10 Questions with ... The Very Best Of CRS 2016
February 14, 2016
Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2016 just wrapped up, and already the buzz is building around CRS 2017. Known for informative panel sessions, killer live music performances, the ability to get one-on-one time with artists, the best networking opportunity of the year, and more alcohol consumption than seems humanly possible - CRS has come to be THE spot for Country radio, records, and artists to converge. As if All Access Nashville wasn't busy enough during CRS, this year we decided to take on a new project - gathering feedback from attendees during and after the seminar. With a new home at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville and a new set of dates, CRS 2016 seemed like the perfect time to kick off this new series: "The Very Best Of CRS." Below are takeaways from industry friends who experienced it firsthand. Some were first time attendees, and many have been coming for years. We let them share, in their own words, what they most enjoyed about CRS 2016 and why you should make plans to attend CRS 2017.
1. WOGI/Pittsburgh PD Dave Anthony:
"It's been really good. We had a chance to catch up with some people that we haven't seen in quite a long time; people that I used to work with. Also, artists that I haven't seen in a while, like some of the older artists. Also some of the newer artists, too, but you get to see them in a little bit of a different situation. Of course, some of the shows that are happening the Ryman Auditorium, both with Sam Hunt and the afternoon [Team UMG at the Ryman Luncheon] show; they were great. It's been a great experience. I've learned a few things, different ways to look at some things, from some of the sessions. The talent session was very good: understanding the mentality of your air talent and how people are, because everyone always wants to win. It's been a really good experience."
2. MCA Nashville VP/Promotion Katie Dean:
"Not sure if it counts as a panel - and I'm certainly biased - but the Team UMG lunch at the Ryman is always the highlight of the seminar for me. All that amazing talent in that venue, and every year I can't wait to see who steals the show! I really enjoyed the Women's Mentoring Breakfast, as well. A great cross section of experience in the room getting a chance to interact with some of the up-and-comers in our industry was very rewarding. CRS is absolutely the best opportunity to learn, network, and see the future superstars of the format."
3. SiriusXM Sr. Dir./Country Programming JR Schumann:
"I didn't necessarily have a 'favorite' panel. I do think the content this year was exceptional. In the decade or so that I've been attending CRS, this was one of the first times that I truly felt there was something for everyone. I definitely heard more 'F-Bombs' this year! I think that, in and of itself, is a testament to how relaxed the panelists were...which made for great discussions and content! I have said this every year - CRS has been one of the single most beneficial investments I've ever made into my career. If you do nothing else, come to CRS. Period."
4. WXTU/Philadelphia ADP Mark Razz:
"Don't get in any vans. But actually, pace yourself, and try to get as much education and career advice as you can."
5. KXKT/Omaha MD Hoss Michaels:
"My favorite panel was the Edison Research panel. I think it's crucial to always be in conversation with your listeners. Sometimes we get buried in 'work' and need to realize that we are friends to listeners. And as a friend - that means we don't just talk, but we listen to hear what is important in their lives. Don't wait - make plans now for CRS 2017. Work with your GM or Market Manager, and tell them it's a priority. The panels are certainly worthwhile to take back so many great nuggets to help you, personally, and your station to be better. And once you get to CRS - remember, it's a marathon and not a sprint. Be open to learn new things...be open to meet new people. Use your ears, and soak up as much as you can. Take notes at the end of each day so you can remember all the wisdom that was swirling around you. Some of the suggestions you hear might work, others might be a miss. Just be willing to listen and love this music in a way you might not expect. And as for the music, I was moved by Darius Rucker's performance at the [Team UMG Luncheon at the] Ryman. You could feel his passion as he sang. And how about Eric Paslay doing the Moonwalk on the Ryman stage?! Is that the first time that's ever happened? It was great to see his continued growth."
6. BBR Music Group VP/Marketing JoJamie Hahr:
"My advice to someone coming in 2017 is to really take advantage of every panel they can. I'm a self-proclaimed geek in this business who loves to sit up front and take notes and talk to panelists. I think that has been key in my growth throughout the years, and this year was no different!"
