Bobby Karl Works The DJ Hall of Fame Dinner, Aldean Party

(L-R) back: Bill Payne, Charlie Cook, Joe Galante, Naomi Judd, Barry Kent, Dale Carter and Lee Rogers. Front: CRB board member RJ Curtis; Samantha, Hayleigh and Elizabeth Hallam; CRB Pres. Mike Culotta and CRB Exec. Dir. Bill Mayne.

Chapter 360

The “official” kick-off of Country Radio Seminar is the annual presentation of the Country Radio Hall of Fame honors at the Convention Center (3/1).

To start things off, the attending living members of the Hall gathered on stage for a massed portrait. Then Mike Culotta gave the President’s Award to Joe Galante. “Joe epitomizes the criteria set forth for this award,” said Mike. “This barely scratches the surface of the gratitude this organization has for this man.”

“I think this award was given to me because, ‘This guy isn’t going to be calling for adds anymore,’” Joe wisecracked. Turning serious, he added, “Everything I have accomplished, I have accomplished because I was surrounded by great people.”

The 2011 Artist Achievement Award was presented to The Judds. “I was 38 years old when we walked into RCA on March 4, 1983,” recalled Naomi Judd. “We were two scared kids.

“Our whole life has really been about friendships, relationships with you characters. Wynonna thinks you are her uncles. She’s grown up with you. I’m just overflowing with gratitude.”

“I’ve known just about everybody in this room since I was 18 years old,” confirmed Wynonna Judd. “One of my goals this year is to get back on country radio. I have come back home. God has orchestrated this. I am ready. This is only the beginning for me. I look at you, and I feel like you are family.”

Mike Borchetta inducted Bill Payne into the Radio Hall of Fame. “I’m humbled,” said Payne. “I’m grateful to God. Today is a fulfillment of my dream.” He has spent his career owning various stations in Oklahoma.

Bobby Kraig inducted Barry Kent as an on-air personality. “I have worked my entire career in my hometown, which is pretty unheard of,” stated Kent, who is still on the air in Terre Haute, Indiana at age 71. “I’m truly blessed to go to work every day and do what I love to do.”

CRB executive director Bill Mayne did the honors for Lee Rogers, who was also inducted as an on-air personality. “Lee Rogers lives life large – he always has and always will,” said Mayne.

“They don’t usually honor you with things like this until you’re dead,” Rogers responded. He suffered two strokes in 2008. “I learned in that instant to never take anything for granted in this life.”

Rogers was the only inductee to salute country music’s artists. Perhaps not coincidentally, he was also the only one who was a musical performer, himself. He has shared stages with Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Don Gibson, Keith Whitley, Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam and Charlie Daniels, among others

“I never thought I would be at a loss for words,” Rogers continued. He wasn’t. Nor was anybody else that night. We are, after all, talking about radio people. “Believe in yourself,” he concluded. “Believe in God. And don’t give up until the competition across the street gets fired on Christmas Eve!” Then he tossed his cane aside.

Joel Rabb inducted the late Dene Hallam. “I still ‘talk’ to Dene,” Rabb said. “We have ‘conversations.’ He had great ears.” Hallam’s three daughters accepted.

“Wow, what a night,” said Jaye Albright. She introduced the Hall’s youngest inductee in its history, Dale Carter. “It’s my hope that one day, our plaques will be at the Country Music Hall of Fame,” stated Carter. Good luck with that.

Lon Helton inducted the widely loved Charlie Cook. “Charlie Cook was destined for this Hall,” said Helton. “All you have to do is look around this room. His mark upon this business is going to last for a long time.”

“I want to thank Chuck Chellman, who was the father of all of this,” said Cook. “No one has less talent in this Hall of Fame than I do, so I must have a guardian angel.”

Working the room were The Doobie Brothers, Radney Foster, John Cowan, Josh Thompson, Jack Lameier, Eddie Mascolo, Tom Baldrica, Charlie Monk, Mike Dungan, Ron Huntsman, Allen Butler, Bob Kingsley, Bob Paxman, Coyote McCloud, Deborah Evans Price, Vernell Hackett, Gary Greenberg, Paul Barnabee, Phyllis Stark and a throng of others.

On a culinary note, the dinner was rubber-chicken banquet perfection. As someone who has covered hundreds of such occasions, I can expertly attest to this.

• • • • •

It was chips and dips at the Jason Aldean Platinum Record party at Terrazzo (3/1), held just prior to the awards banquet. Aldean’s My Kinda Party is his third Platinum platter, and it got its award in just 11 weeks. He was Billboard’s Top Male Artist of 2010 and has two ACM nominations, Male Vocalist and Entertainer.

Broken Bow hosts Rick Shedd and Benny Brown welcomed a crowd that included Chris Parr, Jason Sellers, Michael Knox, Clarence Spalding, Tom Roland, Terry Bumgarner, Chuck Aly, Mary Hilliard Harrington, Kevin Neal, Carson James, Lee Adams, Rac Clark, Debbie Carroll, Scott Kiley and Hunter Kelly.

One wall held 140 plaques for all the reporting radio stations who play Aldean’s songs. A big group photo was snapped. Since “Don’t You Wanna Stay” hit No. 1 on the star’s birthday (2/28/77), we all sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

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