10 Questions with ... The Best Of 2015
December 6, 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, All Access Nashville wanted to revisit some of the best and brightest of the past year's "10 Questions With..." answers. We re-read millions of questions and answers - okay, maybe only hundreds - to come up with some of the greatest quotes and standout responses from Country artists, radio pros, recording industry experts, and many more. Looking back, 2015 changed a lot of lives, and we wanted to highlight some of the greatest accomplishments in the industry. From the breakout success of rising stars to the induction of multiple great personnel in to the Country Radio Hall Of Fame, and from the retirement of some of the best in the business to the launch of new, stellar careers - 2015 was a journey. Relive it with us as we revisit The Best Of 2015.
- Premiere Networks syndicated "Tige & Daniel" host Tige Rodgers
Radio teams are like marriages in some ways - tell us how you work things out when you disagree about a bit or how part of the show should be executed?
Tige: Funny you say that because listeners say to us "y'all sound like an old married couple!" I think we really started hitting our stride when we didn't hide our disagreements. There's comedy in conflict, right? One morning we were on air and presented to the listeners: "Today Tige wants to talk about A, Daniel wants to talk about B. What sounds better to you?" The irony is that the best part of that show was the disagreement and listeners taking sides, not the actual topic that was eventually chosen.
- EMI Nashville and CRS 2015 New Faces artist Eric Paslay
Country radio is telling us "She Don't Love You" is a career song for you - did you feel this kind of potential when you finished writing it?
Yeah, when we finished writing that one, I just knew it was one of the best Country songs I have ever been a part of. And I'm just grateful that I somehow got to hold the pen that night and write it. And I'm just so thankful that Country radio is accepting it and hearing it with the ears I was hoping they'd hear it with. They're not just dismissing it as a ballad. The truth is, if you look at a lot of "Songs of the Year," it was always songs with a slow heartbeat that felt a little deeper, I think. Before this one got to the top 50, people were buying it to listen to whenever they wanted, and that's a pretty special feeling for me knowing people really want to hear it. The first time they hear it, it impacts them, and that's a goal as a writer.
- Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye of Dot Records and CRS 2015 New Faces duo Maddie & Tae
Much has been made about the absence of females on Country radio in recent years. In your opinion, what is the key to getting more women integrated back in to Country radio, and how do you think you are playing or will play a role in that?
Maddie: I don't know what the solution is. For Tae and I, we're gonna make the best music we can. We're going to write songs that feel real to who we are - and who the people listening are.
Tae: And musically, we want to have our own sound. Something that stands out when you hear it! We like acoustic instruments, and Country instruments. Dan Huff, our producer, gets that - and maybe that will help.
Maddie: We'd love to help! But we want it to be because our music is good, not just because someone says "We need to play more girls."
- Hill Entertainment Group CEO/Founder Greg Hill
When I talk to younger people wanting to get into the music biz, more and more say, "I'm interested in artist management." What's your advice for them on how to get started?
Life is a people business. Just like it is important for companies to create a culture of who they are, individuals need to establish that as well. You have to enjoy people and enjoy working hard, and you have to be present to win. If you want to be in management, you need to go to where managers are. I have always found experience outside of management helps people in management. I came out of publishing; I have several people who work with me that came off the road, and others from labels. Having a broad view of the industry is important.
- Broken Bow Records Music Group VP/Marketing Mary Forest Findley
We see so many young artists having success building a fan base via social media these days. Can this effort be just as critical as airplay nowadays, or will airplay always be the first priority?
I think you have to go wherever the audience is. You have to get your music in front of as many listeners as possible. Country Radio is the #1 place where folks discover and listen to music. Digital platforms are also incredibly important and will only continue to grow in importance, in my opinion. We need to be everywhere.
- Bristol Broadcasting Country WXBQ/Johnson City, TN PD Bill Hagy, retired in 2015 after 50 years
Today's Country music has so many elements that are outside of the traditional bloodline. I mean, the infusion of Hip-Hop, a lot of Rock has always been a part of it...do you think that long-term this is good for the format?
