Trucking Radio, As It Used To Was

Once you get the bug to DX the AM band, out of your expanded choice of stations you typically find yourself a regular listener to some far-flung station after the sun sets. When I was a kid in southeastern Michigan, I got hooked on WCFL in Chicago, specifically listening to Bob Dearborn night after night. He had this late-night feature “Long Gold" where he’d play the full album version of a song that would normally abbreviated on top 40 radio (or perhaps not played at all). Seems silly now, but hearing the full version of the Animal’s “House of the Rising Sun,” or “Sky Pilot” seemed pretty heavy back then. (Remember when “heavy” was a good thing?)

Anyway, my longest DX love affair with a far-off radio station came a few years later. While still in Michigan, I came across the “Road Gang” on WWL in New Orleans one night in the mid 70′s. And for the next twenty years or so, WWL was always a signal I’d seek out when I could get my nocturnal fingers on a tuning knob.

Booming up the Mississippi basin, WWL comes in like a local many nights in the Great Lakes region, around a thousand miles to the north of the transmitter. In my listening experience, WWL at 870kHz has been the most dependable long-distance DX on the AM band. Although the reception isn’t nearly as reliable or clear here in the northeast.

Certainly, the original appeal of picking up the Road Gang back then was just how exotic it was to a Midwestern kid in the suburbs. The host back then was a guy named Charlie Douglas, and the music was old shit-kickin’ country music. Better yet, I discovered a whole country sub-genretrucker music. Songs like “Girl on the Billboard” and “A Kiss and the Keys,” are still favorites here at the house.

Then there were national weather reports, given by state and interstate highway. And commercials for every aspect of the trucker lifestyle. There was a time travel appeal as well. The whole approach to radio was from an era before I was born. Each time check was tagged as “King Edward Cigar Time.”

Actually, The Road Gang kind of started a radio format– the all-night trucking show. Today there’s a number of them, and none nearly as good. Douglas hosted the program for 13 years, until moving into some big national gig in Nashville. And weekend host of the Road Gang, Dave Nemo, moved into Charlie’s weeknight spot. And despite the rambling chatter that got me this far into the post, I’ve finally gotten around to the subject at hand– The man who moved into Nemo’s weekend slot on the Road Gang: John Parker.

Now considered radio legends, Charlie Douglas and Mr. Nemo were fun to listen to at the helm of the Road Gang– homespun showmen for the working class. But for a bundle of reasons John Parker was absolutely my favorite host on the show. With a big rugged baritone and a grab-bag of cornball slang and 18-wheel idioms, Parker was a humble charismatic voice in the night. A true radio companion for truckers, night owls and country music lovers.

So, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Here’s a full ninety minutes or so of Parker on WWL (in two parts) from January of 1988. As I said, WWL in New Orleans has a heck of a signal into the Great Lakes Region. Hear for yourself. Radio waves traveling roughly 920 miles arrive amazingly intact upon arrival. One thing you get used to when spend much time listening to distant AM stations, is "fading." You find that even loud and clear signals sometimes slip away into near nothingness (or reveal other faint stations on the same frequency). But the gaps are usually brief, and like so many things with AM & SW listening, often unpredictable. But the fading in this reception is pretty forgiving, and and doesn’t happen all that often. I think I made this recording because the signal was just so damn strong that night.

(download)

This aircheck is unscoped, meaning nothing was edited out, including the news and commercials. As you can hear from the “Interscan” weather reports, it was a cold snow flurry kind of night across America. And John himself was nursing a cold, but it hardly dampened his spirits. It’s Dave Nemo’s voice you hear on the truck stop commercials. I remember when I first set foot in the Slidell Union 76 trucks stop after hearing those ads from afar for so many years, I felt like I was on hollowed ground or something.

(download)

Yes, all the the trucker trappings of the show were a lot of fun, both for the real working class authenticity, as well as the corny mythos of American Trucker. But it was all the the great music that kept me coming back to the Road Gang over the years. This one program is responsible for making me a lifelong country music fan. The music format of the Road Gang was deep into the history of C&W– pin-balling all night from honky-tonk to old-timey to western swing, bluegrass, Nashville, Outlaw… The whole 40 acres. Each night a unique rich patch of tunes.

Then late each Saturday night, Parker held court for two hours on the AM dial with one of the finest music programs I’ve ever heard on the AM dial– "Country Music The Way It Used To Was." No slouch in music history, Parker was assisted by a musicologist or two in putting the show together. And each week he conducted a freewheeling country and western seminar, featuring hits and rarities from the first 40 years of country recordings. What a great program this was. So often, a deep musicology driven radio show like is presented by some excitable geek host, or a dispassionate or unprofessional one. And they’re like shiny museum exhibits on FM. With Parker you get history, music and great radio, and his program is on the historic AM band, where the music was first heard.

