America's Truckin' Network has returned to WLW-AM as a one-hour recorded show two months after the station dropped the live overnight show hosted by Steve Sommers.
Eric "Bubba Bo" Boulanger, a former ATN weekend host, does the midnight-1 a.m. show with Ed "Mr. Motorkote" Gibbs of MotorKote engine lubricants, a longtime ATN sponsor. Gibbs, a regular ATN guest for 15 years, was popular for asking trivia questions and riddles to listeners.
Sponsors and listeners asked WLW-AM to revive the show, Gibbs tells me.
"A lot of people wanted it back. They advertisers wanted it back. They (WLW-AM managers) called Bubba Bo, but he said he wouldn't do it without 'Mr. MotorKote,' " says Gibbs, marketing vice president of Into Great Brands Inc., the suburban Columbus company which makes MotorKote engine lubricants.
The show is recorded because Boulanger has hosted mornings on Lawrenceburg's WSCH-FM, "Eagle Country 99.3" from 5-11 a.m. weekdays since 2005. ATN is only an hour – for now – to fill the gap between Gary Jeff Walker's 9 p.m.-midnight show and the nationally syndicated 1-6 a.m. Red Eye Radio show from WBAP-AM in Dallas.
WLW-AM has aired Red Eye Radio since late December. It replaced a local overnight show hosted by Dan Carroll, a former WCPO-TV helicopter traffic reporter and WXIX-TV news anchor who has filled in on WLW-AM talk shows.
Boulanger explained early Tuesday on WLW-AM that ATN was revived as a one-hour truckers' news show at midnight, and not a five-hour show. He took no callers, because the program was recorded late Monday afternoon.
Boulanger read trucking news and weather. Gibbs read "Today in History," celebrity birthdays and a trivia question for listeners to answer after 1 a.m., when the show ended. The winner will be announced on the next day's show, he said. That person receives a 50% discount on any MotorKote products.
After WLW-AM dropped ATN, MotorKote pulled its advertising from WLW-AM on Nov. 9, ending a 15-year relationship with the station.
Gibbs says the new ATN could go live – and expand to multiple hours – later this year. WLW-AM General Manager D.J. Hodge, Operations Director Scott Reinhart, and Boulanger have not responded to my requests for comments about the new ATN.
Gibbs says he's "still getting calls" from fans who miss the five-hour live ATN. His trivia and riddle segments with Sommers would light up all of the studio phone lines, he says. Gibbs also has done regular segments on Detroit's WJR-AM, Nashville's WSM-AM and Red Eye Radio for MotorKote, based in Gahanna, Ohio.
Boulanger, who came to Cincinnati to do sports on WCKY-AM, is best known as Jim Fox's morning sidekick on WUBE-FM until Fox was fired in 2000 for soliciting a minor in Xenia. Boulanger has worked at Eagle Country since 2005. Boulanger's Eagle Country bio describes him as a 25-year Tri-State radio veteran and a four-time nominee for the County Music Association's large market Personality of the Year.
America's Truckin' Network grew out of WLW-AM's Midwest overnight truckers' show started in 1984 by Dale "Truckin' Bozo" Sommers, Steve's father. Steve started working with his dad in 1996, and took over the show in 2004. It aired seven nights a week at midnight, even after Bill Cunningham premiered his nationally syndicated Sunday 10 p.m.-1 a.m. talk show in 2007. The ATN pre-empted the last hour of Cunningham's national show, on his flagship station, for 13 years until WLW-AM canceled Sommers' show in November.
WLW's revived ATN competes with the first hour of the new Steve Sommers Overnight Drive show, which started Jan. 11 on YouTube and Facebook Live.
WLW-AM managers have never explained why Carroll's local overnight show was discontinued after about seven weeks. Carroll devoted most of his shows to supporting President Trump's unsubstantiated "Stop the Steal" claims of massive voter fraud. Carroll often cited information on Gateway Pundit and other far-right websites.