Saturday, March 31, 2007

Columbia's Gene McKay: A Rich Life, Well-Lived, Shared With His Listeners

Take a moment to click on Doug Nye's great obit, a moving reminder of why we do what we in radio do (be sure to listen to the audio clip too): For more than four decades, Gene McKay’s quick wit and satirical commentary entertained thousands of radio listeners across the Midlands.

But McKay, whose real last name was Klemick, could get serious when talking about America or commenting on music or just the everyday wonders and problems of life. It was a mix that connected with his audience.
This weekend, those listeners and his colleagues are mourning the loss of McKay, 73, who died Thursday morning. He had suffered a heart attack two days after having back surgery March 12.

The FCC Says Sirius And XM Do Not Compete With Terrestrial Radio

Ron Chase at Radio OnLine's headline at first made me spit out my coffee.. until I read NAB President David Rehr's reaction quote:
"This FCC decision that the current duopoly of XM and Sirius do not compete with radio, iPods or any other audio sources in the satellite radio market further undermines the arguments made by XM and Sirius to obtain a government-sanctioned monopoly. While the FCC clearly intends to examine all issues surrounding the XM/Sirius merger, the hurdle the parties must overcome to convince the FCC to change direction is very high. This is a dramatic blow to XM/Sirius' presumption of a broader market, and still more evidence that XM and Sirius compete ferociously against each other in the market for nationwide multichannel mobile audio services, and no one else."

Average US Household Watches 15.7 TV Channels a Week

According to a new report from NeilsenMedia, The number of television channels that the average U.S. home receives has reached a record high of 104.2 TV channels, an increase of almost eight channels since 2005. In 2006, the average household tuned to 15.7, or 15.1% of the 104.2 channels available for at least 10 minutes per week.

Meanwhile, Arbitron consistently reports that the average person listens to between three (diaries) and seven (People Meters) radio stations in an average week. A big loyalty win, as I read it, for RADIO!

A&O Is Behind (And Literally In Front Of..) The CMHOF

Comments from the more than 100 attendees to our annual 2007 Pre-CRS client seminar at the Country Music Hall Of Fame were extremely positive .. both about our presentations and the meeting facilities at the Hall. This place is not only worthy of a visit next time you are in Music City, but it's worthy of radio's full support. Contact Brandi Harris Vanantwerp at 615-416-2075. (Pictured, l to r: Our wise and all-knowing tour guide, JRN people including ACM national personality of the year nominee Danny Wright, Jaye Albright and Michael O'Malley)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Easter Spending Expected To Reach $14 billion

After a long, cold winter for most of the country, consumers are eager to celebrate Easter with their family and friends, according to NRF’s 2007 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. This year, shoppers who are planning to celebrate Easter (79.5%) are expected to spend an average of $135.07, up 11 percent from last year’s $121.72 per person. Total holiday spending is estimated to reach $14.37 billion*.

Spending is expected to increase across the board, with the average shopper planning to invest the most on a new spring outfit ($26.03) and food for their Easter meal ($37.56). Other popular Easter purchases include candy ($18.53), gifts ($20.61), flowers ($9.63) and decorations ($7.63).

“Easter is a critical time for apparel retailers,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers will be looking to the warmer weather to help stimulate the sale of spring apparel.”
With Easter coming relatively early this year, retailers have already begun stocking their shelves in anticipation of the big day. Department stores will be a popular shopping destination this year, (36.8% vs. 30.0% last year). Other popular locations for Easter shopping include specialty clothing stores (6.7%), specialty stores (23.7%), online (12.7%) and catalog (5.6%). Although discount stores will see the most traffic, they won’t see as much as last year (57.2 vs. 59.6%).

Shoppers between the ages of 25-34 will spend the most per person this year ($147.47). Coming in second is the 45-54 age group ($144.13), followed by 35-44 year olds ($139.36) and 18-24 year olds ($137.30).

Tuesday, Tim "Let's It Go" (On Sale)

Tim McGraw’s new studio album “Let It Go, first single "Last Dollar," serving as the ambassadorial first smash hit, is in stores TOMORROW.

With almost three years between albums, McGraw went back into the studio with his Dancehall Doctors band for the third time and once again Tim is looking forward to sharing the new music with his fans.
“I feel like we are really hitting a stride between the band, Byron and myself,” McGraw told scribe Neil Naislop.

