Truck drivers today are fortunate to be part of a boom in media technology and content. The days of straining to hear a static-filled radio station that fades with each mile marker are over. Truckers now have a large selection of entertainment choices to make those long days behind the wheel more enjoyable.
Satellite Radio for Truckers
Satellite radio is the greatest invention for the trucking industry since the driver’s seat. Because of the proliferation of satellite radio among truckers and other groups, we now commonly refer to standard AM/FM radio as terrestrial radio.
Satellite radio receivers get a clear signal nationwide. This means you can listen to the same radio station from New Jersey to Oregon without static. Satellite radio does have some limitations in certain areas; for instance, driving under a bridge can very briefly interrupt the signal, and mountainous areas can be problematic. Even with these minor disturbances, satellite radio service is still vastly superior to terrestrial reception while traveling.
You may hear this service referred to as subscription radio because there is a monthly fee to receive the signal. Visit SiriusXM Satellite Radio online for information about packages, pricing, free trials and radio setup. Some trucking companies provide this radio service to their drivers as a benefit of employment. Subscription radio also outshines AM/FM by providing a large lineup of channels and content to please every ear. Think of it as cable TV for your radio. Most popular terrestrial radio hosts and shows also air on SiriusXM. Here are some of the offerings:
- Dozens of commercial-free music stations representing every genre.
- A dizzying array of sporting events that includes every National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball game played all year.
- Popular cable channel audio feeds such as CNN, CSPAN, NPR, FOX, BBC, Radio Disney and The Weather Channel
- Channels devoted just to truckers
- Old-time radio programs
- Family and religious programming
- Comedy channels that range from family-friendly to explicit
- Local traffic and weather for every major metropolitan area
- News, politics and financial information
- Tabloid shows and programs dealing with celebrity gossip, strange phenomena, conspiracy theories and more
Satellite radio is reasonably priced and well worth it for truckers, salespeople and others who earn their living on the road.
Television for Truck Drivers
People just out of truck driving school are sometimes leery about their new careers because they enjoy relaxing in the evening and watching television. They are afraid that truckers do not have access to TV on a daily basis. They need not be concerned.
Trucks have a TV shelf in the sleeper compartment and are wired to quickly connect to a digital television. Drivers must buy their own TVs. The TV is, of course, the trucker's property to keep and take along when changing jobs. Most sets come with a built-in DVD player, too.
Free digital television offers a larger selection of channels than most people might think. If you are in or near a metropolitan area, receiving 20 or more clear stations is common. The only downside to digital TV for truckers is that as you move from city to city, the TV needs to rescan to locate available stations in the area. This process usually takes between five and 10 minutes.
Although you may see trucks on the road with satellite dishes, these are usually owner-operated units. Most company drivers are not permitted to mount these dishes on their trucks. Internet-based movie and television show providers such as Netflix and Hulu Plus fill the gaps and allow truckers to buy a monthly subscription with access to thousands of movies and television shows. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can purchase one program at a time or watch selected programs and movies free with services such as Crackle.
Netflix is one of many services that enable you to download or stream content directly to your laptop, tablet, smartphone and, in some cases, your truck’s TV. Also, be sure to check with your cable service provider at home to see if its content is viewable nationwide on mobile devices. Many cable and satellite TV providers offer this type of service to their subscribers, including Comcast Xfinity, AT&T U-verse, Metrocast, DirecTV, and Dish. Visit their links to login to their online on-demand content.
If you use a tablet or laptop in addition to your smartphone while you are on the road, ask your phone’s service provider about getting a mobile hotspot that allows all of your devices to connect to the Internet for one fee. Do not use public Wi-Fi locations for banking or sending other sensitive information.
There are many different types of MP3 players on the market. The most well-known is Apple’s iPod. In combination with Apple's free software, iTunes, you can download movies, music, TV shows, games, apps and podcasts to listen to or view on your player or other devices at any time without an Internet connection.
If you are not familiar with podcasts, they are worth checking out. A podcast can be standalone, but more commonly, podcasts are released as a series of recorded audios and/or videos. They are produced by amateurs and multimedia giants alike and cover just about any subject you can imagine. Many are free to download or stream.
Podcasts cover such a large variety of subjects and niches that there is truly a show for everyone. Large providers such as the History Channel, Disney and ESPN offer free podcasts, but chances are that someone recording with a cheap microphone at home will offer content of interest to you, too.
MP3 players easily hook into your truck’s audio system with an adapter, so you can listen to your personalized content while driving. The best thing about these devices is that you can build your own massive library with only the music and shows you are interested in hearing.
Audiobooks are another great way to pass the time while driving. They are available for purchase from many sources, but Audible.com is the industry leader. Create an account and take advantage of the free trial. There are many sources to get free audiobooks, too. These works are mostly well-known classics in the public domain.
Many libraries across the nation are digitizing their collections and offering them free as rentals in MP3 and other formats. Maybe you love reading but just do not have the time. Audiobooks allow you to be a well-read person while earning money rolling down the highway.
Technology Keeping Truckers in Touch With Family and Friends
The rise of mobile devices and Internet applications allows drivers to stay in touch with family and friends like never before. For instance, posting on social media sites such as Facebook allows you to reach everyone in your network at one time with updates on how you are doing.
You can instantly share photos using your smartphone, allow people to track your movements across the country, write and publish a blog about your experiences and, of course, stay in touch through phone calls, emails and text messages.
Many people are set in their ways and distrustful of modern technologies. As a trucker, you are missing some wonderful and useful tools if you are not taking advantage of these new devices and applications. Maybe you are not computer-savvy and do not understand how all these things work. There is a learning curve, but you can always find knowledgeable people who will be happy to help you master using these technologies.
Ironically, anything you want to know about these different devices and apps is available online. If you are more of a classroom learner, there are many free programs that teach the use of technology is a simple way without overloading you. Most trucking companies are happy to assist their drivers in finding high-quality learning resources.
As technology continues to improve and embed itself in our everyday lives, being tech-savvy will be a prerequisite for truckers. Do not wait until that time. Start learning now, and you will be amazed at what can be accomplished today with just a cell phone. If you have some suggestions to add, please leave them in the comments below or on Facebook. We would love the feedback.