Teamster Advocates for Working Families
Rick Smith was a Teamster Roadway Express driver for 18 years. In all that time on the road, he listened to a lot of talk radio. View more photos here.
“With all the radio hosts beating up on unions and the labor movement, it seemed to me that I could do a lot with a show centered around unions and the good they do for families. I want to provide an alternative to the anti-union stuff that’s on the air,” Smith said.
And that’s exactly what he’s done.
Smith started The Rick Smith Show in 2005 when it launched on a small country and western station. It has grown progressively since then, attracting listeners tired of the usual right-wing talk-radio hate fest.
Now working families have a choice for their talk-radio news in The Rick Smith Show. Produced in Pennsylvania, it’s hosted, edited and produced all by Smith, a former Teamster. Smith began his Teamster career working in a warehouse as a member of Local 293. He was then an 18-year member of Local 229 while driving for Roadway Express.
Engaging Union Families
Smith’s pro-union outlook was fostered in his upbringing in Cleveland, where he worked paper routes and other odd jobs as a child trying to help feed his family. After high school, he started driving 18-wheelers as a proud union member.
He’s now a father of three and feels a calling to spread the word about the needs facing working families like his own.
“I love what I am doing and these are exciting times,” Smith said. “I am hoping this show will get people activated and engaged in their communities and states.”
Running alongside talk-radio formats that many are familiar with (Rush Limbaugh and others like him), The Rick Smith Show concentrates on the problems facing working families. Smith chooses his topics carefully, zeroing in on national issues as well as local concerns.
Smith highlights local and national issues by interviewing people who are personally affected by corporate greed, anti-union politicians and the tough economy.
He frequently hosts union leaders and rank-and-file members on his show, including many Teamsters. Over the past year, Smith has interviewed:
General President Jim Hoffa on the war on workers;
Bob Lennox, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 495 in Covina, Calif., on the situation at BMW, which ultimately resulted in the ratification of a Teamster contract;
Safeyyah Edwards and Phyllis Schoville, both members of Local 507 in Cleveland, about the Red Cross strike;
Ben Speight, Organizing Director of Local 728 in Atlanta, on the AT&T situation and the proposed anti-protesting bill;
Ken Wood, Acting President of Local 2011, and Captain Mike Riley on the Florida prison privatization threat;
Brian Buhle, International Vice President, on the “no rights at work” agenda in Indiana;
Dave Probst, a steward at Local 764 on the pipeline strike; and
David Laughton, President of Joint Council 10, on the New Hampshire Primary.
Picket Lines and Conferences
In order to keep his material fresh and promote real people’s stories on the air, Smith gets out of the studio and into labor activities as often as possible. He recently joined a Teamster strike line in Cleveland where more than 250 members of Local 507 are on strike against the American Red Cross.
Safeyyah Edwards, a longtime employee of Red Cross and a member of Local 507, told Smith during her interview, “Our contract expired in May of 2011, but Red Cross offered a health care plan which was too expensive for members to pay for and the company wants to keep increasing our hours with no breaks. We cannot and do not want to go back to work under the same conditions.”
Smith’s radio show is broadening its appeal and is being picked up by more radio stations. If the show isn’t available in your area now, you can take steps to bring it to your city. First, contact [email protected] and let them know about a community or commercial station in your area. They are looking for workers across the country to tell radio stations that you demand an alternative message to the ones being pushed by and for the mega-rich. As Smith says, “We need to demand a voice!”
Listen to The Rick Smith Show
If you live in Central Pennsylvania, you can listen on WIOO 97.9 FM in Harrisburg and 93.9 FM in Shippensburg from 9 p.m. to midnight. It is rebroadcast in Scranton/Wilkes Barre on WFTE 105.7 FM and 90.3 FM and in Williamsport on WXPI 88.5 FM from noon to 3 p.m.
If you don’t live in Central Pennsylvania, you can still check out Rick Smith on the Internet.
Visit www.therickshow.com and watch live streaming video from the studio. The program is also carried on the Head-On Radio Network, www.headonradionetwork.com, live from 9 p.m. to midnight and at alternate times throughout the day.
For information on how to listen to podcasts, visit www.therickshow.com.