So let me offer you a couple of 47 minute chunks of "Country Music The Way It Used To Was." This first aircheck comes over a year after the first two in this post. And in that time I had actually moved from Michigan to New Orleans. So instead of having to put a special radio in a special place at a special time to pick up WWL, it was now a loud and clear local. So these two episodes of "Country Music The Way It Used To Was" are crystal clear AM broadcasts. However these airchecks are slightly edited. When I made these recordings I edited out most of the commercials, as well as the weather and news.

The first selection comes from February 26, 1989. (You may note that Parker makes note of their new satellite connection/syndication with KRVN in Lexington, Nebraska. It was a way of opening up the west to the Road Gang (foreshadowing the show’s eventual national syndication).  Nice eclectic mix in this hour– some tasty Texas Playboys, wacky Lew Chlldre and a bit of very early Johnny Cash (Little Woolly Booger?).

(download)

The next offering is from "Country Music The Way It Used To Was" broadcast August 13, 1989. Some solid from Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, who were also passengers on the fatal plane crash that snuffed out Patsy Cline’s life as well. But what always gets my attention when I hear this archive are the songs by Hank William’s wife, Audrey. Wow. I never knew she was talented that way.

(download)

In ended up in Florida for the first half of the 1990′s, and despite the fact that WWL’s transmitter is a few hundred miles closer to Tampa, the signal doesn’t have nearly the oomph it does beaming toward the north of New Orleans. I rarely picked it up while I was there. When I moved to New York City in ’97 I totally lost track of the Road Gang until I got home internet a year or two later. Then when looking online I discovered the program itself had relocated to Nashville. And although it was still syndicated on WWL, Parker had fallen off the schedule

In the summer of 1999, I sent a few emails to some folks at WWL trying to find out what happened to Parker and whether he was still on the air somehow. When I finally did get a response, it wasn’t good news. “John Parker still works for us,” the woman wrote. “He’s the overnight board operator… on from 11pm to 5am.” Board operator? One of my favorite radio voices was reduced to pushing buttons and adjusting levels? Don’t get me wrong, I think radio engineering is a noble profession. But it was distressing to hear that a great radio talent was reduced to technical duties.

The email from WWL gave me the number to reach Parker at the controls and assured that if I called in the middle of the night “John might be inclined to pick up.” As much as John Parker was an inspiration, I wasn’t inclined to reach out as a fan on the phone. I mean, what would I say?: “I thought you were really great on the radio. What happened?”

One thing I did learn from my time in New Orleans is how hard it is to leave the Crescent City. Especially if it’s always been your home. If you’ve never been there you might not understand, but suffice to say New Orleans has a sustaining quailty for those who love its humid maternal grace. (Which made the Katrina fiasco all the more tragic.) So it’s only a guess, but tend to think Parker didn’t follow the show to Nashville because he wasn’t willing to run away from home.

Then again, the music-heavy trucking radio format on continent-covering AM stations (as created by Charlie Douglas and others in the 1970′s) is long gone anyway.  Beside’s the Road Gang on WWL, there were also semi-national overnight shows out of 50,000 watt AM giants WLW in Cincinatti and WBAP in Fort Worth. Now trucking radio on AM is like most of what you hear on the dial– syndicated talk radio, only instead of discussing politics or sports, its trucker talk. Which can be kinda fun, but it’s not like hearing rare Bill Monroe tracks at three in the morning.

But the funny thing about that triumvirate of trucking radio shows that used to rule the night, is that like some rock supergroup the big named hosts from each program joined forces a few years ago to invest their decades of radio into an truckin’ all the time national satelittle station. The "Truckin’ Bozo" from WLW and the "Midnight Cowboy" from WBAP have teamed up with Dave Nemo to host their own programs on the "Open Road" channel on XM Radio. Since I’ve never been near an XM radio, I’ve never heard "Open Road." And while I realize that time marches on, I still have an aversion to paying a fee to listen to radio.

