It was a humble rather than the usual wise-cracking Vince Gill who accepted a career-achievement award from Country Radio Broadcasters Tuesday evening (Feb. 18) at the Nashville Convention Center.
The occasion was the annual banquet to honor new inductees into the Country Radio Hall of Fame. It, in turn, kicks off Country Radio Seminar, which this year runs from Wednesday through Friday (Feb. 19-21).
“What I want to share with you,” Gill told the celebrants, “is gratefulness for all you did for a kid.”
Now 56, Gill explained that 40 years ago, when he was still in high school in Oklahoma, he made a record in the hope of getting his music heard.
“Some radio stations where I grew up were kind enough to play that record,” Gill continued. “What that did was give me hope.”
He said he could still “drive you to the spot” where he first heard his music on the radio. It was an exciting experience, he noted.
“And 40 years later, I still feel the same way,” he said.
Gill admitted that fortunes at radio have ebbed and flowed over the years, but he emphasized to the audience of decision-makers that he still considers himself radio-worthy and at the top of his game as a musician.
“I promise you, I’m going to keep beating on your door,” he said.
Crowell said he and Harris first met Gill in 1976 when Gill was appearing at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles.
“He was singing like a bird,” Crowell recalled — and singing one of Crowell’s songs.
“Hasn’t he done well?” Harris cracked.
And he has, of course. Both he and Harris are now members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Gill has accumulated 20 Grammy awards to keep him warm while radio is deciding whether or not to play him.
Gill’s award was the most prominent among six handed out during the banquet.
Alison Krauss inducted radio personality Jim Denny, in whose Classified Grass bluegrass band she began playing fiddle when she was 12.
Remembering his off-air impersonations of himself as a DJ, Krauss said, “We thought he was the funniest guy we ever met.”
Denny hosts the morning show on WFMS in Indianapolis.
Also welcomed into the Country Radio Hall of Fame were Mike Brophey, program director of WKLB/Boston; Paul Schadt, longtime air personality at WKKT/Charlotte, N.C.; and Larry Wilson, co-founder of Citadel Communications and currently head of L&L Broadcasting.
Ed Hardy, veteran radio and television executive and now board chairman of the Country Music Association, was honored with the CRB’s president’s award.