Among the tracks contained on the album is the duet “I Need You” with Faith Hill that has been the show closer on the record breaking Soul 2 Soul II Tour. Also on the album Tim's rendition of Eddie Rabbit's "Suspicions,", plus a tune called the most traditional, and FAITH joins him on another tune called "Shotgun Rider".

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The ONLY Artists You Should Play Once An Hour

And, maybe once every TWO hours...

The number one complaint from listeners: country radio plays the same artists over and over. Here are the 18 (Flatts and Chesney made both lists) which probably do deserve extra heavy play, according to your listener. If you have your artist protections set at an hour and five minutes for every artist in your library, it's time to rethink that "we've always done it that way" plan based on this new data, don't you think?

The "Edison Research Country Music Awards"

The CMA has been handing out awards for 40 years. 2007 will be the ACM's 41st. It's also the third year for the CRS Edison Research 'awards' too.. and even more meaningful, these "awards" come from folks who don't give out trophies, just their time, listening to country music radio (see above!).

WMXG-FM, Escanaba, Makes Me Proud To Be In Radio

"When I learned about Josh's situation, it just got to me," station general manager Mike Dubord said. "I said, 'Sure, bring him on down.'"
Click to read: "Radio job gives disabled writer new hope for life" and grab a bit of inspiration!

Wonderful Life Advice From "A Singing Stick" To Her Hometown Newspaper

"My motto is: Everything in moderation, including moderation. If the music isn't right, you can always kind of mess with that. But if the lyrics aren't there, there's not a whole lot you can do. Songs are like mini movies to me. You tell a story that you can put yourself in as a character in that mini movie for three and a half minutes."
- Trisha Yearwood, in a very revealing "in her own words" interview (which is well worth a click to read the whole thing) with writer Joe Kovac Jr.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tim McGraw's "Next 30 Years"

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announce their new concert tour during a news conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn. The tour starts June 6 in Omaha, Neb., and is rumoured to have a Maritime stop in late summer. (John Russell / AP)

AP's John Germone has a nice update on the McGraw family this weekend:
...for the first time, he released a song he co-wrote, My Little Girl, a gentle piece from the soundtrack to his last movie, Flicka. On the new album, he co-wrote one track, the grinding rocker Train 10. McGraw said he writes plenty of songs, but doesn’t like most of them enough to record. "Every now and then something comes up that I co-wrote that I really like," he said. "I think the older I get as an artist, there are more avenues I want to explore."

Mercury & MCA Artist News

A line in the current Top 15 Gary Allan single, "A Feelin' Like That" references skydiving, which Gary has actually done - but just once. He says, "Skydiving is something that somebody took me to do for my birthday for a few years back. I did a tandem jump where someone is strapped to your back. That was pretty cool. It was 40 seconds of rush and I don't think I ever need to do that again!"

George Strait's 25th annual Team Roping Classic is going on this Friday and Saturday, March 23rd & 24th at the San Antonio Rose Palace in San Antonio, Texas.

Vince Gill is back out on the road with his 15 piece band in support of his 4-cd set, These Days, and he told The Tennessean that he gets to channel a little bit of everyone during the 3 plus hour set that showcases the various musical styles represented on These Days: "I feel like I get to be George Jones for a tune or two, and I get to be Elvis for a couple tunes. I get to be Tony Bennett for a tune or two and Bill Monroe for a few tunes. People walk away going 'I don't know what it was, but it sure is different.'" Vince will play shows in Nashville at the Ryman on April 4th and 5th. For a complete list of tour dates, visit

Billy Currington will sing the national anthem prior to the sold-out Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 25.This will be Currington’s first trip to the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, where he’ll sing in front of nearly 160,000 fans. “I am excited to be part of the tradition at Bristol Motor Speedway and share in the excitement of a live NASCAR event,” says Currington. “I have played in front of thousands of people before, but this is a very different experience that I am looking forward to.” The Food City 500 takes the green flag at 2 p.m.

Bon Jovi has put the finishing touches on their newest album, titled Lost Highway, which lands in stores on June 19 on Island Records/Mercury Nashville. The project was produced by Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts) and John Shanks. The first single from the project “(You Want To) Make A Memory,” was serviced to radio on Tuesday, March 20th. Bon Jovi is scheduled for live performances of “(You Want To) Make A Memory” on the upcoming 6th annual CMT Awards broadcast (April 16th live from Nashville); on Fox’s “American Idol” (May 2nd); and on NBC’s “Today Show” Outdoor Plaza (June 19th). Mean­while, Bon Jovi-watchers have already discovered the album’s title song, “Lost Highway” in the new box office smash film, Wild Hogs. Another album track, “We Got It Going On,” a duet with Big & Rich, is the theme song for the new Arena Football League season on ESPN.