A year or two ago I ran across a fellow traveler in the radio business, and in the course of our introductory conversation we discovered we had both worked in New Orleans, which somehow led to the topic of John Parker. I found out this man I just met had been a fellow board-op with John. Apparently, Parker never let on that he used to be one of the hosts of the Road Gang for many years. As I write this I don’t recall all the details of our conversation, what stuck with me is that although this guy really liked John Parker, in real life he wasn’t exactly the easy-going gentleman I heard on the radio. He noted that Parker could be moody and odd. Even an introvert. Or maybe he was just pissed off that since he couldn’t or wouldn’t move to Nashville with the Road Gang that he was reduced to babysitting knobs instead of talking to half of America? And the most significant fact gleaned from that conversation was that John Parker had actually stopped living not that long ago.

So, my little anecdote of radio glory ends on a sad note. Both John Parker and thoughtful overnight music programs like his on U.S. clear channel AM stations are really part of history now (OK, there’s still WSM…) DXing medium wave just isn’t as much fun. And personally, I guess I blew my chance to pick up the phone and thank him for all those nights of great music and radio fellowship.

So, if you never heard Parker on the Road Gang years ago, I humbly implore you to have a listen. And get a taste of what it was like to have Honest John Parker bumpin’ around in the dark, makin’ all that noise.

Tagged with:

52 Responses to “Trucking Radio, As It Used To Was”

  1. doug Says:

    Nice grabs, and this is great stuff. Love the old country (and particularly, the trucking) music.

  2. Travers Says:

    I know you avert paying for satellite radio, but XM actually runs a quality channel with “Open Road” with the hosts doing what they did on AM years ago(although with much smaller audience).

  3. Peggy Says:

    Thanks so much for these files. I LOVED WWL road Gang, listened to it every night for many, many years. Loved the music, but also the comedy, especially the Bickersons, remember them? I have some old cassettes that I taped off of WWL back in the 1980′s around here somewhere.

  4. David Goren Says:

    It’s very gratifying to read your piece about John Parker and the Road Gang. I too, had a late night obsession for Paker in the late 1980′s and early 90′s, and recorded about 100 hours or so of him. Indeed, He was a genius at what I call “cornball nihilism,” He was also a master at creating a nighttime community, the “Weekend Worriers.” I loved how he would inspire various truckers to create songs, and tall tales about each other and sing them on the air. There did seem to be a dark side, to which your N.O. contact alludes. He’d complain about his age, his weight (once commenting that he would need two double extra large shirts to make one that would fit him.) and married life…it appeared that he was bitterly divorced.

    You’re intuition is also right about the move to Nashville. This happened around ’93 or ’94. I had been listening less to the show in the ’90′s. My own move from Washington, DC to NYC in 1990 resulting in much poorer reception. When the satellite network started I could hear the RG again via WWVA. But the move to the satellite, also seemed to foreshadow the end of the previous “freeform old time” country format. Little by little, my favorite features disappeared including the Weekend Warriors, and Country Music the Way it Used to Was. Parker still had the great delivery, but the banter shifted towards NASCAR related gossip with CB handled callers. I still checked in from time to time, and tuned in the night after the show relocated to Nashville. There was a new weekend guy, and people kept calling to ask “Where’s Brother John?” The answer was that he didn’t want to leave New Orleans.

  5. prof Says:

    David, thanks for the great comment. It’s a real bonus when a reader adds more background and information to a post. And thanks for solving the riddle on Parker’s disappearance from the show. Wish there was a happy end to the story. He was a real talent, and for a while he had a helluva gig.

    Thanks again.

  6. Bob Says:

    I thought I was the only one who remembered “King Ed cigar time”, and I feel sorry for those who didn’t make it a point to wake up at midnight to listen to John. He kindled in me an interest in Country music history, that has me up, now, well after midnight listening to “country music the way it used to was” and mourning the loss of a great DJ

    Bob

  7. Taylor the sailor Says:

    I listened to the Road Gang on KSL Salt Lake City, I was working as Mate on a Tug running west coast to Honolulu, We tuned in each night all the way to Honolulu. I too mourn the loss of of a radio family.

  8. moses chatellier Says:

    I listened to the ” road gang” music when I was a whopping 15 years old. I had to have the radio in my window and turned down low so I could listen all night long. I would like to find the story of “The Mule and The Planting Bugle” on cd and any others that I do not remember so I can be taken back to a time of my life when things seemed less hecktic and more tranquil. Any help in finding this would be great.

  9. Thom Says:

    Good old sh**t kicking music is not gone. Check out my web site and you’ll see that it is alive and well.

