GAC Focuses On Fan Engagement

Kellie Pickler chats with Suzanne Alexander and fans live on Facebook.com/GAC following "The Collection." Photo by Cheryl Ecton

GAC is focusing on fan interaction in 2012. On Wednesday the network hosted a live event with Kellie Pickler, allowing viewers to send in questions for the star via Facebook, Twitter or phone. It was the first live episode of The Collection, one of the network’s most popular shows, where artists reflect on their careers by looking back at their videos in chronological order. The artists join host Storme Warren to discuss what was going on in their lives at the time of each video and share details about the shoot.

Pickler and her videos are a consistent favorite of GAC viewers, so an hour with her was an ideal opportunity to try on-air viewer interaction, according to GM/SVP Sarah Trahern and VP/Programming, Suzanne Gordon. Producers let fans program the show by selecting which of Pickler’s videos they’d like to see. Plus, the singer’s feisty brand of humor and quick-wit make her a natural for a live setting. After the show, she joined GAC host Suzanne Alexander for an additional hour engaging fans through an online chat on the GAC Facebook page.

Trahern and Gordon say that viewers can expect more live, interactive programming throughout this year. The network—available in 62 million households—will continue to focus on fan engagement as it debuts new series this spring and brings back other recent additions to the lineup.

Fans were front and center when the network paired Trace Adkins and Exile for a remake of the latter’s ‘70s hit “Kiss You All Over.” Fans were allowed to join them in the studio for the show Hit Exchange, which aired in December.

Scheduled to return in 2012 is the Day Jobs series, which takes stars back to their first jobs. Also on the docket is the return of Tom’s Wild Life, which mixes legendary outfitter, hunter and cowboy Tom McMillan with celebrity clients including Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton at his Kansas ranch. Meanwhile, Warren’s news vehicle Headline Country will up the ante from twice monthly to weekly in 2012.

Fan voting has long been a key part of GAC’s countdown shows, including the Top 20 Country Countdown, and the new Top 50 Videos of the 2000s.

In recent years a partnership with the ACM has helped the network and the ACM Awards boost fan engagement. GACtv.com is hosting fan voting for the ACM New Artist of the Year Award. The eight nominees are also featured on GAC’s ACM Showcase show, where Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, JT Hodges, Scotty McCreery, Justin Moore, David Nail, Jerrod Niemann and Thompson Square are interviewed by Warren. Online fan voting to select the final three nominees closes Monday, Jan. 30, 12:00 pm/Eastern.

GAC will then feature the three finalists in a performance special, premiering Monday, March 19. That will be followed by a final round of online voting beginning Monday, March 19 at VoteACM.com.

The New Artist of the Year trophy will be handed out at the April 1 ACM Awards, where GAC will offer live red carpet coverage from the event in Las Vegas.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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