Julie Roberts will perform at the19th Gstaad Festival, joining Rhonda Vincent, Riders in the Sky and Randy Travis. The festival will be held in Gstaad, Switzerland on September 21st and 22nd.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

RIP (...if it was ever actually alive as a radio format)

Many are those who have tried and failed to find a place on country music radio for over the last decade. I don't know of a single ratings success for programming in spite of attempts from Los Angeles (rip KZLA too..) to numerous Texas markets where otherwise top-rated country stations have experimented with weekend daypart specials and seen ratings tank.

No doubt, great regional acts like Kevin Fowler, Robert Earl Keen, Cross Canadian Ragweed and many others fill Texas road houses and night clubs every night of the week. But, it doesn't seem like the kind of people who love them live and in performance have much time to listen to even their most commercial country singles on the radio.

Now, it may even be time to say that the genre is fading. Browse through the list of the SXSW top picks from this year's Austin event which was actually designed as a showcase for in its beginnings and you won't find an artist or band listed by even the music critics from around the world who in the past have seemingly disdained country music for its mass appeal and popularity, then fawned over the country musicians at past events as the next big thing.

This year, it was all about rock. At a time when the rock radio format is losing shares.

SXSW = a place where bands who can't find an audience anywhere else go before they die?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Getting Listsners To Remember (And Write Down) How Long They Listen

KUSS, San Diego's Tony & Kris call their insider's loyalty club "TK+1" and invite members to say on the air "I listen to Tony & Kris 35 hours a week."
WPOC, Baltimore, can top that... with their "full time listener rewards," for listeners to say they listen for 40 hours a week. (note also what they have branded their HD side channel as a defensive tactic, to prevent anyone else in town to launch a "Wolf!")

What are YOU doing that seems to be working for you?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March "What's Hot, What's Not"

There may be many consumers willing to go green in March: hybrid autos are what’s hot this month, according to 63.5%. 24 and Ellen DeGeneres follow. March Madness scores particularly well among the men, while women might rather attend a destination wedding.

Not Hot? 80% of consumers hope the nautical look for women’s clothing gets lost at sea.

- Consumer confidence down 6 points from February
- Practicality in purchasing remains steady
- Employment outlook dims in March
- Fewer than a third feel they are adequately saving for future
- Who’s researching products online?
- Is the customer rollback continuing for Wal-Mart?
- CMI: Linens/Bedding/Draperies
- Purchase intentions for autos on the rise

Jack Meyers Discovers "Nashville Star"

His blog and website are full of informative viewpoints and data on the directions media is moving, but when he takes note of a country music TV show's low ratings and level of awareness, I have to take note of THAT..
American Idol no longer simply makes stars. It makes history. I wish the same could be said for Nashville Star, the live country music version of American Idol on USA Network. Given the current surge in the popularity of country music I am surprised Star hasn't become a hotter show.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Think Attitude, Not Age

"...age is not a concept relevant to understanding baby boomers. Indeed, the active rejection of a traditional concept of aging is more reflective of what motivates boomers. The nullification of anything strictly tied to age typifies boomers. This is reflective of an underlying sense of youthfulness that has long been the defining generational essence of boomers. But age nullification is not about reverting to adolescence. Rather, it's about refusing to let age and its restrictive stereotypes hold back or repress a spirited, continually evolving approach to life. Age nullification means a felt sense of permission to do anything one is interested in and capable of without worrying about age appropriateness. Age is not a barrier that defines or restricts alternatives. Age is not a source of embarrassment. Age is simply not relevant. Boomers just take it for granted that age doesn't apply."

-- J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich, Inc.

Email: Send It And Pray

.. and some people say RADIO isn't accountable enough! Email has clearly evolved into being the pivot point for online communication and commerce, but a recently reported study by the Deliverability Roundtable of the Email Experience Council found that email metrics and bounce management have not kept pace with email's evolution. 321 Mailers and 29 ESPs, representing a cross-section of both groups, showed that the lack of standards around industry metrics, bounce data, definitions and bounce management practices resulted in the inability of Mailers and ESPs to properly execute, measure and compare results on their programs.