  10. Paul Nelson Says:

    Oh, man!
    Thank you so much for refreshing my failing memory!
    I could not remember John’s last name! I used to listen to WWL through the weekend mornings on the AM radio at an all night coffee house in Athens, GA.
    I heard a song on the show, maybe once or twice, and have never been able to track it down.
    The Ballad of Quantrill by John Henry(?)
    It was a long and rambling story-type song.
    I wonder if you ever heard it on John Parker’s show.
    I preferred John to Mr. Nemo, hands down.
    I loved his accent. He would say “Carbin” for Corbin, KY., my mother’s home town,and Narth en lieu of North.
    Thank you very kindly indeed!
    Best regards,
    another humble ol’ fan of “Country music the way it used to was”…
    Paul

  11. Ed Nichols Says:

    Glad I stumbled on this site. I grew up with an AM radio under my pillow and remember it all. WCFL’s-”Chickenman”, WWL,WLW,WSM. Ralph Emory, Charlie Douglas. Couldnt get over being in West Virginia and listening to Bill Mack in Texas. WRVA in Richmond VA. Even listened to a couple ball games on WABC-NY. CKLW from Canada, and some station in Del Rio TX that transmitted about 150KW out of Mexico. I am curious though. Of all the big stations and trucker shows, how did you miss mentioning the powerhouse of the great northeast in the 70′s? WWVA 1170AM with my friend Buddy Ray, and the world famous Saturday night Jamboree. I miss the Bickersons!

  12. Bob Says:

    >>John Parker still works for us,” the woman wrote. “He’s the overnight board operator… on from 11pm to 5am.” Board operator? One of my favorite radio voices was reduced to pushing buttons <<

    I seem to remember (or dreamt) that John was Nemo’s board operator and filled in for him when he was off for some reason, and weekends. Nemo was good. John was better.

    Bob

  13. Larry Henderson Says:

    I too listened to WWl and the Road Gang in the ’70′s & ’80′s during my years as a trucker out of Texas. John and Nemo provided me with a bench mark which always made me feel a little closer to home.870 & 820 were real close on the dial and when john faded out Bill Mack was always waiting on WBAP. Also, Harold Taft covered the weather and over towards morning Dick Yaws could always wake me up with a good story. But the thing I always waited to hear was the story by Jerry Clowers, Justin Wilson, Charlie Douglas or some other humorist which WWL provided every hour. YOU can’t go to sleep when you are laughing that hard!!!

  14. Peggy Says:

    I found this online – what memories!
    http://www.imeem.com/people/VhwtaT9/music/t7vhjCWo/charlie_douglas_dammit_ray/

  15. Tommy Vowell Says:

    My son and I are on a camping outing…its kind of cool, so we hopped into my pickup to get warm and then it dawned on me that I used to listen to WWL when I was a police officer in New Orleans. Although I couldnt find it on the dial, I picked up my cell and found this site. after some very long nights of work on patrol the Road Gang was a constant friend on the radio.

    When I think about it, that was 14 years ago. the show was a boredom buster on long shifts while I found a quiet spot to study for my Masters degree classes. Thanks for this site and thanks for reminding me of the road gang!

  16. Jason Says:

    I’m honored to have been a bit player in such a great post, and I’m looking forward to hearing the other side of John Parker at long last. He really was a trip. Thanks for bringing it back home, Professor.

  17. April Massey Says:

    I am wondering if this John Parker is the same as Big John Parker from Marshall County Kentucky. I know he was a pretty big disc jockey and he was big and tall?
    His classmates are looking for him? Last we heard he was in Louisville.

  18. Blair Says:

    Sad to say, John Parker passed away in 2004 from cancer. I worked with him at Entercom in New Orleans.

    I met him and Dave Nemo back in 1976 when I was working at a small country station in town when I was 16 years old. At the time, WWL’s studios were on Rampart St. next to WWL-TV. The AM/FM studios were on the 2nd floor and Road Gang had the 3rd floor to themselves, more less an attic remodeled for the kids. Parker originally worked answering phones for Charlie and Dave. Once Charlie left, John stepped right in. John loved working at night and when Nemo left for Nashville, he stayed behind and board op’ed for the syndicated show until they dropped it. He loved that shift regardless of what he was doing. He did a lot of show-prep for Bob Delgiorno in the morning and actually worked 11pm-7am.

    Had anyone called him, he’ll love to talk with them. He was an expert of New Orleans radio history dating back to the 50′s when he was growing up in the city. I often joke with him that he should write a book. He had an incredible collection of music on vinyl. At his home in Algiers, he had one room just for music. He had two walls, ceiling to floor, of just 45′s and one of albums. I had to bring him records from London back in 1982. He wouldn’t let me leave without his list. He knew New Orleans music like the artist were all relatives. He could talk for days and not repeat himself. I soaked up a lot of history from him.

