Miranda Lambert Earns Seventh Country Radio Chart-Topper With "Bluebird"

Miranda Lambert has earned her seventh No. 1 single this week, as “Bluebird” tops both Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart.

“Bluebird” is the second single from her album Wildcard and Lambert co-wrote the track alongside Natalie Hemby and Luke Dick. The song has earned more than 130 million on-demand streams to date.

“2020 hasn’t offered a whole lot to celebrate, especially for musicians,” Lambert said on Twitter. “But I am celebrating this week. I’m celebrating happiness and the feeling of artistic freedom in a time where we all feel a little caged. I’m celebrating country music and all the joy it has brought to my life. I’m celebrating ALL the fans, the writers, the musicians, the crews and bands, radio and streaming services, and venues for allowing me to have the most wonderful career for the last 17 years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And thank you to Luke Dick for allowing me to write this beautiful idea with you and to Natalie Hemby (my Dean Dillon) for bringing it home. Also Jay Joyce for bringing it to life and giving it wings, Trey Fanjoy for setting this bluebird free in the most beautiful video. And my management Shopkeeper MGMT/Marion Kraft and Sony Nashville for fighting for this song and for me. Turns out we did have a wildcard up our sleeve.”

“Bluebird” marks Lambert’s first No. 1 song on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart in eight years, and her first on Mediabase in six years.

She previously reached No. 1 as part of the 2018 Jason Aldean collaboration “Drowns The Whiskey,” but as a solo artist, her most recent No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart was in 2012 with “Over You.” She last hit No. 1 on Mediabase in 2014 with “Automatic.”

“Bluebird” follows an uptick in No. 1 songs from solo female artists so far in 2020, following chart-toppers from Maren Morris (the multi-week No. 1 “The Bones”), Ingrid Andress (“More Hearts Than Mine”), Gabby Barrett (“I Hope”) and Carly Pearce (“I Hope You’re Happy Now” ft. Lee Brice).

Eddie Stubbs Announces Retirement

Eddie Stubbs. Photo: Grand Ole Opry/WSM

Longtime WSM Radio on-air personality, Grand Ole Opry announcer and music scholar Eddie Stubbs announced his retirement on Tuesday evening (July 21). He will officially sign off on July 29. WSM will soon announce plans for its 7 p.m.-midnight shift; in the interim, Jeff Hoag will serve as host.

WSM Radio posted the following on their Facebook page: “This evening Eddie Stubbs announced his retirement from WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry. Eddie has been a part of our airwaves for more than 25 years, and we’re so grateful for his knowledge, wisdom and passion for country music. Stay tuned this week and next as WSM celebrates Eddie Stubbs. We’ll revisit some of his famed interviews from our archives, and so much more! Thank you Eddie, for keeping the light on for Nashville radio!!”

On July 8, 1996, Stubbs began hosting the evening shift on WSM and now holds the distinction of being the longest-serving broadcaster in the 7 p.m. to midnight slot in WSM’s 95 years of operation. With a different theme each night, ‘Hall Of Fame Monday,’ ‘Two For Tuesday,’ Way Back Wednesday,’ ‘Classic Opry Thursday’ and ‘WSM By Request’ on Fridays, Stubbs’ unique insight into the stories and the people behind the music always gave listeners a reason to tune in.

Stubbs said, “I have had an extremely blessed 25 years at WSM, and as the third-longest tenured announcer in the Grand Ole Opry’s history. The experiences and friendships have allowed me to live a lot of dreams. Needless to say, I will be forever grateful.”

WSM Director of Content and Programming J. Patrick Tinnell said, “Eddie’s talent, service and dedication are the stuff of legends and are forever part of WSM and Grand Ole Opry history.”

Stubbs came to Nashville on March 21, 1995 to play fiddle with the Queen of Country Music Kitty Wells and her husband Johnnie Wright. A week later he was hired part-time at WSM. Just seventeen days after his arrival in Music City, Eddie auditioned for the announcer’s position on the Grand Ole Opry show.

Dan Rogers, Grand Ole Opry Vice President and Executive Producer, said, “Eddie has been a great friend to the Opry, to the Opry’s artists, and to listeners around the world. I have no doubt that students of the Opry and of country music will for years turn to his recorded conversations with legends including Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart and so many more to learn about their careers and the era in which Eddie has made such an impact at the Opry and on WSM.”

