An absentee Glen Campbell was accorded the Country Radio Broadcasters’ career achievement award Tuesday evening (Feb. 21) at ceremonies held at the Nashville Convention Center. Six new members were also inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame during the dinner.
The event opened the annual Country Radio Seminar, a gathering of radio programmers and on-air personalities. CRS concludes Friday (Feb. 24) with the New Faces Show spotlighting live performances by Hunter Hayes, David Nail, Sunny Sweeney, Thompson Square and the Eli Young Band.
This year’s Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees included Beverlee Brannigan, operations manager and director of country programming for KFDI/Wichita, Kan.; Ron Rogers, former president and general manager of KVET and KASE/Austin, Texas, and programming consultant Rusty Walker. Also inducted were WSM-AM/Nashville personality Eddie Stubbs, WSM-AM Nashville, syndicated morning show host Moby and veteran disc jockey, songwriter and comedy writer Bill Whyte.
Although Campbell, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease, was not present to accept his award, there were many other artists in the audience, including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Country Music Hall of Famer Kitty Wells, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Mark Collie, Radney Foster, Jerrod Niemann, Deborah Allen, Linda Davis and the Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban.
CRB’s president’s award was conferred on Bob Kingsley, former host of American Country Countdown and now the voice of Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40.
Unlike previous induction ceremonies, this one featured no live music.
Campbell’s induction consisted of a slide show and a videotaped tribute from Keith Urban, who thanked the star “for blazing such a trail for guitar-slinging singers in this town.” Urban concluded his segment by singing “Wichita Lineman,” Campbell’s signature Jimmy Webb-penned hit from 1968.
Talent manager T. K. Kimbrell accepted Campbell’s award. He said he had spoken with Campbell and his wife, Kim, a day earlier.
“It’s perfect timing,” Kimbrell said of the award, “because Glen can still understand what an honor it is.”
For the other honorees, it was an evening of nostalgia. All spoke at length (the event lasted for just under two and a-half hours) about the circumstances that led them into radio and detailed how their careers flourished.
Kingsley talked of his love for songwriters and recalled hearing songwriter Craig Wiseman sing the song that would become one of Tim McGraw’s biggest hits, the Grammy-winning “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Sounding the itinerant theme that the other inductees would follow, Brannigan noted she has worked for 19 different general managers of radio stations since she launched her career in 1976.
Singers Linda Davis and Lang Scott — who are also the parents of Lady A’s Hillary Scott — inducted their friend and frequent picking buddy Whyte.
As part of their presentation they showed a graphic that resembled the cover of Lady A’s Need You Now album. However, the faces superimposed on those young bodies were those of Davis, Scott and Whyte, and they were prominently identified as “Lady Grannybellum.”
Whyte told of how he had booked singer-songwriter Bruce Robison to appear on his WSM radio show the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked.
He said he was watching the tragedy unfold on TV as Robison was getting his guitar out of its case. When he drew Robison’s attention to the TV, Whyte said, Robison “packed up his guitar and left” without saying a word.
Marty Stuart inducted Stubbs, whose somber and cadaverous appearance caused Stuart to refer to him good-humoredly as “the country music undertaker.”
He said he first met Stubbs 35 years ago when he — Stuart — was playing in Lester Flatt’s band. Stubbs, who would later go on to fiddle with the Johnson Mountain Boys, was even then an avid bluegrass fan.
Stuart read an entry from the journal he kept at the time in which he pegged Stubbs as the type that alphabetized, color-coded and annotated every record he had.
“What I’m trying to tell you, ladies and gentlemen,” Stuart continued, “is that he’s crazy as a bat.”
Stuart said he “fell in love” with Stubbs as a disc jockey when he listened to tapes of the show Stubbs was then hosting on public radio station WAMU in Washington, D.C.
“He embraced our legacy,” Stuart asserted. “He embraced our heart and soul.”
“That’s a lot to live up to,” Stubbs responded when he came to the stage. Noting that he will have been with WSM for 17 years in March, he credited Kitty Wells and her late husband, Johnnie Wright, for bringing him to Nashville, initially as a member of their band.
The crowd rose to its feet as one when Stubbs pointed out that Wells was there in the audience to witness his induction.
Legendary entertainment lawyer Joel Katz inducted Moby, whose real name is James Carney.
Moby related the circuitous route by which he progressed from country to rock and back again to country as a DJ, and he proclaimed (as did most of the others) that he was unworthy of the distinction he had just received.
“It’s the Academy Award of country broadcasting,” he intoned as he held his plaque.