Hardware, soft sell and a little self-reflection helped attendees at the 49th annual Country Radio Seminar kick off the three-day event on Feb. 5 at the Omni Nashville Hotel.
Dierks Bentley and Falls Media Group/Wichita Falls-Dallas owner Dan Halyburton claimed their previously announced humanitarian trophies, late Curtis Media/Raleigh, N.C., vp programming Lisa McKay led a newly unveiled class of Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees, several charity groups pitched programmers for their support, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry offered a mea culpa for an affair while vowing to use the principles espoused in country songs to regain the public’s trust.
McKay’s Hall announcement, delivered by Cassadee Pope, came three weeks after her Jan. 14 death from cancer, adding a dramatic storyline to 2018’s class, which will be officially inducted in June. McKay will be joined by former WIVK Knoxville, Tenn., personalities Andy Ritchie and Alison Mencer; KKNU Eugene, Ore., talent Bill Barrett, Tim Fox and Tracy Berry; former KPLX Dallas-Fort Worth and WXTU Philadelphia team Steve Harmon and Scott Evans; and Albright, O’Malley & Brenner partner Mike O’Malley.
While the Hall appointments represent vocational achievement, the humanitarian awards celebrate efforts to use celebrity and position for greater purposes.
Halyburton, who worked on three hurricane-relief efforts in 2017 for the American Red Cross, said he’s rewarded by the “hope, recovery and strength” he sees in the victims that the Red Cross assists.
Bentley, citing Thomas Rhett‘s “Star of the Show,” deflected credit for his accomplishments with children’s hospitals and military veterans, saying that the strength and reaction of the beneficiaries of humanitarian programs make them the centerpiece of the work.
Representatives with the Sarah Cannon Band Against Cancer campaign, the Children’s Miracle Network and Disabled American Veterans all asked for country radio’s attention, demonstrating that a little assistance in messaging from broadcasters is a huge aid for the determined members of their communities who need a hand.
Meanwhile, Barry pointed to how the messaging of country radio mirrored her own life. She coupled the recent revelation of her affair with a member of her security team with the death of her son from an opioid overdose in 2017, promising to rebound from a valley in her emotional life. Barry indicated that she wears three bracelets every day that carry personal symbolism of “loss, grit, blessings, perseverance and hope.”
“That’s what your listeners hear when they hear great country music,” she said.
Cam got the proceedings underway with a crystalline version of the national anthem, setting the stage for three days of education as programmers find new ways of funneling the messages in country back to their hometowns.