In addition to his roles at WSM and Opry, Stubbs served six seasons as the on-camera announcer for The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV. He has served on committees with the Country Music Association, the International Bluegrass Music Association, as well as The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Stubbs earned the Country Music Association’s Large Market Broadcast Personality of the Year award in 2002. In 2012, he received country radio’s highest honor by becoming one of the youngest living inductees into the Country Radio Hall of Fame.

2020 Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards Ceremony Postponed

The 2020 Country Radio Hall of Fame Induction and Dinner ceremony has been postponed to an undisclosed date and time, the Country Radio Broadcasters announced Monday (July 20).

The annual event, initially scheduled for June 24, then re-scheduled for Sept. 3, is now on hold due to ongoing uncertainties surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

CRB/CRS Executive Director RJ Curtis commented, “The health and safety of our inductees, attendees, and sponsorship partners will always be of the utmost importance when planning any CRB event. We will properly honor the Country Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020 at a future date to be announced. Moving forward, CRB staff will be focusing our attention on a memorable and successful CRS 2021.”

As previously announced, the 2020 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees include three off-air radio broadcasters and three on-air radio personalities. The off-air honorees are Jim Duncan, Victor Sansone, and George Beasley. The on-air honorees are Tim Wilson, Chuck Edwards, and Mark “Hawkeye” Louis.

Radio Programming Veteran Kenny Jay Joins Big Loud

Kenny Jay

Big Loud has filled a newly-created role of National Director of Radio Marketing, as Kenny Jay joins the team. Jay will report to Stacy Blythe, VP, Promotion.

In the new role, Jay will develop, execute, and optimize radio marketing strategies as an extension of the radio promotion team. During Jay’s 23-year career in radio, he most recently served as a PD for WUSN/Chicago and KMNB/Minneapolis. He has also led radio stations in Savannah, Georgia (WUBB), Minneapolis, Minnesota (KMNB), Seattle, Washington (KMPS), and Chicago, Illinois (WUSN), and has also earned accolades including multiple Radio Ink and Billboard top programmer awards.

“When it comes to delivering hit records, I’ve watched this team develop into one of, if not the most, consistent labels in country music,” Jay says. “My previous radio stations and I believed in their artists from the start, and I’m excited to work for such a forward-thinking company. Thank you to Seth [England], Joey [Moi], Craig [Wiseman], and Stacy [Blythe] for the amazing opportunity to join this talented roster of promo executives!”

“When the opportunity arose to have Kenny join our team, the invitation was extended without hesitation,” Blythe says. “Kenny and I have ‘grown up’ in this business together – often sharing similar philosophies that now can be joined into one purpose and execution. We are looking forward to adding his expertise to our efforts in delivering hit records to country radio!”

Charlie Worsham’s Air Castle Community Hour On WSM Radio Launches Tonight

Singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham‘s new monthly radio show on WSM, Air Castle Community Hour, which takes its name from the antenna that broadcasts WSM 650 AM, begins tonight (July 7) at 6 p.m. CT. The show will broadcast the first Tuesday of each month.

“For 94 years, WSM has been the literal hub of the country music airwaves, and throughout my 14 years in Nashville, I’ve been fortunate to come to know so many of the creative spirits that make the music that makes us proud,” he said. “It’s a thrill and an honor to host a monthly show on WSM that highlights the diversity and charm of Music City’s music makers. I want this radio hour to feel like a community happy hour, one complete with laughter and smiles as well as poignant reflection, and of course, great stories and songs.”

The first episode will showcase Worsham discussing stories from country music’s history, while including songs from Hailey Whitters to The Staple Singers.

“It’s always been important to me that the Grand Ole Opry strives to showcase the past, present, and future of country music,” said Vice President and Executive Producer of the Grand Ole Opry Dan Rogers. “I firmly believe that Charlie Worsham does the same thing. I know many of us in the Opry family look forward to tuning in and hearing from some of the artists we love as well as to having Charlie introduce us to voices that may be new to us.”

