WSM-AM/Nashville Cuts Staff

Gaylord Entertainment officials insist that WSM-AM — home of the Grand Ole Opry — will remain a country station despite a round of firings that include program director and operations manager Kyle Cantell. Cantrell, a 20-year station veteran who has served as an Opry announcer, is one of eight employees dismissed Tuesday (Jan. 8). Others leaving the station include disc jockeys Matthew Gillian, Johnny Koval and Allen Dennis. Gaylord officials say that the changes were made as the station seeks ways to increase its listenership. WSM-AM’s current Arbitron ratings remain the lowest of Nashville’s four country stations. In late 2001, Gaylord executives considered several options — including a format change — to increase WSM-AM’s ratings. The latest dismissals came almost one year to the day that Gaylord chief executive office Colin Reed announced the company’s commitment to retain the station’s country format. 1/8/03