    I’m glad to have known him, worked with him and more so, able to call him a close friend. He would have been humbled by these posts. Thanks for the kind words for a passed friend!

    -Blair Kullman
    New Orleans

  19. Ken H Says:

    Wish I had a dollar for every mile I’ve run listening to Charlie, Don and John. Overnight shows will never be the same again, much be the pity. I have listened to XM, but still not the same. Not saying that it is good, but just not the same. Would love to find a copy of the Plantin Bugle, but haven’t had much luck.

  20. Richard L Says:

    In the early 70′s, still in my early 20′s, I would awaken at 3:00 am to Charlie Douglas’ Road Gang show on WWL. I would lie quitely in bed and awaken slowly to Jerry Clower and the intercontinental weather. The Road Gang theme song was always playing, a violin instrumental, when my radio came on. I never new the name of this song and have been unable to find the name. Would anyone know the name of this song?

  21. Mike Maxson Says:

    Professor, you bring back a lot of memories to this Northwest Ohio boy. For some reason I decided to enter the search term Old Time Trucking Radio in Google, and low and behold I found this page.

    I am now 46, but back in the early seventies when I was about 10 or so, I found my Dad’s old multi-band radio. Now being a kid who was a night-owl, and I a still am, I began going up and down the dial, and was AMAZED to find out I could hear all of these distant radio staions coming in.

    At the time I did not even know that was I was doing was a hobby, let alone that it was called DX’ing! I dutifully recorded each station’s frequency and call letters in a “log-book. As I got older I then discovered the “shortwave” bands and did the same thing.

    Year’s later, I received my Amateur Radio License, and have been into the hobby of radio ever since. However those early days of listening to WWL New Orleans are some of the best memories for me. Many I night as a teenager when I could not sleep, Charlie Douglas and Dave Nemo kept me company.

    I still sometimes tune in to WWL for old time’s sake, but it is just not the same.

    73′s N8WPE
    Mike

    PS I also run a WordPress Blog, and I really like what you have done with your theme.

  22. spiritof67 Says:

    Two years ago I found an aircheck of Charlie Douglas’ Roadgang–it contains the mule story.  The recording was made in 1978 and can be found here: (download).

    The first time I ever heard The Road Gang I was about 10.  My dad used to listen to the show on overnight road trips.  I listened to the show through the years until 2002.

    Charlie, Dave and John were all great hosts.  The show was one of the most personable radio programs I have ever heard.

    Richard L., if it helps, I remember  that violin instrumental, and heard a version of it a few years ago.  The version of the song I heard was performed by Artie Shaw, but the arrangement was different.  I wish I knew the title, but this information might narrow it down for you.

    Besides King Edward Cigar Time, I also remember "Interscan Weather," which for a time used Kraftwerk’s "Autobahn" as the bumper music,  ads for "The Country Store," selling music for artists like Ernest Tubb and Grandpa Jones, and Pastor Paul Radke’s religious messages.

  23. Mark Paperboy Says:

    I remember listening to the Road Gang as early as 1976. I was 17. Delivering the Sunday morning Milwaukee Journal, 2-3 hours before sunrise, presented a reliable and repeatable chance to hear what others have described as exotic sounds from a faraway place. Faraway in distance, and at the time, lifestyle. Having not yet traveled more than 100 miles or so from south eastern Wisconsin, Slidell might as well been in Thailand. I think the Road Gang sparked a travel gene that lives today. Got me through some cold nights too. Thanks,

  24. John Says:

    I have hours, and hours of “the way it used to was” radio shows. though not as clear as these, but decent recordings just the same. They are from 1990-1992…I even have the very last broadcast….most of these shows however, are all from hour #1, and 1 or 2 songs from hour #2, because the show would cut to a religous program. It used to come on WWVA Wheeling, West VA. Anybody know how to preserve these on a cd?

  25. ken s Says:

    does anyone have any old tapes of the truckin bozo from the days of WLW 700 to sell or download. or even bill mack or davr nemo. thanks

  26. Bawb Says:

    I don’t know why I hadn’t searched on the web for the Road Gang and found your archives sooner. I started in radio back in 1981 in NW PA and three months into that gig, began playing country from 5-11 in the mornings for the next six years. I took a while to warm to the music I played, but came to love it passionately and still do. With those hours I kept, listening to WWL became another passion; oh, how I love the sound of those old singing jingle ID’s! Sad to hear what John Parker has had to swallow, but anyone who’s known or been in radio over the past quarter century wouldn’t be surprised. Alas, I myself have been sidetracked and waylaid by bad breaks and the realities of the business. But it’s wonderful to hear the Road Gang once again…THANKYOU,THANKYOU,THANKYOU!!!