7. Townsquare Media nationally syndicated "Taste Of Country Nights" Host Sam Alex:
"One of my favorite sessions was What YOU Want To Know About Digital And Social. All of the panelists agreed, 'Don't overthink it, just post it.'"
8. WCYQ/Knoxville morning show host Krisha Brook:
"Be open to everything, even if it's a panel that you're like, 'that doesn't even pertain to me.' Go anyway, because there are so many people with so much knowledge, that you'll gain it no matter what."
9. McCoy & Associates owner Sharla McCoy:
"My CRS experience has been mind-blowing. It's been wonderful. I love the new location, and I love the panels - especially the women's breakfast. My advice is show up early, and be prepared to do nothing but come to panels and see the showcases. Take lots of vitamins, and get here early. There's so much to learn. Don't come without a notebook or an iPad to take notes on. Bring business cards. It's the place to be. And thank you to Bill Mayne and the entire staff. They knocked it out of the park this year. They've worked endlessly and tirelessly, and they did a great job."
10. KRWQ/Medford, OR PD/morning personality - and CRS 2016 Rusty Walker Scholar - Ashley Greninger:
"Bring a lot of business cards. Network like crazy! Emergen-C is a must - it'll start your day after you've managed to have a quick nap in the middle of the night. You'll be so exhausted, and your feet will want to fall off. But don't let that stop you from saying yes to events and panels. Some of the best moments happen when you least expect them, like Sam Hunt walking out of the Ryman directly into your path. You won't sleep. And that's okay, because at some point, you'll get on a plane and sleep there. I came here by myself not really sure if I would know anyone. I'm leaving with new friends, magical moments, and an experience I will never forget. I was treated like family, and I will definitely be back next year - even if that means maxing out a credit card. Hands down, this was the best experience of my life ... I feel so rejuvenated and as if someone lit a fire under me. As much as I am not ready to return to reality, I am very excited to return to my team and continue growing our brand within the station. Thank you for choosing me as a Rusty Walker Scholar. I am truly blessed."
11. Radio Advertising Bureau SVP/Marketing & Communications Leah Kamon:
"Where to even begin? I loved the Women In The Industry panel. I thought we really spoke well to issues and trends facing women and the business, so that was really terrific. I loved the Edison Research panel, looking at what is happening from a listening perspective. That was really insightful, so I'm sure a lot of stations have a lot to take home. CRS is your one-stop-shop to come learn about what's happening in Country radio and the format. Nowhere else do you get as inside a look complete with a lot of fun, a lot of education, and a lot of networking opportunities. It really is a must-attend for anyone in the format, or for anyone else who wants to learn about the format."
12. Neil Wilson Voiceovers owner Neil Wilson:
I really enjoyed the Put Me In Coach panel. Oddly enough, as an imaging guy, it's nice to be able to take a look on the other side of the talent spectrum and see how that works out. Barry Switzer was kind of cool, too. I find that at CRS, I see a lot more local decision makers. From my perspective as a voice guy, that's who I want to connect with. It's really about building those personal relationships and personal connection with guys on the local level. Not just guys on the corporate tier, the Dons of radio companies, but these local-level guys. It's really great to meet them and interact with them."
13. Nashville Radio Syndication, Inc.'s Michelle Jasko:
"My favorite part is networking, and getting to see people I don't get to see all year that I talk to on the phone - getting to put a face to the voice. And then this year, we brought back the Women Mentoring Breakfast and the Women In The Industry panel, and I thought that was really helpful, for particularly the young ladies coming up, and I'd like to see that continue. I would say CRS is an important place to be. My very first CRS, I was a PD at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and I couldn't get my company to pay for me. I paid for myself initially, and I think it's worth investing in yourself. It opened a lot of doors for me, and a lot of connections, a great education, and a heck of a good time. I'd say hopefully the companies are supporting their employees, but if they're not, and you really need to dig out of your own pocket, I think it's something that is worthwhile to do."