I do, absolutely. To me, it has always been the strength of the format - the variety aspect. The definition of variety is all these other elements that are on the edges and probably won't make it to the mainstream. The acceptability from the core fan of the format, they'll be a little bit interested and they'll decide yes or no. Sometimes it's no. But yes, all the outside forces are an important element that keeps the music of the format kind of a mass appeal.
- Ben Hayslip, Rhett Akins, and Dallas Davidson, known collectively as songwriting supercell "The Peach Pickers."
About the recent ruling in favor of Marvin Gaye's family in the lawsuit with "Blurred Lines," written by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams that has literally blurred the lines between emulating a sound or style and outright copying a melody, does this now give songwriters pause when working on new music?
Ben: I just think it sucks.
Dallas: The problem with that is, they didn't rip the melody off, they didn't use the idea, it's just kind of a groove. I mean, how many grooves are there? So, you turn on the radio, and every song you hear is a groove that has been done before. So that was a terrible ruling for songwriters.
Rhett: Robert Johnson's great-great-great-great grandkids need to sue every single blues song, because they all sound exactly the same with the same groove.
- Jaren Johnston of Big Machine Records group The Cadillac Three
There are some Rock artists who are crossing over to Country, and there are Country artists who have definite Rock influences in their sound. Do you think the format is becoming more open to that type of edgier sound?
Jaren: I don't know if the format is becoming more open to it, but I do think it's pretty obvious to what's happening around town. For example, last week I was writing with Steven Tyler for his Country record. It's neat to see the way the genre is changing, but also, I feel there's always going to be songs about tailgates, pretty girls, and cold beer. That's just the nature of Country music; and honestly, it needs that. But, it also needs the Eric Churches, The Cadillac Threes, and the Steven Tylers making a cool record. That's what's great about Country music; it's all about the story. It's more open, I think, than a lot of genres, and that's exciting to me.
- Steel City Media Country KBEQ/Kansas City, MO PD/morning man and 2015 Country Radio Hall Of Fame inductee Mike Kennedy
You're part of a rare breed anymore - the personality that has stayed in one market for a long time - the majority of your career. Was there a deliberate decision to "Marry the market" as they say, or did it happen organically?
There was no conscious decision to marry the market. In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd be on the air in Kansas City. No way. I was a small town kid. It was a fluke that I even ended up here. I got canned in Emporia (great story if you ever have five minutes) and accepted a sales position at what is now our CHR in the cluster. That was simply not me. We parted company quickly and Brian Burns gave me the opportunity to join the mighty KXXR as a part timer in 1988. I joined KBEQ in 1991 having absolutely no idea that I'd be here 24+ years later. What I did was make a conscious decision to never be away from my daughter as she was growing up. I was so very lucky to have some incredible opportunities come my way over the years, but there was not one of them that was worth not being within driving distance of my only child. Would that count as organic!?
- 2015 Country Radio Hall Of Fame inductee Sammy George
Country radio. Are you optimistic about its direction? What should the format be doing better to protect its future?
Am I optimistic about its direction? Hell yes, it'll all work out; be cool, let happen what's going to happen. As bad as it seems to some folks, we can't kill it. It's bigger than all of us. Back in the days of the Barn Dance radio was going to die because there were no more live shows, it didn't. Radio stations fired all their studio musicians putting a lot of good flute players out of work, Country nor radio didn't die. Here come the outlaws, they fired Ole Hank, Cash showed his ass and kicked the lights out, then along comes Waylon & Willie, that bunch looked like they ain't bathed in a month of Sundays, lord what's happened to my Country & Western music? There went Mickey Gilley and line dancing went with him, Country's dead for sure now. Florida Georgia Line brings Nelly to the dance hall, hell that's got to be the last straw. Eric Church on a Country awards show playing "That's Damn Rock & Roll." Country takes its twists and turns, not everybody's gonna get it, but I think that's a good thing it allows the format to expand and grow. But you know right now there is a young kid in his room with just a guitar and a God given, raw earthy talent that can knock your socks off with a special twang you ain't heard in years. He or she will steer the format back toward center. George Strait did it, Randy Travis did it, Alan Jackson did it, there's one standing in the wings with that special voice. He will be met by a young Country PD that wants to make waves, and that young man's voice will be heard on Country radio, and the reaction will be "where did that come from, now that's more like it." "Who is the rookie PD that saw that one coming? Give him a corporate job." So for radio to protect its future, it has to keep one eye on the past. You can move the plant, but save the roots; you may need 'em someday.
