Country Music Hall of Fame to Offer Radio Programming to Listeners Coast to Coast

Even as it documents country music’s past, the new Country Music Hall of Fame will take a step into the future by partnering with Washington, D.C.-based XM Satellite Radio, a digital programming service.

The new Country Music Hall of Fame, opening in downtown Nashville next year, will include a glass-enclosed digital radio studio. XM, set to launch a radio satellite in November, will broadcast daily from the site.

Consumers who own radios with special antennas will be able to pick up the signal. Broadcasts from the Hall of Fame will be part of a larger network of up to 100 satellite channels, running 24 hours a day and offering a broad range of music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children’s programming.

Set to go on the air when the Hall of Fame opens in May, XM will offer everything from live visits and performances by country music artists to music culled from the collection of 200,000 sound recordings in the Hall of Fame’s vaults. Listeners also will be part of museum-related events such as exhibit openings and donation ceremonies, and they will learn about upcoming attractions. One program being discussed, The Country Music Hall of Fame Hour, will feature profiles of country music legends, complete with rare, archival recordings.

Artists who appear on the radio broadcasts will be visible to museum visitors through the glass walls of the studio, and Hall of Fame chief Kyle Young predicts that the exposure could lead to some interaction between artists and fans. “Our research tells us that tourists expect to see artists when they come to town,” Young says. “Live radio will enhance the overall museum experience.”

Satellite radio will begin to become widely available during the first part of 2001. Car manufacturers will equip some models with radios, and receivers, costing about $150 a unit to begin with, will come from big manufacturers such as Pioneer and Sony.

Listeners will pay a monthly subscription fee, $9.95, to receive the full range of XM Satellite Radio’s commercial-free programming. XM also has signed agreements with USA Today, Black Entertainment Television and CNN/Sports Illustrated, among others.

A competing programming company, Sirius Satellite Radio, also has been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to deliver radio service via satellite. Sirius has launched the first of its radio satellites.

XM will deliver six stations related to country, with specialties ranging from classic country to Americana. Drawing on its diverse collection of sound recordings, the Hall of Fame will have a presence on each one, Young says.

“This growing collection includes some of the most important music in America,” Young feels. “Our goal is not only to preserve it, but to give it life and meaning by making it accessible to the largest possible audience.”