14. WKLB/Boston APD/MD Ginny Rogers:
"High Valley in the Warner Brothers' suite for a breakfast hang and live music was a great way to start the day before heading to the panels. Their music is so fresh and exciting."
15. WWQM/Madison PD Fletcher Keyes:
"Tucker Beathard impressed me a lot, being twenty and playing SOLO in front of hundreds of overly critical radio people - and despite that, sounding great while sharing feelings of vulnerability."
16. KNTY/Sacramento MD Mike Allen:
"I really enjoyed the Edison Research panel. If you listen to a lot of people, terrestrial radio is already dead, and in the next decade will be gone forever. However, it was great to see there is hope for radio, because there is something it can offer listeners that no other medium can. We can get involved in our communities, we can be the friend that keeps our listeners company doing whatever they are doing, and we are the ones that can help keep them informed when they need to be. Radio is a powerful tool, and we just need to make sure we use that tool correctly, and we will win."
17. KYCK/Grand Forks, ND PD/BM/Mornings Shotgun Jackson:
"CRS is a once in a lifetime opportunity every 15 minutes! I still get chills thinking about Darius Rucker's extremely moving live performance at the Ryman. Breathtaking!"
18. WTHI/Terre Haute, IN PD Eric Michaels:
"I made a point to attend more panels and sessions than I had in years past. I made it to two of the three Programmers Boot Camp series panels and learned some new ways to write and produce imaging that I had not previously thought of, new ways to grab the attention of the listener and hook them in to receive the main part of your message. I also attended the prep session, as well. It was great to re-emphasize how important it is to prep on an almost constant basis, and that the best show prep and inspiration for your show is just looking at what is around you. I really enjoyed the Edison Research panel, as well. I thought Edison did a fantastic job showing us how the listener really reacts to us and what they expect from broadcast radio. I also enjoyed seeing how engaged the stations were with the community and how we all did a little different but had the same positive results with our listeners. I liked how they profiled a large, medium, and small market so we could see the differences. I was also really excited to hear some new music this year. Chris Stapleton continues to impress. I think now that we've embraced him, his star power will continue to grow. I also really enjoyed what I heard from Drake White at the BMLG lunch. I have not yet had the chance to see Chris Janson in concert, but I really enjoyed his performance at the New Faces Show. Really seems like an artist that leaves it all out there for his audience, regardless if it's his stage performance or the content of his songs - he sings about real life! As for advice, I'd say to plan ahead, make your agenda, and stick to it. It's easy to get distracted by several different things and not attend the sessions. Find the session you want to go to and do them - the CRB does a great job developing the panels and giving us the opportunity to better ourselves. However, use the opportunity as well to network and meet people, because some of the best things you could learn could be from your peers that face the same challenges that you do at your station. My last piece of advice for newbies is...stay hydrated!"
19. The Mix Group owner Jason Garte:
"Favorite panel for me - even though I spoke on the Imaging pane, and I love talking shop - had to be the Tim McGraw panel. Just loved the deeper insight into him and his life, and the deeper meanings of the records. I'm a huge fan, so it was a real highlight moment, as I imagine it was for the droves of people who packed the room. And, I gotta tell you, when Chris Janson sang 'Holdin' Her,' I didn't know what to do with myself. It was the most emotionally captivating performance of CRS and New Faces. The passion; the emotion. It was just strong...and his back story. He's definitely up next. We also had some crazy, fun times and a couple hundred laughs at Bar lines. I remember Tuesday night we weren't feeling much pain, and I found myself talking to a guy, and I asked him, 'What do you do?' He told me, 'I'm a song writer.' I was like, 'Oh, that's cool - give me a record you've done that I might know.' He's like, 'Live Like You Were Dying' ... My mouth slammed to the floor. It was Tim Nichols! If you haven't been to CRS bfore, there has never been a better time to do it. The Omni is a fantastic new venue for this legendary must-attend yearly event. It's a bit of learning, a good deal of socializing and networking, a lot of music, and even more drinking. It's a great time, and we're so happy to be a part of it all. Can't wait for 2017."