The study says that, while four-fifths of ESPs calculate "delivered" by deducting all failures from total mailed, the remaining one-fifth calculate it by deducting only hard bounces from total mailed. Consensus for Mailers is even less pronounced. Two-thirds of Mailers expressed uncertainty as to how delivery was calculated, or just guessed. Methodologies for calculating open and click rates were even more convoluted and inconsistent.

In addition, the surveys revealed considerable confusion around one of the key processes effecting deliverability - bounce management. There's widespread industry disagreement on how bounces should be defined and treated, and an acute lack of visibility into specific bounce reasons. The surveys also highlight a problem with inconsistent bounce data being provided by ISPs.

Collectively, concludes the report, these issues pose a significant, bottom line risk to email marketers who are unable to adequately measure their results, clean their lists, improve their practices and safeguard their reputations because of inconsistent metrics and unreliable or inadequate data.

Email is the only direct marketing channel that lacks a standardized set of metrics, says the Whitepaper summarizing the survey.

Public Relations News & Tips

Speak Slowly and Carry a Big Stick (click to read the article)
These days, most contact between the media and sources takes place over the phone. Here are ten simple rules that can help you refine your phone skills, keep you from being misquoted and maybe even have you coming off sounding smart.

-- Ben Silverman

Monday, March 12, 2007

TK Plans To Do A Movie Every Two Years

Toby Keith's debut film "Broken Bridges" has been such a positive experience for him that he's planning on acting in films often.
"I'm going to try to do a movie every other year," Toby says matter of factly. 'It's about all I can do, unless something comes along that's great that I don't have that much to do with somebody else's movie maybe spend a month playing a great part, I'd do that. But, to have the lead role, have a whole movie wrapped around what I do, I can only do about every other year. It's real time consuming, a lot more than people want to believe it is. Even if you're only shooting for 6 or 8 weeks, the prep time for it and all the media and the soundtrack and all that stuff we get involved in a Show Dog, its really time consuming. I'm working on a script right now called, "Beer For My Horses," I'm going to do a full motion picture on it. I just got get off my lazy butt and finish the script."
-- Neil Haislop

LSU Student Logan Donaldson Decries Labeling Of All Music

Want to understand how Millenials feel about music? Here's a clue from Louisana State University's Daily Reville:
Country music .. falls victim to blanket opinion. Its supposed commonplace attributes seem to involve slushy love ballads, songs that aggrandize a dog or truck (any element of southern living, really) or the countless tunes that try and convince its audience that the singer is just a down to earth person like you or me. One name that seems to rise above complaints of country music is Johnny Cash. How can you not love the man in black? His songs of rebellion and mischief, coupled with his unique, wobbly voice, garner attention from fans of any genre.

Loretta Lynn honored by Berklee College of Music

In 2003, she received the prestegious "Kennedy Center Honors." She won a Grammy for singing with the White Stripes. What could possibly be next? Well, now, the coal miner’s daughter, is getting an honorary doctorate from Boston’s Berklee College of Music!

Saturday, March 10, 2007 RCS Wins Me Over

I've seen the ads for Clear Channel-Radio Computing Service's new web resource for news people, but had thought it would be just a sales pitch for software or equipment, so I had been slow to click there. OOPS! Former RCS PR director/Marketing Director/trainer Tom Zarecki's great article in the March '07 issue of RBR's Smart Media on 'dream equipment for the perfect newsroom' finally got me clicking (and very impressed). links to major news radio station sites, 50 major newspapers, local gas prices, writing tools, news consultant tips, confusing words, news writing forum and more.

Most of us check Matt Drudge's stuff each morning, but did you know that his dad Bob Drudge has been running a useful reference site for many years too?

Ya learn something every day (if you watch for Zarecki's byline in trade media and add these to your bookmarked favorites!)..

How To Make People Like You: Talk In Color

A former fashion and advertising photographer of international renown, Nick Boothman became aware that his work for clients such as AT&T and Revlon depended on establishing instant rapport with his subjects. Determined to look deeper into the ways that people connect with each other, he put his cameras aside and earned a license as a practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP):
All conversation, big or small, is about painting word pictures of your experiences for other people. The more vividly you can convey these experiences, the more interesting people will find you.

Selling The Analog Assets, Trying To Keep The Digital Ones

In Toronto this weekend for the annual (great!) Canadian Music Week convention gave me a front row seat on an amazing development: when Canadian radio giant Standard Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. announced last month that it was negotiating a sale to Astral Media Inc., Standard chief executive officer Gary Slaight cautioned there was still much talking to be done. He didn't go into detail, but those close to the deal suggested the inclusion of Standard's Internet radio operation, Iceberg Radio, was among the points still being discussed. The fact that Iceberg would play a key role in the talks should come as no surprise: Standard's on-line music operation is the largest of its kind in Canada.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mark Ramsey Interviews Author Ben McConnell

"A citizen marketer is a person who creates content or media on behalf of a company or a brand, radio station, product, organization or even another person."

Ramsey: What do you say to a broadcaster who says all this is nice, but we have to make financial goals this quarter and not worry about stuff like this that could create a distraction in the short run?

McConnell: Well, I think you take small steps. Social media is a tsunami that is washing across the cultural landscape of everyone in America and across the world. Stations will either have to adjust their structures to insulate themselves against this social media onslaught and actually take action to become participants in it, otherwise the water will begin to slowly rust away the underpinning of the broadcaster's revenue model.

He calls today's emerging audience "the participation generation." Listen to the entire interview and get busy involving them in your station's content creation.

Ben McConnell is co-author of Creating Customer Evangelists, one of the books which kick-started the word-of-mouth marketing craze. He and his partner Jackie Huba have just penned a new book, Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message.

John Hines' Gutsy Move

.. lots of coverage in the Twin Cities' newspapers:

John Hines moving from country to talk radio

Country radio mainstay moves to conservative talker

Country radio stations undergo big changes

He'll be terrific. Heck, I remember when he moved from rock radio to country and everyone was also initially surpised by THAT (15 years ago!). John is a very smart broadcaster. I know he'll do well at anything he decides to do.

Another Good Source (Or Two!) For Country Music Daly News

David's site is also a great lesson in how to use the net for maximum efficiency in making money as well. He uses RSS feeds from Neil Haislop's daily updates, like: Martina McBride Self-Produces Again, Phil Vassar Signs With Universal Records South and George Strait Leads ACM Nominations.

Want gossip and tabloid news? Every now and then Country Nation comes up with things no one else seems to have.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Respected Friend With Some Advice: Radio Is Becoming RadiADo

Marketing guru Al Ries has always been a powerful advocate for radio, so when he talks I listen. He's saying a mouthful in his latest Ad Age column:
" the top of the hour, I turn off my radio and don't turn it back on until 8 minutes after the hour. Why? Because that's radio's black hole. Eight solid minutes of commercials, traffic, weather, news and more commercials. The second black hole occurs at the bottom of the hour, but it's not quite as bad. I turn off my radio for only 6 minutes."
Obviously, Al is not a music FM listener, or he would have said the same thing about the black holes at :20, :35 and :50..
We all know it's a problem. When are we going to deal with it? Before it's too late?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rosin: "Country Needs To "Court" Hispanic Listeners." Ramsey Worries We'll Go Fishing In Cold Zip Codes

Mark Ramsey, president of hear 2.0, the audio entertainment strategy company, and Mercury Radio Research makes a good point in his blog in the event you weren't AT Edison Research chief Larry Rosin's actual presentation Thursday in Nashville and all you know about it is what has been reprinted from the press release:

"Sometimes certain natural groups of listeners gravitate to what they gravitate to. And your job is to be in the right place with the right format. Not to seduce a round peg into a square hole. Remember, sometimes tailoring your round hole to a square peg means even the round pegs stop fitting. Our job as marketers and programmers isn't to sell ethnic audiences on Country radio, it's to find out what audiences want and deliver it to them, no matter what it is."

.. however, those of us who did hear Larry in person know that he would not disagree with Mark at all. In fact, his recommendations on what country radio stations could do to attract Hispanics are things we all need to do whether we want more ethnic listeners on not: engage them, invite them, make them feel welcome.
Rosin put it this way:
"Whether you want a McDonald's burger or not right now, there is no question from their marketing that McDonalds wants you to know they want you to have one right now. Do potential listeners of your station - Hispanic or not - know that about you?"

