Country Radio Broadcasters, the trade association that produces the annual Country Radio Seminar, presented the Judds its 2011 career achievement award Tuesday evening (March 1) at the Nashville Convention Center.
Honored also during the two-hour ceremony were broadcasting executives and/or on-air personalities Dale Carter, Barry Kent, Lee Rogers, Charlie Cook, Bill Payne and the late Dene Hallam, all of whom were inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Joe Galante, former head of Sony Music Nashville and the man who signed the Judds to their first contract with RCA Records, was presented the CRB’s President’s Award.
Still flirtatious and wisecracking, Naomi Judd and her daughter, Wynonna, took the stage to accept their award and recall their long and fruitful association with radio figures.
“Our whole lives have been about friendships,” said Naomi, who noted she was “38 years old with two scared kids” when she came to RCA in 1983. That year also marked the release of the Judds first single, “Had a Dream (For the Heart).”
Between then and 1991, when Naomi withdrew from performing because of illness, the Judds scored 14 No. 1 singles, won four Grammys and sold millions of albums. They also became a top touring act.
“I’ve known about everybody in this room since I was 18 years old,” said Wynonna.
“You all literally allowed her to fulfill her destiny,” Naomi chimed in.
“One of my goals this year,” continued Wynonna, who recorded and toured as a solo act after Naomi’s first retirement, “is to get back on country radio.”
Since Naomi’s recovery from hepatitis C, she and Wynonna have reunited to tour intermittently. They are currently on their Last Encore tour.
In years past, prominent artists serenaded the career achievement winners with a medley of their hits. But there was no live music at this year’s ceremony.
Galante, who spent 39 years — from 1971 until 2010 — with RCA Records and its successors, was cited for his “significant contributions to Country Radio Seminar.”
He told of attending his first CRS in 1976 and being harangued by one of the event’s organizers for hanging out in the bar with disc jockeys instead of attending the formal educational sessions.
Except for Hallam, who died in 2009, the Hall of Fame recipients remain active in radio. Carter is program director and morning show co-host at KFKF in Kansas City, Mo. Kent is operations manager of WTHI and WWVR in Terre Haute, Ind., and host of WTHI’s morning show.
Rogers is operations manager and morning show host at KUPL in Portland, Ore. Cook is a consultant for West Virginia Radio Corp. and last year’s winner of the CRB’s President’s Award. Payne owns and oversees five country radio stations in Oklahoma.
At the time of his death, Hallam was program director for the Moby in the Morning syndicated radio show in Atlanta.
Carter told the crowd he hopes the Country Radio Hall of Fame plaques, which now hang in the Nashville Convention Center, will eventually be considered sufficiently meritorious to be displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.