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OOIDA’s Sandi Soendker wins truck writers’ Lifetime Achievement Award

Sandi Soendker, shown here accepting the TWNA Lifetime Achievement Award, says she looks back on her early years at OOIDA and “wonders how the heck I made it.” The 40-year veteran of the news industry has been at Land Line Magazine since 1987. (Courtesy: PAUL HARTLEY/AddMedia)

The Trucker News Services

3/29/2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Sandi Soendker, editor-in-chief of Land Line Magazine, the official publication of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Truck Writers of North America (TWNA).

Soendker, who has been covering the trucking industry for 26 years, is the latest recipient of this award celebrating a person who exhibits the highest standard of journalism or communications within the trucking industry over a career.

The award was presented during the organization’s annual awards banquet March 21 during the Mid-America Trucking Show here.

“I am still bowled over by the recognition from TWNA, a peer group of friends and mentors,” Soendker told The Trucker. “It seems like just yesterday that I worked at a local newspaper and knew Todd Spencer (now OOIDA executive vice president) as the editor of Land Line. I wasn’t sure what his job was, but he was a trucker and a writer. That was 1987. Todd asked me if I wanted a job as a reporter and back-up typesetter, photographer, layout gal. I told him I knew absolutely nothing about heavy trucks. He said ‘fine, you’re hired.’”

With no knowledge of trucking, no resources, no Internet, no wire, no “pals” in the business, Soendker said she still thinks about those days and “wonder how the heck I made it. And I think, a Lifetime Achievement Award from TWNA? I can’t stop smiling.”

TWNA Executive Director Tom Kelley called Soendker’s dedication to the trucking industry “unparalleled.”

Based in Grain Valley, Mo., Land Line Magazine’s editorial policy encompasses informing truckers, the trucking industry and various government agencies about issues related to the industry.

A reporter/editor for more than 40 years, Soendker has worked for daily newspapers, small town weeklies and for horse magazines.

But it is at Land Line where she developed her passion for the industry and discovered the role advocacy journalism plays in trucking, Kelly said.

When interviewed for an article on What It Takes to Be a Good Reporter Soendker explained, “I am a cause-oriented person. I always have to have a cause, be fighting for the little dog, to right wrongs, expose bad people, to shine a light in dark places. Trucking is full of wrongs, unjust rules and regulations, overworked drivers and in general, ugliness.”

“Advocacy journalism in this industry is a niche that is custom-made for a person like me,” she continued. “Covering this industry from my unique corner office at OOIDA headquarters is like riding with the James Gang. You need a fast horse and ability to get in close, but not get shot.”

In addition to serving on the board of directors of OOIDA and the board of directors of the St. Christopher Trucker Development and Research Fund, Soendker is also a member of TWNA, Women In Trucking, Kansas City Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, Missouri Quarter Horse Association, and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Previous winners of the TWNA Lifetime Achievement Award include Rolf Lockwood, Don Alles, David A. Kolman, Tom Berg, Mike Pennington, Jim Winsor, Paul Abelson, RJ Taylor and Bob Deierlein.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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