The elite of country music’s radio industry gathered on Wednesday (June 21) to celebrate the induction of the Country Radio Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017.
This year’s Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees included Tim Closson, the late Joe Wade Formicola, Mel Owens, Jim Mantel, Charlie Ochs, the late Linda Lee, and Good Morning Guys’ Susan Moore, Brian Gary, and Todd Harding. Each nominee for induction into the Country Radio Hall of Fame must have at least 20 years experience in radio, with 15 of those being in the country genre.
Country Radio Broadcasters Board Vice President and All Access Country Editor R.J. Curtis welcomed guests to the Country Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“It validates their career and life’s work,” he said of the honor’s impact on honorees. “It’s better than giving away a car or $10,000.”
UMG Nashville Chairman and CEO Mike Dungan, who was the first label head to serve on the Board of the Country Radio Broadcasters, was honored with with the President’s Award. He is the third active board member to receive the President’s Award in the 20-year history.
Dungan recalled the impact of country radio, and especially the Country Radio Seminar on artists’ careers, detailing how an early performance from Keith Urban at Country Radio Seminar launched a career filled with numerous chart toppers, including his most recent, “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”
Martina McBride was honored with the Career Achievement Award, commemorating a career that includes six No. 1 hits, 14 Grammy nominations and nearly 20 million albums sold.
McBride thanked numerous radio programmers and label promoters who have been part of her career from the beginning. She also thanked former label head Joe Galante for his long-term support of her career.
“One time he came to see a show, and he commented that all my songs really sound and feel like me,” she said. “I was never told what I could or could not record and was immensely supported by Joe Galante.
“I wanted to have songs on the radio and I wanted to have songs that mattered, and you allowed me to do both,” she concluded.
Each of the honorees and/or the colleagues and family members honoring them mentioned highlights and funny tales from their lengthy careers in radio.
The late Joe Formicola son Joseph recalled how Formicola made an on-air plea to large businesses in Detroit, asking for a $10,000 check from the community to benefit cancer research. Within moments of making that on-air plea, a check had been delivered to the radio station.
Mac Daniels introduced Charlie Ochs, and recalled how when Ochs was on-air in the Washington, D.C. area, then-President George H.W. Bush’s security detail would call and request recordings of Charlie’s on-air work for Bush to listen to when he traveled outside of the Washington area.
Kid Rock made a special appearance to honor Linda Lee, who recently died after a battle with cancer. “We were a tight community and I became friends with Linda,” he said. “She was happy as hell all the time. I was in touch with her throughout her battle. I knew she was a fan of me, but I was a fan of hers.”
The Good Morning Guys’ Bryan Gary ended the evening a fiery, impassioned acceptance speech.
“Every one of us in this room is in the coolest damn industry. We set the mood for the day for listeners. We play music and talk about things. I want to give [listeners] something they haven’t had. It’s because of country music that we have a door to the listeners.”
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