word sentences, Ken said.

“We had the date from hell,” Ken said. “The best thing I can say about her was that she didn’t have BO … I’m hoping the camera can’t see my speedometer because I don’t want the safety man to know how fast I drove to get her home.”

The episode of the show featuring Ken is scheduled to air at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, July 6, on the CMT cable channel, according to Christina Kuhn, a CMT spokeswoman.

Whether Ken was looking for love or just a few laughs, he’s actually stayed in touch with Kelly, a Nashville woman who went on a date with him to a zoo.

“Maybe it turns into something down the line,” Ken told Land Line. “What do I have to lose – my dignity?”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer