Maren Morris Earns 1st Multi-Format No. 1 With “The Bones”

Maren Morris. Photo: Harper Smith

While “The Bones” spends its fifth week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, Maren Morris notches her first multi-format No. 1 with the Platinum-certified hit going No. 1 on both the Billboard Adult Pop Songs and Mediabase Hot A.C. charts, as well. The song’s 45-week climb to the top marks the longest ever rise to No. 1 on both charts.

In addition, “The Bones” remains in the Top 10 this week on the Country Aircheck chart nine weeks after reaching No. 1 for two consecutive weeks in February, which made it the first solo female back-to-back No. 1 since 2012.

“The Bones” has earned Morris other accolades, as well. When the song first hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in February, it marked the first time since 2016 that a solo country female artist had two No. 1s from the same album, including Morris’ “GIRL” from the GIRL album.

Additionally, Morris’ latest single “To Hell & Back” was the second most-added at country radio last week, with 41 first week stations.

John Shomby Exits Cumulus

John Shomby, PD for Nashville’s WKDF and Director of Programming for Cumulus Nashville, has left the company, Cumulus has confirmed with MusicRow Magazine.

Shomby was promoted to Program Director of NASH FM 103.3 (WKDF) in 2017 after joining as the NASH Director of Programming in 2016. His career includes time at Max Media Hampton Roads, where he was Operations Manager for their five-station cluster, KLIF Radio, KAAM/KZPS in Dallas, and Cumulus’s seven-station cluster in Augusta.

Jake Owen Celebrates Eighth No. 1 Single With "Homemade"

Jake Owen. Photo: Robby Klein

Jake Owen is celebrating his eighth career No. 1 as his single “Homemade” reached No. 1 on country radio this week, topping both the Billboard Country Airplay chart and the Country Aircheck/Mediabase Airplay chart. The song is also No. 1 on the Billboard and Mediabase country charts in Canada.

The single was penned by Bobby Pinson, Drew Parker, Jared Mullins and Ben Goldsmith, and marks the third single from Owen’s Big Loud Records album Greetings From…Jake.

“Homemade” follows Greetings From…Jake’s Gold-certified chart-topper “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” and Platinum-certified, Top 5 single “Down to the Honkytonk.”

Weekly Radio Report (3/13/20)

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Ty Bentli Exits Cumulus

Ty Bentli

Ty Bentli has exited Westwood One/Cumulus to take a role outside of radio. According to a spokesperson for Cumulus, co-hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins will take over the hosting reins.

“We wish Ty all the best in his new endeavors,” said a spokesperson for Cumulus.

Bentli joined what was then called America’s Morning Show in 2016. The show was later rebranded as Ty, Kelly & Chuck, before becoming The Ty Bentli Show after Kelly Ford exited in 2018.

Bentli’s career has also included stops at CHR and AC stations in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and New York.

Cumulus Media Names Mike Preston Program Director At KPLX, KSCS

Mike Preston

Cumulus Media has named Mike Preston as program director for its Dallas/Fort Worth country radio stations KPLX/99.5 The Wolf and KSCS/New Country 96.3.

Preston most recently served as Sr. VP/Programming for iHeartMedia in Baltimore, Maryland and was Program Director for country station WPOC and Adult Hits station WQSR/102.7 JACK-FM. During his career, Preston has also worked as PD for Entercom country station KKWF/100.7 The Wolf and Rhythmic AC station KHTP/Hot 103.7 in Seattle. Preston has also previously served as senior programmer with CBS Radio in San Francisco and Seattle and served at ABC Radio’s WPLJ in New York.

“These two country brands, each in their own distinctive way, have captured the hearts of DFW country music fans. We believe Mike Preston is the right person to lead our talented teams into the future,” said Dan Bennett, Regional Vice President, Cumulus Dallas-Houston. “Mike has had big success in his career as a creative PD who knows how to coach big time talent. We can’t wait to have him in Dallas to further ignite two of the most listened-to country stations in America.”

Preston added, “I’m honored to be joining Cumulus and taking the helm of these two storied stations. Country music is alive and well in Texas and I can’t thank Dan Bennett, Brian Philips and Bruce Gilbert enough for the chance to work with these amazing brands and their teams.”

CRS: Is 2020 The Year of the Female Artist?

Pictured (L-R): MCA Nashville’s Katie Dean, KRTY’s Nate Deaton, WKLB’s David Corey, Cox Media Group’s Johnny Chiang, Radio Disney’s Kris Daniels

“2020 needs to be the year of the female artist,” said WKLB program director David Corey, one of a few programmers who assembled for a hot-topic panel session titled “All The Singles, Ladies: Breaking Female Artists” as part of Country Radio Seminar on Thursday (Feb. 20).

Katie Dean, Sr. VP/Promotion for MCA Nashville, moderated two panels that centered on female artists and country music. The first panel included Johnny Chiang, Director of Operations for Cox Media Group; Kris Daniels, Sr. Manager of Music Programming for Radio Disney Country; David Corey, Country Brand Manager/PD, WKLB; and Nate Deaton, General Manager for Empire Broadcasting’s KRTY.

“Right now, in the past six months and seeing what’s coming in the next little while, 2020 needs to be the year of the woman, because the music is great,” said Corey.

The female-positive statements come at a time that could possibly be a turning point in the years-long drought of female voices on country radio. According to recently-released statistics from SongData, only 10% of daily song spins on country radio stations in 2019 were performed by women.

However, 2020 is starting off with Maren Morris’ “The Bones” at the top of the country radio charts for a second week. The feat makes “The Bones” the first multi-week No. 1 by a solo female artist since 2012, representing an eight-year gap between multi-week No. 1s by a solo country female.

Currently, there are a total of five songs by female artists in the Top 20 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart, though Morris’ is the only one within the Top 10. Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine” sits at No. 12, while Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope” is at No. 14, followed by Carly Pearce’s (with Lee Brice) “I Hope You’re Happy Now” at No. 15, and Kelsea Ballerini’s “Homecoming Queen?” at No. 19.

All of the panelists shared excitement for their favorite female artists, such as Lauren Alaina, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce and more.

Chiang referenced “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?,” a song UMG Nashville artist Mickey Guyton performed during the UMG Nashville showcase earlier in the day, earning a standing ovation from the radio programmers in attendance.

“I will play that song today,” Chiang said.

“If you’re not playing Ashley McBryde, wake up,” added Deaton, to thunderous applause from the radio crowd.

Deaton offered his perspective on the lack of new female artists on country radio, saying, “I don’t think it’s just a female artist problem, I think it’s a new artist problem,” drawing applause from the audience.

Chiang agreed that part of the reason for the lack of new female artists—and new artists in general—has been that country radio stations are using “the same old playbook that is 50 years old.”

“When the ratings are down, what’s the first thing we do? We cut the playlists, we stop playing new artists, stop playing new songs. We become a jukebox. We are slaves to [the ratings]. That has an impact on new artists/new female artists. That means we’re competing against other radio stations…that might have been the case 30 years ago but now we are competing against DSPs, Amazon music and so on.”

“I personally think caller research is outdated…when you look at social media you can see how people are streaming, look at Shazam, look at Spotify,” Daniels said. “At Radio Disney Country our goal is to play 60-70% female artists. That doesn’t mean if you are a female artist you just automatically get added. These are good songs by good artists.”

Chiang also questioned the amount of airplay time programmers give to certain songs before they turn to the caller research. “Did you really give the song a chance?,” Chiang asked. “You need to give it 500-600 spins at least to get a real take.” Corey added that songs from females often don’t test as well in research with listeners because though the songs are often “most-added” by stations, those songs will then be played in overnights, with lower listener engagement. “A song that’s played 1,000 times is going to test better than one played 100 times,” he said.

Corey also offered his opinion about separate “female-only” programming.

“I think everything needs to be equal. We were talking backstage about some stations that do specialty female-only shows on Sunday afternoons or whatever. I think that works against what we are trying to do here. When everyone starts doing a female specialty show, that’s where you’re hearing them, but nowhere else, so I think they need to be treated [equally]. Not better, obviously not worse, and I think that’s what’s fair.”

Many on the panel stated that they have heard the unwritten “rule” that radio stations should not play two female artists back-to-back their entire career. None of the panelists indicated that they have such a rule and they all stated they don’t agree that “women don’t want to hear women.”

“We’re in the business of playing hits,” Deaton said.

In the second half of the panel, Marion Kraft, CEO for ShopKeeper Management and longtime manager for superstar Miranda Lambert was featured on the day’s second panel, alongside Damon Moberly (VP, Promotion for Mercury Nashville), and Amazon Music’s Emily Cohen.

Cohen noted the number of voice requests for female country artists on Amazon Music (using Alexa) rose nearly 60% between July 2019 and January 2020.

Kraft laid down the gauntlet, challenging radio programmers to try new things. “We need more shepherds and less sheep,” she said, before asking that programmers make a concerted effort to substantially increase the number of female artists they program into their schedules in 2020.

“We do want to be treated better for just this year. Starting next year, you can treat us the same,” she said, adding, “If you guys don’t have these great females females in your format anymore, you guys are going to be really sad. The fan goes where they play the music they want to hear. If you don’t give them what they want, they have [other] places to go now.”

Eric Church Recorded 28 Songs In 28 Days For His Upcoming Project

Pictured (L-R): Lon Helton, Eric Church. Photo: Courtesy AristoMedia

Eric Church revealed that he has been working on new music during an interview with Country Aircheck Publisher/CEO & Host of Westwood One’s Country Countdown USA, Lon Helton at CRS yesterday (Feb. 20).

Church said that following his 2018 Desperate Man album and his 2019 Double Down Tour, he felt the need to push himself further, creatively. He challenged himself to write and record 28 songs in 28 days. Instead of recording his new project at Jay Joyce’s Neon Cross studio in Nashville, Church decamped to Banner Elk, North Carolina, converted a restaurant into a studio, brought out his band and some songwriters and got to writing.

“I felt like it was time to do something nuts,” Church said with a grin. “I would write a song in the morning, we would cut it that night. We removed all the barriers about what people think of the song, and just let it be the most creative thing that day, chase that as hard as you can, and move on. For me, it’s as far out there as I have gotten, creatively. I couldn’t shut it off.”

Pictured (L-R): Lon Helton, Eric Church. Photo: Courtesy AristoMedia

Church talked about a generator—or “genny,” as his crew referred to it—going out and how that inspired the song that he previewed about a girl named, “Jenny.”

“I think by getting that far out there, it really opened up some really great stuff creatively,” Church said. “My antenna was up. Looking back at what came out of it, it was exactly what had to happen.”

Bobby Karl Works The Room: MusicRow Magazine’s CountryBreakout Awards

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry, Smith & Wesley, and MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson. Photo: Steve Lowry


Chapter 642

The faithful flocked to The Listening Room Café on Wednesday morning (Feb. 19) for MusicRow Magazine’s annual radio celebration.

Taking the stage during the two-hour event were such tried-and-true buddies as Ashley Gorley, Bobby Young, Shane Owens and Diane Richey. As always, this event was a mixture of music, schmoozing, breakfast and award presentations.

“Welcome, welcome, to the 18th annual Country Radio Meet & Greet and CountryBreakout Awards,” said MusicRow Magazine owner/publisher Sherod Robertson in greeting the capacity crowd. He reminded the attendees that, “Secondary radio is the heart and soul of contemporary country music.”

The awards are based on the magazine’s CountryBreakout Radio Chart, which largely tracks such stations’ airplay. These broadcasters are relied upon to introduce new talent and offer opportunities to independent artists, as well as major-label acts.

Sherod thanked MusicRow’s reporting panel and the record promoters who work with those stations. He also offered a shout-out to this year’s presenting sponsor, FirstBank.

“FirstBank has been in business since 1906, has $6 billion in assets and ranks in the top 5% of all U.S. banks. We really appreciate our new sponsor this year.” Beaming in the crowd was the institution’s Karen Clark.

Joe Hanson. Photo: Steve Lowry

Sherod then got right down to business by introducing the day’s first performer, Joe Hanson. He has competed on The Voice and American Idol and is now releasing his first tunes.

Joe worked the stage like a pro and exuded sincerity as he dished out a jaunty, three-song set. He concluded with his debut single, the bopping, charming and hooky “Young Got Old,” urging the crowd to sing along with him.

“Thank you guys so much for having me at this incredible event,” said Joe.

“I’m a big fan,” said Sherod. “You’re going to hear that name for quite awhile, I have a feeling.”

Alex Parry (you probably know her as Alex Kobrick, but she’s wearing a ring now, so get used to it) took the stage to preside over the first batch of MusicRow’s 2020 honorees.

“Thank you all so much for being here – so many radio stations and so many artists – and I love working with every one of you,” said Alex. “Our first award is MusicRow’s Independent Artist of the Year, Smith & Wesley.

“They released three singles in 2019, ‘A Little on the Redneck Side,’ ‘To Be With You’ and their current single, ‘Listen to the Radio.’ They accumulated more spins on the MusicRow chart than any other indie act in 2019.”

“We’ve been coming to this event for five years now,” said the duo’s Scott Smith. “So thank you. We couldn’t do it without you guys.

“Our current single is what it’s all about, ‘Listen to the Radio,’” added his brother and partner Todd Smith.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry, KBOE’s Steve Shettler, and MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson. Photo: Steve Lowry

The MusicRow Reporter of the Year honor went to Steve Shettler of KBOE in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Steve exemplifies this chart,” said Alex.

“I’ve done this for 15 years, and it’s so fun to be here for the first time,” said Steve. “I encourage all of you to play independent artists and regional artists. Thank you, MusicRow for all the great hospitality.

Duo/Group of the Year was earned by Old Dominion, who accepted via video, since they are on tour in Canada.

Pictured (L-R): Kiersten Suarez, Ben Kann, Diane Richey, BMLG’s Michelle Kammerer, MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry, and MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson. Photo: Steve Lowry

This year’s Breakout Artist is Riley Green. BMLG’s Michelle Kammerer accepted and passed the mike to independent promoter Diane Richey.

“You guys heard the music and embraced it,” said Diane. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support, all the time.” Riley also sent in an acceptance video.

Sherod re-took the stage to present the Songwriter of the Year honor to Ashley Gorley. This is his third year to win this award.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, Ashley Gorley, and MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry. Photo: Steve Lowry

Ashley had a history-making nine No. 1 hits on the magazine’s chart in 2019. They were “Catch” (Brett Young), “Remember You Young” (Thomas Rhett), “Good Vibes” (Chris Janson), “I Don’t Know About You” (Chris Lane), “Living” (Dierks Bentley), “Rumor” (Lee Brice), “Eyes on You” (Chase Rice), “Love Ain’t” (Eli Young Band) and “What Makes You Country” (Luke Bryan).

“I want to thank MusicRow for all the love they give the songwriting community and Nashville as a whole,” said Ashley.

To no one’s surprise, Luke Combs won the Male Artist award. His manager, Lynn Oliver-Cline, came on stage to accept.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry, and River House Artists’ Lynn Oliver-Cline. Photo: Steve Lowry

“It’s so cool to be here with all of you,” she said. “It’s gone from here (where he was the 2018 Breakout Artist winner) to the stadiums. So thanks to you.” Luke sent in a video thank you as well.

The Label of the Year winner at the event was Capitol Records. This is the imprint’s 16th time to win the honor and its 15th consecutive one. Its eight No. 1 smashes during the year were earned by Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban.

“We’re blessed at Capitol to work with some of the most talented artists in this business,” said the label’s Bobby Young in his acceptance speech. He also brought up Diane Richey’s promotion team.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, Capitol Records Nashville’s Bobby Young, and MusicRow Chart Director Alex Parry. Photo: Steve Lowry

Bobby also accepted on behalf of Female Vocalist winner Carrie Underwood. He read a note she’d written for the occasion. “Thank you to MusicRow and to the entire community,” said Carrie. “I am so proud of all the female artists out there who are doing this for the love of the music.”

