Radio's Dave Nemo announces retirement, year-long series of events

Updated Mar 27, 2024
Dave Nemo
Dave Nemo

After over 50 years of keeping truck drivers entertained radio personality Dave Nemo is retiring from his full-time duties as host of The Dave Nemo Show on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Channel 146. While he will continue to lend his name, expertise, and voice to the broadcast, Nemo is stepping back to play percussion, travel, and in his own words, “Do what I wanna to do when I wanna to do it.”

Nemo will spend this coming year not only continuing to host his show but also increasing his travel schedule to thank his many friends throughout the industry. Calling these appearances “The Last Ride of The Road Gang,” RadioNemo of North America will be celebrating the career of their namesake co-founder with parties, live broadcasts, and special events. The connected events will be sponsored by United Axle, Drivers Legal Plan, and JobsinTrucks

“The Last Ride of The Road Gang” got underway at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville when Nemo made the official announcement from the SiriusXM broadcast booth on March 23.

But Nemo has made it clear that this is not goodbye but merely, “another new direction in what has been a long journey.”

For the better part of five decades, Nemo focused on the informational needs of his truck driver listeners. Beginning principally as a disc jockey and humorist on WWL’s legendary up-all-night “The Road Gang" broadcast, Nemo continued through multiple changes in his formats, locations, and audiences. He transitioned from his early days of spinning records and generating laughs into a trusted voice for the industry. 

 Nemo’s radio roots extend all the way back to the end of the sixties. While still in his senior year at Loyola University of New Orleans in 1969, Nemo became the weekend host at WWL 870 AM. He continued in that position until October of 1970 when he joined the Army. The following year, he continued to hone his skills reading copy and playing music for AFKN in Seoul, South Korea, while stationed at the Yongsan Army/Air Force base. 

 Returning from the Army in 1972, Dave was rehired at WWL where he met broadcaster Charlie Douglas. Douglas had launched “The Road Gang” the previous year with the desire to use late-night programming as a way to reach and entertain truck drivers across America. With the addition of Nemo, the already celebrated show took off as Nemo brought his reverence of trucking music to couple with both his and Douglas’ love of country and rock-n-roll. 

 But it was with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 that “The Road Gang” gained its true cultural importance. Along with keeping drivers awake with comic bits and music, the show became an informational hub of trucking-focused news relaying diesel prices, safe areas for parking, and on more than one occasion, individual messages sent directly to drivers about loads, family emergencies, and even childbirth.

 1984 was the first big shift in “The Road Gang” programming. Just as the trucking industry began to deregulate, Douglas left the show he had helped create to join The Grand Ole Opry at WSM Radio in Nashville. Nemo assumed leadership of the program, and under his guidance, “The Road Gang” expanded its reach to five more stations, including broadcasts in Salt Lake City and Buffalo. This time was also the beginning of his ongoing approach of extensive travel to conferences, truck stops, and trucking shows with the purpose of connecting to the listeners in person.

 By the time the nineties rolled around, trucking was in the midst of a great upheaval. Regulation changes, mergers and acquisitions, and the implementation of the commercial driver’s license destabilized the industry. 

From 1991 to 2000, “The Road Gang” moved its services and programming into 11 different radio companies as right-wing talk shows and large radio conglomerates threatened the independent identity the show had forged. The biggest of these changes came in 1995 as business mogul Kerby Confer moved WWL to Nashville, rebranding it as WLAC. “The Road Gang” focused on both truck drivers and country music, and Confer believed the show would thrive in an atmosphere where many listeners and much of the music played called home. 

“The Road Gang'' was firmly ensconced in Nashville by 1998 when Nemo had a fortuitous encounter. It would change the trajectory of his fortunes and ultimately his position in the industry. Introduced to Dave by RoadKing Magazine editor Bill Hudgins, songwriters and entrepreneurs Michael and MaryKay Burns were interviewed by Nemo about their song “Christmas Comes on 18 Wheels” and the three immediately hit it off. The Burnses secured Nemo both musical content and guests for the show while deepening their friendship over this time.

Their arrival coincided with “The Road Gang” once again in transitional status. 

Soon after the meeting between Nemo and the Burnses, Clear Channel Communication acquired Nemo’s home company of AM/FM Inc, and with the popular Truckin Bozo already attached to Clear Channel, the broadcaster soon found himself with a large audience but nowhere to call home.  

 In 1999, The Burnses initiated the formation of Dave Nemo Entertainment and worked with Nemo to place the company on sound footing financially and programming-wise. Along with Dave’s wife Cheryl, the three would forge a partnership around a love of music, trucking, and radio that lasts to this very day.

 As the company entered the 2000’s, the show underwent rapid change driven by the same advances in technology that trucking experienced. That change would define Nemo’s program in its current form. Firm in his belief that “the future was yesterday,” Nemo, along with Michael Burns, saw the fledgling form of satellite radio as an opportunity to reach an audience that would never lose his signal and stay with him from coast to coast. Allowing their affiliate contracts to expire, Nemo made the permanent move to XM Radio.

Along with his partnership with the Burnses, Nemo considers his decision to move to satellite radio to be one of the most important of his life. 

 In 2008, XM merged with Sirius to become SiriusXM and switched Nemo’s programming from a music format to an informational one. In this moment, “The Dave Nemo Show” was born.

Moving forward, “The Dave Nemo Show” will continue with Nemo lending support not only to his trusted colleagues Jimmy Mac, Lindsay Lawler, and Tim Ridley, but also the many contributors who make the program the most comprehensive in trucking. The show can continue to be heard weekdays on SiriusXM Road Dog Trucking (channel 146) from 7 to 11 AM ET.