BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
The current radio industry paused to honor its past as the Country Radio Seminar convention cranked up Tuesday evening (Feb. 18).
Staged at the old Nashville Convention Center, this was the 37th induction of Country DJ’s into their Hall of Fame. Note that I didn’t say “annual.” The event has a checkered past. Actually, it took many years for Country Radio Seminar to embrace it. There were no DJ inductions in 1986, 1987 and 1997. Organizers began adding radio executives to the Hall of Fame in 2001, but no one was inducted in 2004. This latter category will doubtless assume greater prominence in years to come since disc jockeys no longer have the personalities or the influence that they used to.
“This year marks a milestone,” said R.J. Curtis. It’s the Hall’s 40th anniversary.” Correct. The first inductions were in 1974.
One of the Hall’s founding fathers, Chuck Chellman, was there to see what his baby had grown up to become. That is, more than 500 people at a sit-down Convention Center banquet with a show that is professionally staged and managed.
Here’s a revelation: Chuck’s sister is Carol Mascolo, who is married to country-industry legend Ed Mascolo. I have known these people for years, yet never knew this.
At any rate, Ed is now with the management company Turner & Nichols & Associates, so he introduced me to the company’s new Republic signee Jackie Lee. Jackie is tall, friendly and handsome and is being produced by Carson Chamberlain, so those are good signs. I believe there is also a female “Jackie Lee” who competes on The Voice, which is not a good sign. Stay tuned.
Other artists working the room at this prestigious gig included J.T. Hodges, Mike Eli & James Young, Kellie Pickler, Jamie O’Neal and Jack Ingram.
Among the industry mavens schmoozing were Karen Clark, Karen Tallier, Charlie Chase, Charlie Cook, Dan Rogers, Dan Halyburton, Dan Hollander, Bobby Young, Bobby Craig, Robby Lynn, Bob Kingsley (who had a big doo-dah at the Opry House on Monday for his 40th anniversary of counting down the hits), Debbie Linn, Deborah Evans Price, Mike Wilson, Mike Hammond, Mike Kraski, Jimmy Murphy, Bill Mayne, Andrew Kintz, Chuck & Kelly Shultz (of Maverick magazine), Pete Fisher, Lon Helton, Kim Leslie, Phyllis Stark, Todd Cassetty, Lorianne Crook, Lisa Harless (whose Regions Bank sponsored the Green Room and is giving away an eco-friendly green bike during CRS, too), Cathy Martindale, Ed Morris, Tim McFadden, George Briner, Phil Sweetland, Rick Murray, Paul Allen and Sarah Trahern. Did you know that MR’s own Jessica Nicholson was once the intern of attendee Schatzi Hageman? Now you do.
The award ceremony was presented with surprising alacrity, and was mercifully free of long-winded speeches.
This year’s radio-exec inductees were Mike Brophey and Larry Wilson. Brophey is a veteran of 30 years in Boston and Philadelphia and is also a consultant. “Our format has become almost mind boggling in its strength,” he said. “This organization…really is a fraternity. It’s a real camaraderie that you don’t find anywhere else. The induction is beyond belief.”
Wilson has been a mogul at Citadel Communications and Alpha Broadcasting. “This [CRS] is what makes country music so great,” he observed. “I don’t think there’s ever been a better time than right now. I’m truly blessed to have done what I’ve done in my career.”
The on-air personalities inducted this year were Paul Schadt and Jim Denny. Schadt is the longest consecutive on-air personality in Charlotte, NC radio history. “Tonight is definitely the highlight of my professional career,” he said. He’s very much at his peak: He not only was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he is also the ACM major-market air personality of the year.
Denny had the most colorful induction. He’s the 25-year host of the morning show at WFMS in Indianapolis. He was introduced by his wife, Mimi Pearce, who is the traffic reporter on the show. How cool is that? Even cooler was the person doing the actual inducting. Denny is a bluegrass picker, and a 12-year-old fiddler named Alison Krauss was once a member of his band. She did the honors. “What a night, what a night,” he exclaimed. “I have been so lucky. I have worked with some of the best people in the world.” Also cool is the fact that he is an Indianapolis native, still working in his hometown.
The President’s Award went to Ed Hardy. You know him in Nashville as the former head of GAC and as the acting chairman of the CMA board. But Ed also has a solid radio background as an exec at stations in Cleveland, Portland, Louisville and Denver. He is the current chairman of the board of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the past president of the board of the W.O. Smith Community Music School. Here’s something I didn’t know: good-guy Ed is a 20-year vet of the Army Reserves who has attained the rank of Major. Salute!
This year’s Career Achievement Award honoree was Vince Gill. “We’re here to honor this young man who has come of age before our very eyes,” said Rodney Crowell. “Hasn’t he done well?” added Emmylou Harris. “We’re proud to know you, Vince.” They sang “Go Rest High on That Mountain” in Vince’s honor.
“Life is good when your biggest heroes become your best friends,” said Vince. “What I want to share with all of you is sheer gratefulness for what you did for a kid. I made my first record 40 years ago. Radio stations where I grew up were kind enough to play that record. It gave me such hope that I could do this. I never forgot that feeling of when I first heard myself on the radio. I can still drive you to that spot. And I still feel that way….And I promise you I’m going to keep coming, beating on your door” with more music.
We dined on tender, medium-rare filet mignon, with broccoli and roasted squash and tomato slices, plus cheesy rice with cheesecake desserts. The wine was from The Dreaming Tree, the vineyard of pop star Dave Matthews. I had the white, and it was quite crisp and good.
The after party starred Rachele Lynae and Outshyne, plus Jamie O’Neal.