Country Radio Broadcasters’ Upcoming CRS360 Webinar To Feature Steve Reynolds, Mojo

Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. will present the latest in its CRS360 webinar series with “The Pivot: How Great Talent Have Changed to Stay Successful,” on June 23 from noon-1:00 p.m. CT. Panelists will include Steve Reynolds of The Reynolds Group as well as Top 40 station WKQI/Detroit morning radio personality Mojo. The two will discuss how radio on-air personalities have adjusted to prepping, reaching listeners and collaborating with radio station sales teams.

CRB/CRS Executive Director, RJ Curtis, commented, “Our June CRS360 continues a three-part series on how radio has modified best practices during a time of extraordinary, unpredictable events. The focus here is on-air personalities, a station’s most direct contact point with listeners. As Steve and Mojo will discuss, sustaining success has required talent to pivot on everything they do: show prep, connecting with listeners, daily execution, and being a helpful resource to the sales team.”

Interested parties can register for “The Pivot: How Great Talent Have Changed to Remain Successful,” via Zoom. Only a limited number of slots are available and are based on a first-come, first-served basis.

In July, CRS360 will examine how radio sales teams are working to recapture business and service clients during the pandemic.

Additional CRS360 webinars have included an in-depth look at “Tone down anxiety, turn up the music: how to cope with stress and uncertainty” featuring Miles Adcox, “CRS Research Presentation: Do You Know Your Listeners As Well As You Think You Do? – A Closer Look,” “The Impact of Ken Burns’ Country Music,” “Continuous Diary Market Measurement: An Update,” “Country Radio’s Podcasting Opportunity,” “A Discussion of Gender Balance at Country Radio: Part I and Part II,” and more.

Big Machine Records’ Kris Lamb Rises To Sr. VP, Promotion & Digital

Kris Lamb.

Big Machine Records has announced a round of promotions and contract extensions, including Kris Lamb rising to Sr. VP, Promotion & Digital.

Director of Northeast Promotion and Marketing Brooke Diaz, Director of West Promotion and Marketing Bill Lubitz and Director of Southeast Promotion and Marketing Jeff Davis have also had multi-year contract extensions.

“These four individuals represent the heart and soul of Big Machine,” said General Manager of Big Machine Records Clay Hunnicutt. “Kris Lamb’s leadership and example to our team through good and tough times has been invaluable, and his elevation to Senior Vice President represents that. He will continue to be a force of positivity and winning for years to come at The Machine. The passion, work, and determination of all of these individuals is second to none. We could not be happier that we’ll all be growing and succeeding together for many years to come.”

Lamb joined the imprint in 2010 after working for The Walt Disney Company’s Lyric Street Records, executing all West Coast Promotion strategies. A Belmont University graduate, Lamb is an adjunct professor of Music Promotion Strategies at his alma mater.

Recipient of the CRS Regional of the Year in 2018 and 2020, Diaz joined BMLG in 2014 in the role of West Coast Promotion Representative before transitioning to Northeast Promotion in 2017. Lubitz has been at BMLG for six years with former stops at Black River and KWNR, while Davis joined Big Machine in 2008 with previous stops at The Equity Music Group, Elektra, MCA and Epic Records.

Carly Pearce, Lee Brice Hit No. 1

Lee Brice and Carly Pearce. Photo: John Shearer

Carly Pearce and Lee Brice‘s collaboration, “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” has reached the pinnacle of both Mediabase’s country radio chart and Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart this week.

“We are celebrating a No. 1 together. Life is crazy, y’all. Life takes you places you never thought & makes the most beautiful moments,” Pearce said via Instagram. “Thank you @leebrice for lending your incredible voice to this song. What started as my apology to someone from my past, ended up giving me closure and making me realize we ALL fall short sometimes and all go through hard stuff. So very grateful to be celebrating my second No. 1 & am so thankful to country radio & all of YOU!”

The track marks Pearce’s second No. 1 single, following her debut chart-topper from 2017, “Every Little Thing.” Brice’s string of No. 1 hits also includes “Rumor,” “I Don’t Dance,” “I Drive Your Truck,” and “Hard to Love,” among others.