Who Controls Country Playlists? It Emerges As A Bigger Issue Than Whether To Play The Dixie Chicks

Edison Research's Tom Webster offers an enticing tease to check out both his blog and also Edison's website on Monday afternoon, when the full research reports on this project as well as the Hispanic listeners study too:
"One of the interesting things we have tracked all three years is Americans’ attitude about the Dixie Chicks. This year, we registered no significant change in the political leanings of Country listeners. The only slight change from last year was a 2% shift from moderate to very conservative (which was 11% last year,) but the other numbers remain unchanged. What did change--markedly--was the opinion of the Country partisans we surveyed on whether or not the Dixie Chicks should continue to be played on Country radio. With political affiliations stable year over year, I was surprised to see as much movement in this stat as we did. By now if you are in the business of Country radio you have had to deal with this issue, and maybe you are thinking there is nothing new here. There is something very new here, however. This year, we probed a little deeper--not into opinions on the Chicks, but into Country partisans' opinions on playlists--and who controls them. The results are important, and must not be overlooked as Country radio begins what looks to be another great year."

New Year’s Resolutions Reflected in January U.S. Web Traffic

Is This The End Of Internet Radio? Not For Terrestial Radio, But Perhaps For Others.

Daniel McSwain reports that the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has announced its decision on Internet radio royalty rates, rejecting all of the arguments made by Webcasters and instead adopting the "per play" rate proposal put forth by SoundExchange(a digital music fee collection body created by the RIAA).

The rates that the Board has decided on, effective retroactively through the beginning of 2006 are as follows:

2006 - $.0008 per play
2007 - $.0011 per play
2008 - $.0014 per play
2009 - $.0018 per play
2010 - $.0019 per play

The minimum fee is $500 per channel per year. There is no clear definition of what a 'channel' is for services that make up individualized playlists for listeners.

How does this affect medium-size webcasters?
Radio Paradise's Bill Goldsmith notes, "This royalty structure would wipe out an entire class of business: Small independent webcasters such as myself & my wife, who operate Radio Paradise. Our obligation under this rate structure would be equal to over 125% of our total income. There is no practical way for us to increase our income so dramatically as to render that affordable." And Radio Paradise is perhaps the most-successful webcaster in its class! For most operators, this rate looks as if it would be >150-200% of total revenues.

How does this affect small webcasters?
Webcasters who stream through services like Live365 may be in jeopardy, as such firms' business models probably never envisioned a royalty rate this high. (Live365's royalty obligation for 2006 is running in the range of $350,000 per month, and that's not even addressing the question of the $500 per station mininum!)

How does this affect terrestrial broadcasters who stream?
The principles are the exactly same, but at the individual radio station level, the dollar amounts are of course are smaller. Clear Channel's total corporate obligation for November 2006 based on comScore Arbitron ratings and assuming 13 songs per hour, would be about $500,000... but if that's for streaming, let's say, 500 stations, it would only be a royalty obligation of about $1,000 per station per month in 2006. Are those stations selling enough online spots and website banners and sponsorships to make that affordable? I'm not sure. (The decision has no impact on news and talk stations who stream.)

Thursday Night May Have Been The Most Amazing Performance Night In Music City History

There was the multi-million dollar roster of the Sony-BMG labels on board the General Jackson, and that was just the opening act for Bon Jovi, Keith Urban (who played for TWO HOURS) and Big & Rich's whole crew! It you were in Nashville and slept through that, you missed an incredible night! As anyone who heard my larengitis on Friday knows, I stayed up too late and had too much fun! Hopefully, you did too!

Smile, Sugarland, You're On CMT

Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush beamed as Music Row snapped a photo of them accepting Platinum plaques for Enjoy The Ride and celebrating the No. 1 single "Want To" at CMT's studios.

CRS - Nashville Newspaper Coverage Was Plentiful

Label execs traded barbs, Bucky Covington was just one of hundreds of country wannabes gladhanding and Rodney Atkins was basking in the glow of a great year. Click for links to these stories.

Jimmy DeCastro Thinks Bill Curtis Is The Next Paul Harvey

Who do you like in this new horse race? Fred Thompson? Or, based in Harvey's hometown of Chicago, DeCastro's new entry?

I still hope ABC can eventually convince Paul Jr., to do it, but the more thoroughbreds - and that certainly describes BOTH Senator Fred and Bill Curtis - in this race, in the meantime, the better!

AP's John Gerome: "Country music's big-city revival has industry upbeat"

It's all worth printing out and adding to your sales kit, but I especially love new LA country station owner Saul Levine's quote in the piece:
"I see it as a very sophisticated market for country listeners," Levine said. "It's not pickup trucks with a rifle in the back. More likely they're driving a Lexus or BMW or Mercedes."