Music industry veteran Ed Hardy, who served as President of Great American Country (GAC) for eight years, died on Sunday (July 31). He was 73.
Hardy was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Edward B. and Rita M. Hardy. He studied communications and journalism at Kent State University and spent 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he attained the rank of Major.
Hardy started his career working at local radio stations throughout Ohio. He spent much of the mid-’90s building Deschutes River Broadcasting from a single AM/FM radio in Tri-Cities, Washington, to a collection of 19 stations, operating in markets across the Pacific northwest. When he sold his radio group, it led to the growth of Citadel Radio.
In 2000, Hardy became president of MeasureCast, the internet-streaming broadcast audience measurement company. He was also a consultant to MediaBlue/Nox Solutions, the top provider of web design, hosting and fulfillment products for nationally syndicated and network radio talk show hosts.
Hardy became President of GAC in 2004 when Scripps Networks acquired the network. In his eight years with GAC, he led the network through a move to Nashville and oversaw a complete brand transformation. He announced his retirement in 2012.
Hardy was a very involved Music Row executive. He served on the CMA Board of Directors from 2005 to 2017 and the CMA Foundation Board from 2014 to 2021. Hardy also acted as CMA’s interim CEO in 2013, as well as president of the Board of Directors at W.O Smith Community Music School in Nashville. He also found time to spend five years as a reserve police officer.
Hardy was the current Chairman of Music City Inc. (the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp Foundation Board). He was also active with Operation Song, which connects his military experience with his passion for music.
He received the CMA Chairman’s Award in 2013 for his outstanding service to the organization. In 2014, he was given the President’s Award from the Country Radio Hall of Fame.
Ed Hardy is survived by his wife Kim Susan Hardy; daughter Stephanie (Hardy) Kasbrick and son-in-law Jacob Kasbrick; grandchildren Emmie Jeanne and Bear Weller; and cousins Patrick M. Hardy, Thomas A. Hardy, Catherine A. Hardy and John J. Hardy.
Of Hardy’s death, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern shares, “They certainly broke the mold with Ed Hardy, and I am greatly saddened by his loss. One of my favorite memories working with Ed was when he led a coalition of us, including GAC and Scripps Networks, the NCVC and the Opry to host a nationwide telethon to help Nashville recover from the devastating 2010 floods. Thanks to his dedication, passion and refusal to take no for an answer, he made it happen and raised millions in relief. With a relentless competitive spirit, Ed aimed high and challenged those around him to do the same. He was fiercely loyal to friends, old and new, and carried an unwavering love of country music. My deepest condolences go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.”
Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp CEO Butch Spyridon shares, “Ed Hardy served this organization in so many ways–first as a broadcast partner, then a sponsor, then a board member and then chairing both the NCVC board of directors and the board of our foundation. Through that, we developed a deep friendship that transcended work. It is very unusual to have a boss, mentor and friend all at the same time. He leaves a huge void and will be missed.”
More details to come regarding a celebration of Hardy’s life to be held at the W.O. Smith School of Music.
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