Tom Roland Honored With 2018 CMA Media Achievement Award

Pictured (L-R): Tom Roland, Bill Anderson at “The 52nd Annual CMA Awards,” on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Photo: Jamie Schramm/CMA

Billboard journalist Tom Roland was presented with the 2018 CMA Media Achievement Award backstage Wednesday, Nov. 14 during The 52nd Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Country Music Hall of Fame member and three-time CMA Awards winner Bill Anderson addressed journalists during the CMA Awards press conference, surprising Roland with the honor.

In presenting the 37th recipient with the award, Anderson said to press conference attendees, “Even the pros look to Tom Roland. He’s one of country music’s bedrock authorities.”

“At every significant juncture in my life, some song was there to act as comfort, to punctuate the joy or to assure me that I wasn’t entirely alone,” said Roland. “Music is really important, and to get an award for simply trying to convey little pieces of how it works—or how it’s made and marketed—is awesome. And surprisingly meaningful. Much appreciation for this!”

After writing about country music for more than 35 years, Roland is one of the genre’s most trusted experts. For the last eight years, he’s worked as the editor and lead writer for Billboard’s weekly newsletter, Billboard Country Update.

Roland spent seven years as the senior music writer for Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, wrote thousands of hours of network radio programs for Westwood One and the United Stations Radio Networks, and compiled credits in The Hollywood Reporter, The Orange County Register, Country Music magazine, Country Weekly and, among others. He spent four years as the music consultant for CMT’s game show, The Singing Bee, and he’s authored two books—The Billboard Book Of Number One Country Hits and the Diamond Rio autobiography Beautiful Mess: The Story Of Diamond Rio. Roland also contributed to a Country Music Foundation reference book, The Encyclopedia of Country Music.

Perhaps the most important piece of his career puzzle is, the Ultimate Country Music Database. With 60,000 events from country music history catalogued, it’s an ever-growing resource that’s frequently used by Nashville journalists as a key fact-checking source.

The CMA Media Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievements in the media as they relate to country music. Print and Internet journalists, columnists, authors, and editors; television writers, producers and bookers; and syndicated radio reporters are eligible to win this award. A task force of industry publicists nominates a slate of five candidates for consideration by CMA member publicists. The publicists select the winner, which is presented to the CMA Awards and Recognition Committee and then approved by the CMA Board of Directors.


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at

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