  27. Chris Says:

    Richard L, the violin theme song was the “12 o clock Jump”, I believe. They actually had different opening songs. I remember Tiger by the Tail by Buck Owens and Rocky Top when Dave took over in the middle of the night. If I remember , Charlie came on after CBS Mystery Theater was over, which may have been 10,11 Central and Dave came in later on. I wish I could find some of the old WWL station jingles they played back then

  28. tom Says:

    the road gang was so much fun!!

  29. JasonReed Says:

    I have a few of the old WWL “singing” jingles on cassette…. I believe these are from the late 80′s/early 90′s. Audio quality is pretty good. It’s from different random airchecks. Let me know!

  30. Chris Says:

    “King Edward Cigar time is 10 before the hour, time to enjoy a King Edward Imperial”

    Jason, if there is a way to post them, that would be great.

  31. William RUSH Says:

    Finding this site earlier tonight, reading the history of THE ROAD GANG, (plus the many well written Replies above) has been a great discovery for a life-long lover of AM Radio in general – and the great WWL 870 broadcasts in particular.
    I was not a 'Trucker' but spent most of my working hours 'on the roads' as a Lawman.  I am Retired now and it is not possible to tell anyone just how much a part of my "Nights", especially in the early 80s, that WWL's Trucking Show became starting at Midnight in Houston, Texas.  Other officers had 870 AM set on their police unit radios and many of the Breaking News from around our Nation was delivered to us before any other stations made announcements.  The music was good and ranged from the classic to the modern, the Program Format quick paced, and Dave Nemo's friendly voice could make a commercial for a Speedway Truck Stop menu cause your mouth to water.  Who listened and wasn't stirred by Dave's super recording of "I AM THE AMERICAN TRUCKER"?
    Now that the show is long gone I deeply regret that I didn't make any effort to record the shows on a nightly basis!  Why should I?  The show was going to last forever, right?  And too you must imagine how difficult it would be to try to record even a full hour while making calls and the reception changed with every turn in direction.  But one night for a reason I really don't understand (except in looking back now) it seemed very important to me to bring a large cassette recorder to the P.D. with me; that night, Jan. 12th thru 13th of 1999, the weather was cold and wet – the misty night kept the criminals indoors and the radio traffic was light.  As I pulled onto the road I had WWL tuned in and was recording when Dave Nemo came on the air live.
    And I mean LIVE!  Broadcasters today are proud of their 'bumper music' but NO ONE ever had the bang-up GOOD Music & Station I.D. intro of WWL!!!  Thank God I've got it on tape and I listen to it frequently.  Nothing today even slightly resembles the feeling of being party to a close community covering our entire Nation through the long nights.  Dave Nemo's very detailed Weather Reports, just like John Parker's, somehow made you feel like the distant states were just another part of your own backyard and the truckers your neighbors next door.   
    If anyone has recordings of THE ROAD GANG that they would like to share, I'd love to have them.  I only have the one recording but it is complete and unedited.  The ONLY way to enjoy a recorded show because the Commercials and the News give such a mosaic of who we were and where our country was headed the date of the broadcast.
    Since Retirement, I have turned to the world of Art.  I am no longer taking commissions and just share a wide variety of subjects and mediums.  Should you care to reach me you can use the CONTACT THE ARTIST Form in Art Gallery 10 at http://www.rushartisticproductions.com
    It is so nice to find that many others enjoyed the wonderfully unpredictable signal of AM Radio.  The 'fading', hissing and popping of  'static' added a sense of "Real Time" to each and every broadcast – even upon Replay years later.  My own Sons, now in their early 20s, only know of this because of my recordings of Old Time Radio shows.  What a loss to us wo remember – and what a Blessing that AM Radio was a major part of our lives.
    William RUSH 
     
     

  32. mr hoag Says:

     I am so happy to hear this  music I thought it was gone for ever I used to listen to dave nemo and  the ones before him with my little nine volt transiter radio. I would poke a hole in it and use it for a ant lol thank you so much for saveing this  true history of radio before fm. like some of the rest of us i just can't bring myself to pay to listen to radio. thaks again for it. tom hoag in kansas city ks

  33. Efrem Says:

    My, my, my Big John Parker the way it used to was.  I used to listen to The Road Gang as well as Larry Scott's Interstate Road Show and those were the days that the DJ seemed to be your personal friend.  Nemo was good, but I took time to listen to John Parker and his music the way it used to was.
    I listened out of San Antonio and clandestinely listened to the show when I stayed up at night when I went to Pensacola Christian College where listening to country music was forbidden.  John Parker, I hope to see you on the other side.