Pearce co-wrote the song with Luke Combs, Jonathan Singleton and Randy Montana, and the track is included on Pearce’s sophomore album, which released on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14).

Copperline Music Group Adds Three Staffers

Necessary, Mayotte, Korver.

Copperline Music Group has named Seth Necessary as Director, Radio Promotions, to lead the label’s national and regional radio promotions efforts.

Additionally, Justin Mayotte has joined as Director, Social Content and Videography, and Jessica Korver has joined as Social Media Coordinator.

“To keep the momentum of the label’s vision, we are strengthening our team with the addition of Seth, Justin, and Jessica to the CMG family,” states Rusty Harmon, Partner at Copperline Music Group.

“Being a part of this talented team of music business professionals is thrilling,” says Necessary. “Putting our artists in a position to succeed, through diverse but comprehensive avenues and aggressive efforts, is the hallmark of Copperline’s vision. I am proud to have the opportunity to lead that charge at radio.”

Necessary has had nearly 20 years of experience in country radio promotions. His career began in syndication at Huntsman Entertainment, directing such efforts as Country HitMakers and Christmas on Music Row, the Live From Nashville! radio remote during CMA Awards week, and various album premiere projects. Following this, he ascended to the position of Director of Country Broadcasting at Impact Radio Networks, leading the clearance of various programs and album projects, independent record promotion to the Texas/Red Dirt scene, and satellite radio tours for key artists within the country format. He became one of the top promoters in the Texas/Red Dirt scene for over nine years. He was most recently the Director of Promotions, Midwest/Texas for Riser House Entertainment in Nashville. He is based out of Hallsville, Texas, where he resides with his wife Brittney and two children, ten-year-old Wesley and one-year-old Vivian.

Copperline Music Group has recently grown its roster to include John Schneider/Maven Entertainment, Black Sheep Label Group, and Lozen Entertainment Group.

On-Air During A Pandemic: How One Radio Station Is Handling COVID-19 [Interview]

Dennis Banka, the station owner of 104.1 The Ranch in Carthage, Tennessee, bought the station in 2006. In addition to his ownership duties, he also serves as on-air talent and is a familiar voice in the cars and homes of those in the surrounding community. Like many businesses, 104.1 The Ranch was directly affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Banka spoke with MusicRow to discuss his approach to managing his station and serving his community during this pandemic.

MusicRow: Has the station been working remotely? What have been some challenges?

Banka: Initially, we paid people. Then, we laid people off. We’re able to get the [Paycheck Protection Program loan] and bring them back. Initially, laying people off is the hard part because they take it personally. The PPP was great because I have a good relationship with my local banker who is already set up to be an SBA loan affiliate. As soon as the PPP came available my accountant called me, and my bank called me, and said, “Come down here and fill out these papers.” Once we filled out the paperwork, it was quick and painless. As soon as we got that back, we called people back. Some are working remotely, and some hours have been cut drastically, but everyone’s at full pay.

What are you doing in the office to stay healthy?

We’re in a smaller building, so we’re trying to protect everyone as much as possible. The bathroom is at the front door when you walk in. I don’t care who you are, you’re washing your hands. The biggest challenge is sanitizing the studios. We touch so much as board operators—the microphone, board, CD players, mouses, keyboards, computer screens—we’re touching everything. We’re trying to keep a really good account of what we touch and sanitizing everything before we leave.

Sunday mornings, we have preachers do live preaching, and we’ve had to convert those folks to either do it on their phone or send us a Wav [Audio File] or MP3. We just now started allowing preachers back into the building. There’s a whole process between preachers where we go in and wipe down the podium, swap out microphones and clean the microphones as a precaution.

How have your duties evolved since the start of the pandemic?

The last six weeks, I have worked here from five in the morning ’til seven at night, alone. One, to make sure everything got on and off that’s supposed to. Two, to be here for the clients and answer any questions. I got really proactive when this whole thing started. I contacted all my advertisers and gave them all my cell number. If the grocery store got meat, call me. Get in toilet paper, call me. We’re updating spots daily. A client called and said, “We’re closing tomorrow, can you change our commercial?” We were able to cut that.