- iHeartMedia Country WBWL/Boston night guy and CRS 2015 Rusty Walker scholar Colton Bradford
We always ask retiring radio programmers and personalities where they think the next batch of young talent will come from for radio - but let's get your take on this. There has been much made of the fact that not as many young people are interested in radio, no doubt due in part to the advent of social media and many other platforms with which to express those creative and performance sides. Where do you think the next batch of young radio talent will come from, and how can we encourage those in your age bracket and younger to either enter the field or continue in the field?
First of all, I definitely think that there are still young people who are interested in pursuing radio. I get tweets and Facebook messages from other young people all the time who are asking me, "Hey, how did you get your foot in the door?" or "Can you tell me how I can get my foot in the door?" So I know that until that stops, radio is in a good place. Until other young people stop messaging me on Facebook or Twitter asking me for advice on how to get in to radio, I know that we are still in a good place as an industry. But, as far as the next batch of great radio talent, I think? A lot of them are going to come from the internet. The best example of that is [Westwood One nationally syndicated CHR "Zach Sang & The Gang" night host] Zach Sang. Zach is my age - he's 22 years old. And he was huge on the internet before he crossed over to terrestrial radio, and now he's 22 years old and on over 60 stations nationwide. That's a great example of finding a talent and crossing him over to the actual radio industry.
- Times & News Publishing Country WGTY/York, PA PD/morning man Scott Donato
Do you think it's possible to play too many new artists on a station? Will you only play a certain number of new artists to save spots for the superstars? How do you maintain a balance?
For a station like us, one that's independent and can play music, it's always a slippery slope. All of our playlists have grown. But, yes, there IS such a thing as playing too much new music. Though it's becoming harder to do, we want to grow artists. So, we're forced to choose which ones we want to champion.
- Republic Nashville artist Cassadee Pope
When it comes to making friends with radio, did you get a sense when you were on the Pop side that radio guys really cared about establishing relationships with artists? As you know, Country radio really likes the artists and really wants to be connected and make friends, swap cell phone numbers and email address just so they can have that relationship. Did you feel that was as big of a priority in the Pop world?
I didn't, but I was also 18, and I didn't know what I was really supposed to do. We were kids; we had never done anything like that before, and I think they found that endearing. We were excited and looking around wide-eyed; we didn't know what was going on! It was probably partly my fault that I didn't have those relationships with radio, because I really didn't know I was supposed to. Whereas, in Country, if you follow someone like Luke Bryan on Twitter, you know he hangs out with radio and he keeps in touch. That's just common knowledge. So, I knew going in to it, these are my peeps! I've gotta get in with them, and I have made some really good friends out of it. I actually enjoy these people, not just for my benefit. I really love these people! And when a song is successful, it makes it so much better, because it's a friendship that made it happen.
- Reviver Records President/CEO David Ross
You say your goals are to "present records with artistry and radio in mind." What do you say to cynics who believe these two aims are not possible to attain simultaneously?
- NASH Icon artist Ronnie Dunn
When you and Kix broke back in the early 90s, there were no major radio groups as we know of them today. How important is it for you to maintain a relationship with radio. Do you still place a high premium on airplay and on being aligned with it?
I really do. But the playing field has changed so drastically, just in the past three or four years. Five years, more specifically. There has to be a better idea than to do what we've all done for the past 25 years. We obviously can't keep doing and going through the same motions. Social change is taking place, technology, I think music is being consumed in so many different ways than it has in the past. But radio still remains, and it's still the most powerful medium in Country, and in music, period. I don't think we need the same ideas, since we face new challenges to the listeners. Some things are going to have to be changed for it to be successful over the long haul.