  34. Bill Says:

    I was a huge fan of the Road Gang myself.  It kept me awake on many a midnight shift.  Thanks for the site!  This is great.
    I stumbled across it looking for a copy of the 'Ballad of Quantrill' by googling.  Any ideas?

  35. ken foster Says:

    Wow , I nearly forgot about the Road gang, I first found it while stationed in Del Rio Texas in the 1980's. I listened to it every weekend and enjoyed it. After returning from Germany I found it off and on while stationed in Missouri. Since the move to North Dakota I lost it again. Years later while looking thru a radio guide I thought of the old road gang and wondered if it was still on the air.  I've always been a rock and roller but really enjoyed the old country music they played and listening to the trucker stories. Thanks for the memories. Ken F

  36. Fred B Says:

    Thanks for all the comments about WWL . and the Road Gang . Douglas , Nemo and John Trimble. I used to listen to them in the truck and I rember the howl or the background noise in the truck radio and then would hear the King Edward Cigar Time  would be. …. I live in northern Ky and I would also pick up a station out of VA 1140 on the am dial to start off the night with Big John Trimble at the Geraldean truckstop. Would always here the Player Piano Roll I think was the song that started the show off. Then when he went off the air the Trucking Bozo was on in Cincinnait . When the old shows were on the nation was booming. Factorys were producing trucks were moving the products. Now the factorys seem like they are gone. We have distribution centers. What the trucks haul are imported stuff from foreign countrys to the distribution centers. Most of the big trucking companys are gone. I guess time moves on but I wonder if in this case it might not be for the better.

  37. Chris Says:

    Charlie passed away Thanksgiving Day 2011 at the age of 78
     
    http://www.wwltv.com/news/WWL-Road-Gang-radio-show-creator-Charlie-Douglas-dies-at-78-134680543.html

  38. stan Says:

    The fiddle song was called the Plow Boy Rag

  39. Michael T. "Josh" Fuller Says:

    I was maybe the second or third producer for The Road Gang Show and I loved every minute of meeting the stars and talking with the listeners. WWL was so powerful we often got calls from Hawaii and Germany.
    Another road gang alumni was Ross MIles. Mr. Miles was my broadcasting teacher at Elkins Institute, 333 St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.
    I am now retired from broadcasting and I publish a couple of small publications in East Texas but there are times when I wish I could hear Doug, (Charlie Douglas) say one more time over the strains of the Nashville Symphony's version of Orange Blossom Special…"HOW YOU WUZ!?"

  40. Ron Says:

    I remember heading out to work in the Gulf of Mexico. Two AM in the morning, trying to stay awake, it was no problem. I loved Charlie Douglas and the Road Gang Show. That was entertainment in it's purest form. Can't tell you how many times I had to stop on the side of the road and wipe tears from laughing so hard. There is one song that I have not been able to find. It was about husband and wife, her name was Opal. The husband got fed up and begun telling her about all the things she did, which offended him and everyone else. Any information would greatly be appreciated.

  41. Robert Henry Says:

    I really miss Honest John and Ol' Smokey. I had to call every night, add my two cents. On Thursday nights I would call John to see what he wanted to conjure up for his weekend show.  I became a Lieutenant. John was a big Amos n' Andy fan and he dreamed up stuff for us to do from those shows. Remember my testimonial dinner at Wallace Oil,  and  nobody showed up, well that was from one of the Amos n' Andy shows. I used to have more fun with that show!  He used to say Snake Hips you have been smelling too many gas fumes.

  42. Keith Daniels Says:

    Ron , the song you seek is called 'Opal, You asked me' and the artist is Tommy Collins. Look on Youtube and its posted there.
    I am from and live in Slidell, The Road Gang was a part of my life too, I can remember in my childhood ( I am 42) having it on all night in my room, and waking up to the Interscan weather,  marveling at the places they reported on, and it all seeming so far away. I sure do miss it. 

  43. ol khule Says:

    Lest we ever forget… Ole chin whiskers.

  44. Frank Says:

    I was Santa for Mr. Parker.  Had lots of fun.  Sure do miss him.  