I think being here for the clients really helped. Anybody that wanted to jump ship, we’re able to tell them, “This is going to be over, and you need to be [on] top of [people’s] minds. Let’s keep on advertising.” We have a telecommunication company that advertises with us and they’re offering free channels. I said, “Broadcast that. Let’s announce what you’re doing to help the people. It [helped] our local grocery stores. They weren’t running their weekly specials but they’re still there. Let’s talk about six-feet distancing, how you’re counting customers, how you’re stocking, when you’re cleaning, special times for seniors. Anything you’re doing that is different or special, let’s tell people.”

We aired the governor’s daily briefing, a local task force meeting, and a lot of specialty programming during the day for information. Someone had to be here to get that on and off and make sure the levels were good

How have you been handling programming duties at the station?

My duties as owner involve mowing the grass, checking the transmitter, all those daily maintenance things so I have people email me instead of taking music calls. There hasn’t been that much change in the chart, and there are more new songs being added that we have no place to play [them]. As much as we want to play somebody, nothing’s changing because artists aren’t touring or out there promoting their music. They’re not out there selling concert tickets and not doing radio station visits. We’re doing a lot of phone interviews and Facebook takeovers, but it doesn’t translate to the chart. It’s not fair for us to drop records just to add new records.

I think right now, a lot of things that are on the chart are staying there because people need some sort of normalcy. They just need something that sounds familiar and the same. Everything else is changing every day. We lost our local sports; we have baseball and softball. So, we substituted in classic baseball, classic softball, classic NFL just so [the station] feels the same. It’s just really hard right now to say, “Here’s a new song from XYZ artist,” and there’s no award show or event to promote. There’s no momentum. Stations, I think, are just trying to stay on the air. We don’t know what the Fall is going to look like, what our Summer is going to look like with our county fair. We don’t know any of that, so I hate to say it but [music] is taking a back seat.

With station events/concerts shut down, how have you been helping artists connect with listeners?

We’ve done a lot of [phone interviews]. I contacted the PR companies and said, “I’m here from morning to night. Tell them to call me and get artists on to talk.” We record it, and we find a place [on-air] for it. We’ve done a few Facebook takeovers. The major labels send us liners, you know about COVID and staying apart, stay at home.

We’re doing as much as we can but being hands on is not there. I think with new artists not on radio tours is going to hurt because that’s when we fall in love with the artist. That when we become friends with the artist. That’s when we care about the artist, and when we get to know the artist. That’s where we have the first interaction. At this station, we like putting artists on the radio.

How have you been handling the business-related meetings at the station?

This year there are license renewals for television and radio for Tennessee. There’s a lot of paperwork that has to be done for the FCC. There’s a lot that has to be done behind the scenes that we’ve been taking care of. There’s other filings, even our taxes. We’ve been operating like business as usual.

I’m out there cutting the grass in front of the radio station so people see things as normal. I think if you take care of your storefront and your product sounds consistent, people know you’re not afraid. You want to be the strength of the community.

If you say doom and gloom, they’re going to hear doom and gloom; they’re going to live doom and gloom. Point out some good stuff happening. Check on your neighbors; check on the elderly. Make sure they have food; make sure that they’re mentally okay. We talked to our local drug prevention coalition. Check on addicts to make sure that they are not struggling. It’s your attitude that’s going to help other people, so we’re doing the same as a business.

What content have you been running on-air to engage the listeners?

We’re giving people a reason to tune in because their normal patterns are gone. No one, for the last six weeks, has taken their kids to school or gone to work. How do we engage them? The top 60 songs are great but we also need to provide content between that. We report the COVID-19 numbers, and the numbers related to testing. Let’s talk about people that recovered. Let’s talk about people that are doing better.

We do an annual “Senior Salute” to the graduating seniors for two high schools. Normally, they get a paper in homeroom to fill out with their name, their parents’ names, things they’ve done, things they’re going to miss, a hashtag that people use to describe them. Since schools were shut down, we weren’t able to do that. We contacted the principals and through technology, we’re able to get those forms out to all the students. Over a period two weeks, we will play a song for each graduating senior. We’re giving away prizes to graduating seniors. We’re doing the stuff we normally do this time year, so it sounds like 104.1 The Ranch. I think people appreciate the fact that we went that extra step.