It began in 1970 with about 60 attendees, but in 1999, over 2,000 country radio broadcasters are descending on Music City this week for the 30th annual Country Radio Seminar. CRS 30 continues a tradition among country broadcasters as one of the radio and country music industry's most important annual events. The four-day conference is designed to bring broadcasters in touch with the country music industry and artists through a schedule of constant activities including educational panels, informal concerts and highlight events including the Super Faces show and the New Faces show. It's a very important meeting for radio, record labels and artists, since radio ultimately decides the careers of country hopefuls by playing or not playing their records.
"Country radio is still the medium that gives the best exposure to country music," noted Radio and
Records country editor Lon Helton to Nashville's The Tennessean newspaper. With that in mind, record labels parade
their artists before the broadcasters in a series of "press the flesh" opportunities, with the goal to acquaint radio personnel
with the acts and their music, planting the seeds for stations across the country to remember them when they return to their
local markets and build their playlists. Perhaps the highlight of the seminar is the New Faces show, where a dozen new artists
will take the stage in an attempt to court the radio stations. It's a formula that works; superstars like Tim McGraw, Vince
Gill and Faith Hill all made their first big splashes with radio at the New Faces show, and it was only a couple of years
ago that LeAnn Rimes brought the normally-jaded crowd to its feet after a rousing rendition of her first hit, "Blue." Artists
appearing on this year's New Faces Show will include Chad Brock, Gil Grand, Great Divide, Keith Harling, Monty Holmes, Allison
Moorer, Mark Nesler, Jon Randall and Trini Triggs.
Part of what CRS provides is the opportunity for broadcasters
and industry executives to forge an open dialogue in the effort to maximize country music exposure to the public. After several
years of unparalleled growth, the popularity of country music and country radio is in some markets levelling off, while in
others it is even beginning to lag. Seminar attendees will closely examine these issues in panel discussions, focus group
studies and roundtable forums. Among the topics that will be covered this year are, "Why are people listening to less country
radio?" "Pay for Play 99" and "Turning Up the Heat: Town Meeting." Other workshops will focus on radio programming and sales
issues, such as "Promotion Idea Fest," "Special Event Marketing" and "Programming Nuts and Bolts." In the end, however, many
country radio broadcasters are country music fans in the same way the public is, and they will enjoy opportunities to test
their country music trivia knowledge, hear keynote speaker Dick Clark, see Tim McGraw perform at the Super Faces show and
attend a Grand Ole Opry performance.
country.com will be on the scene during this year's Country Radio Seminar, so
be sure to check back here to read all about the star-studded, jam-packed event. There will be more about Thursday's keynote
address from Dick Clark, plus a look at some of the panels and a review of the all-important New Faces show. Stay tuned!