The event finale was provided by a sterling show by Shane Owens. “Are y’all ready to get countrified?” he asked the crowd before diving into “Try Them On,” “Country Never Goes Out of Style” and “Hard Luck Girl.”

Shane won the MusicRow Independent Artist of the Year in 2018. His honky-tonk vocal slides were dynamite, and his on-stage warmth was endearing. “God bless country music!” he exclaimed.

Shane Owens. Photo: Steve Lowry

Mingling in the mob were such artists as CJ Solar, Joe & Martina, Dallas Remington, Katlyn Lowe, Jesse Labelle, The Voice winner Chevelle (Chevel Shepherd), Dylan Jacobson, Cody McCarver, Shane Runion and Exile’s Sonny LeMaire, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman.

They had competition in working the room from Becky Harris, Preshias Harris, Ann Chrisman, Anne Sarosdy Yarborough, Jerry Duncan, Teri Brown, Mark Logsdon, Dale Bobo, Steve Lowry, Woody Bomar, Sherrill Blackmon, Dennis Banka, Neal Spielberg, Wayne Halper, Regina Raleigh, Chuck Thompson, Martha Moore, Bev Moser, Derek Beck, Tim McFadden and Beth Gwinn.

On one end of the Listening Room was a generous breakfast bar. On the other end was a backdrop for photo ops. Both stayed busy all morning long.

On The Cover: MusicRow Magazine’s Country Radio Issue Features Sam Hunt

MusicRow Magazine’s 2020 Country Radio Issue, with MCA Nashville artist Sam Hunt gracing the cover, releases today (Feb. 19).

Multi-Platinum-selling, award-winning hitmaker Sam Hunt recently introduced fans to his brand-new song, “Kinfolks.” Leaning on the sentiment of “you can’t make old friends,” Hunt exemplifies the importance of bringing a new relationship into the mix and comfortability of home. “Kinfolks” follows Hunt’s GRAMMY-nominated, triple-Platinum-selling debut album, Montevallo (MCA Nashville), which topped the Billboard Country Albums Chart in its first week; and his three-week No. 1, 6x Platinum-selling, GRAMMY-nominated smash, “Body Like A Back Road.”

Montevallo produced four No. 1 singles and five Platinum and multi-Platinum-selling hits including “Leave the Night On,” “House Party,” “Take Your Time,” “Break Up In A Small Town” and “Make You Miss Me.” Then, Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” release shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart where it remained for an unprecedented 34 consecutive weeks, shattering the record for most weeks atop the nearly 59-year-old chart. “Body Like A Back Road” was also the No. 1 most-streamed and No. 1 most-downloaded country song of 2017, and the No. 3 most-downloaded and Top 25 most-streamed all genre song of 2017.

Called “stylistically provocative” by The New York Times and “deceptively phenomenal” by The Washington Post, Hunt has received accolades from Associated Press, Billboard, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, SPIN Magazine, Village Voice, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more. Since Montevallo’s 2014 release, Hunt has accumulated over 6.85 billion global streams and has earned 22 million RIAA certified units. Hunt’s new album SOUTHSIDE releases April 3.

Hunt is signed with UMPG for publishing, aligned with performing rights organization ASCAP, managed by HOMESTEAD/Red Light Management, and booked by CAA’s Darin Murphy.

MusicRow Magazine’s annual Country Radio Issue also features the winners for this year’s MusicRow CountryBreakout Awards, held Feb. 19 in Nashville.

This issue also spotlights YouTube’s Copeland Isaacson and Margaret Hart, takes an inside look at country radio tours with Trea Landon, highlights playlist creation with WCFT’s Shelly Marx and explores artist-led podcasts such as those launched (or in the works) by Midland, Kelleigh Bannen, Reba McEntire and more.

Single copies of MusicRow’s Country Radio Issue are available for purchase at for $20, and are included with yearly MusicRow memberships.