  45. Gerald D. Cox Says:

    Hello. I enjoyed this very much.  I am the "Professor" Jerry Cox that John Parker referred to frequently on the program.  I once told John that he was making country music history and taking "Professor" Bill Clark and me with him.  These postings you have here all these many years later, proves it so.  I got to visit with John and Dave Nemo at their WWL studio.  It was a thrilling experience.  Thanks for your work of posting on the net all of the info concerning, "Country Music The Way It Use To Was."  Sincerely, Jerry Cox.  

  46. prof Says:

    Mr. Cox it's an honor to have you comment on this post. Obviously you were making history and I'm so glad that I was able to make note of it here and share your work with the world.

    John was masterful, but you and Bill Clark gave his show a sense of country music magic for which I am forever thankful. Thanks for checking in!

  47. Alan Reynolds Says:

    I listened to The Road Gang for over 25 years when in the trucking business and called the show every opportunity I had.  John would often put me on the air with no notice and start asking questions that made me squirm from time to time.  He would frequenty ask callers to sing the song they were requesting.  That would usually lead to some fun and laughter.  I remember very well his frequent references to Professor Jerry Cox as well as the the piano playing legend Professor BIll Clark (from up around Denton, TX I believe).  Although I lived (and still do) in upstate New York I mostly hauled into and out of a plant in Cucamonga, CA and that was the address both John and Dave gave when they announced my requests.  I sold my trucking business a number of years ago, but that was only after The Road Gang left WWL.   I've started doing a radio show featuring old time and traditional country and western music at a local low power FM station.  Anyone who has heard The Road Gang will be unable to miss John Parker's influence.  I, too, would like to find a copy of "Quantrille", but I do like Dave's version.

    Alan Reynolds

  48. bob good Says:

    I listened to the Road Show  11pm  driving to work at the usps in rockville, md (from bladensburg, md) in the 80s.  I sure miss charlie douglas driving a big rig down the hi-way or sailing a ship at sea – those were his come-on words.  Things never remain the same, do they.

  49. James ( SilverTonguedDevil Says:

    Wow, I surly do miss the old road gang. i did have XM just before I retired. I remember when Dave would play the 10 minute version of Quantrill. I e-mailed Dave a few years back and asked about it and was told , he was trying to get rights to it. never did find out if he did or not. I would surly love to have a copy or just hear it again. If anyone has a copy let me know.Thanks to all.

  50. Don Crouse Says:

    Thank-you, Alan Colmes for the memories. I was working at Chrysler in Belvidere, Il. 8-9 hrs. a day and 9 hrs. a night as a punch press opparater. We were allowed to have a radio as we worked. I started hearing this program out of New Orleans. " Wheather your Truckin down the road for fun or profit, maybe your high ballin it across our great country. Or maybe on a tanker or tub maybe your walkin the floor because you're not Feelin good. Whatever and where ever we'd be pleased to have you join us for good ole country music way down yonder in New Orleans for the Charlie Douglas Road Gang." The best trucker's show from here to Ludowisci. I was one of only a hand full of drivers that got to be up in the attic for a show with John Parker. Thanks to the Road Gang I've meet a bunch of great drivers across this great country in my 41 plus years of driving. Dave Nemo has been a great friend. He knows he helped get me off that assembly line. When my 16 1/2 yr. Old Son was killed in 1989 there were flowers at His visitation from 21 different states. My Mom would go to bed with an ear plug in Her ear and more times than not wake up when the song I called in to request. I got to talk to John about a mo. before he died. Dave Nemo and I agreed it was proably best He was gone before the hurricane hit because that would have broke His heart as much as He loved New Orleans . Thanks Charlie, Dave, And John. From "At the House Crouse". But still driving for T.S.Boyd Grain out of Washington, In.

  51. Don Crouse Says:

    I don't see it mentioned how John got his start on the "Road Gang". He was listening to Charlie and quite often Charlie would say "I know that record is here but I can't find it"! John called him and offered to alphabatize all his records free of charge. Charlie let him do it and if I remember right it took him about 2 mos. in his spare time but when he got done they had quite a library. John got to know Charlie and he was needing someone and John got the job. I'm not sure what year that was but he was already there in 1973 when I thought sounds like those folks are having a lot of fun, "Truckin up and down the road for fun or profit". I remember one commercial where Charlie said" if you'd like to impress your friends by pulling a trailer behind that truck". Don't remember what company it was for. Dad always enjoyed talking to Charlie because they were the same age.

  52. prof Says:

    Hey Don, thanks for stopping by, and for adding more details to the story. So many of us miss the Road Gang, and especially big John.

Leave a Reply