- Wheelhouse Records VP/Promotion Teddi Bonadies
You're about to take Granger Smith out to radio in support of his debut single, "Backroad Song." You won't get to everybody - so what should radio know about this guy?
Granger Smith is amazing - but his fan base already knew that. "Backroad Song" sold 32,000 downloads the first week of release. Granger's alter ego, Early Dibbles Jr., has over four million followers - all before Wheelhouse signed him. Granger collaborated with the proven writer and producer Frank Rogers on this project. ALL of this success without the backing of a record label. This is REAL!
- Valory Music Co. artist Brantley Gilbert
Wednesday, September 16th you were a part of "Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute On The River." You're just hours removed from that experience now. Can you tell us a little bit about how that went and share some of your emotions from that show, which was obviously so powerful?
I've got to tell you, I've played a lot of shows, but that one - I've been trying to put words to it all night, to be honest with you. We've texted back and forth talking to [Big Machine Label Group President Scott] Borchetta and [iHeartMedia SVP/Programming] Gator [Harrison of WUSY/Chattanooga], and it's just - we're all still kind of shocked. It was something unlike anything I've ever experienced. There were a lot of emotions going on, of course, but there were also just so many people. Seeing that many people come together for a cause like that is just something I'm passionate about from the word go, anyway. But it was unbelievable, man. It was a God thing. That's what I can write it up as in my book.
- All Access Nashville Editorial Assistant Briana Galluccio
You have one of those really legitimate degrees from a really legitimate school! How did you decide to go from majoring in English at BC to joining this crazy music industry of ours?
My dad would probably tell you a degree in English isn't a real degree. When I was in high school, an amazing English teacher quoted Joseph Campbell, and told us that the way to live a happy life was to "follow your bliss." I've always held that advice close to my heart. I had one of those moments before my senior year of college where I thought, "I am a lost child of the universe." And then an amazing friend reminded me to follow my bliss, and that's how I ended up at WKLB/Boston. I loved it so much there and did what felt like a million informational interviews with people in Nashville in the music industry, and I knew this was the industry for me. I suppose it's not the traditional career path for a BC grad, but my favorite BC alumna Amy Poehler didn't do anything traditionally BC, either.
- Chris Lucas and Preston Brust of Reviver Records duo LoCash
Which of the two of you has better dance moves?
Preston: We're kind of the same with that stuff, too. I mean, we are choreographers from back in the day! We used to do stuff for MTV, VH1.
Chris: But I do have some training, though, I will say that!
Preston: And I don't. And that's the thing I love about what I do, and what I love about what Chris does. It's very different, yet - it's cool like that. When we're on stage, there's no...
Chris: We used to get chicks from our dance moves! Sometimes we'd just dance, and they didn't even know we sang. Girls would be like, "You don't even have to sing. Just shake your butts." And we're like, this is easy!
Preston: It wasn't as accepted at that time, though, but now Luke [Bryan] shakes his thing, and so it's accepted!
Chris: Maybe we should just see who shakes it best! A shake-off! I'm going to tell you, though; we're going to win a shake off. We're just going to win it!
Preston: Sorry, Luke! But we'll win that!
- MCA Nashville and CRS 2015 New Faces artist Sam Hunt
Lyrically your songs are very Country, but the production seems to have a lot of different influences. Some may see it as "pushing the envelope," but it's clearly working. How much farther do you feel your music can be pushed, or do you feel like your music will always follow a similar pattern to what you have out now?
It was never my intention to push any boundaries. I don't even know that I'm aware of what the boundaries are and how strict or broad they are. When I was making this record I wasn't thinking about that at all. I just got in the studio and just worked and did what felt right. In the future I'll follow the same program, and I won't really think about boundaries or what risks we might be taking when we sit down and make the music. - MCA Nashville and CRS 2015 New Faces artist Sam Hunt