The Hall Truth, Nothing But
October 3, 2013
Indulge me if you will, for wearing two hats this week.
One as your trusty All Access Nashville Editor; another as a CRS Board Member who chairs the Country Radio Hall of Fame Committee. Technically, that's three hats but hey, who's counting?
Ask me about baseball's playoffs and (except for The Dodgers) I'll say, "Call me when the World Series begins but first, tell me who's playing." Remind me hockey's regular season just kicked off and I'll remind you to remind me when the playoffs commence.
But bring up the Country Radio Hall of Fame and I'm all in, all year.
We (CRS) just announced inductees for 2014 and in case you missed it, A) shame on you and B) here they are again: Larry Wilson, Mike Brophey, Jim Denny and Paul Schadt.
All four will be formally inducted on Tuesday, February 18th in Nashville, on the eve of Country Radio Seminar at the Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner. And 2014 marks somewhat of a milestone, in that it will be the 15th consecutive year the Hall of Fame has been overseen by CRS.
During this time, 53 on-air personalities have been inducted, joining the 50 previously enshrined from 1975-1998. In 2001, CRS created a category recognizing off-air Country radio personnel; since then 25 owners, GMs or programmers have been recognized.
If you've never been to a Hall of Fame Dinner, make it a point to attend. Maybe 2014 is a good place to start. As a CRS Board member since 1999 and a member of the HoF committee since 2007, I have been to all of them and though I admit to being completely biased, the evening is the highlight of CRS week and possibly the feel-good Country industry event of the year.
Each of these events takes on a life of its own, year after year. It's an emotional roller coaster, filled with laughing, crying and with great stories from and about great characters in our format.
In 2007, Big John Trimble took the podium without any apparent notes and while thanking his wife and imploring her to join him onstage said something to the effect of, "Get on up here, 'fore I 'tack you."
I think he meant that as a term of endearment, as in "attack you."
That same year, Bob Moody reeled off one of my favorite-ever lines during his induction, thanking his then-boss, Bill Stakelin for attending, while pointing out Stakelin had shown up "Relatively sober and wearing a clean shirt."
When former WKIS/Miami and WXTU PD Bob McKay was inducted in 2009, I saw the normally gravel-voiced programmer moved to tears when describing what the honor meant to him.
Ditto Chuck Collier in 2009; his emotion-filled speech took on special meaning following his untimely passing in 2011. Likewise, Rusty Walker's 2012 Hall of Fame induction evoked greater and more powerful feelings for all of us when he was felled by a heart attack just two months later.
These kinds of moments for inductees and attendees are truly special. It literally puts deserving radio pros on a stage where they are able to soak in the admiration from the industry and their peers. That's fantastic, because anyone who has worked in radio can verify that it can be, at times, a very unglamorous, unappreciated, sausage-making occupation.
Prior to CRS' involvement, Hall of Fame inductees were honored during opening ceremonies at the Country Radio Seminar. It was also a moment to soak in while among peers, but part of the bigger week at Seminar. The recognition followed the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, a bald eagle flying across the room and an overview of the week's agenda. And going back to its first two years of existence, Hall of Fame Founder Chuck Chellman told me, "The awards were passed out at the Chuck Chellman/Georgia Twitty Radio Golf Tournament in a tent."
There's one other part of the process that goes largely unnoticed and unrecorded -- the notification of inductees. If you've been on the air and ever awarded listeners a cash prize, you can appreciate the feeling. I've had the great fortune of doing both and will tell you, informing a guy (or lady) they've been chosen for the Hall of Fame trumps giving away $10,000 on the air any day.
But there is some recorded evidence of that powerful moment. Watch Chuck Collier's reaction here when told – on the air – that he was selected in 2009.
Or, just this week when Tim McGraw gave WKKT/Charlotte morning personality Paul Schadt the news. Schadt had no idea why McGraw was really calling and like the Hall of Famer he is, proceeded to conduct an eight-minute interview completely focused on Tim, before Schadt's on-air partner Meg Butterly gracefully changed directions. Watch here as the normally unflappable Schadt becomes momentarily devoid of speech.
And now for my parting shot and wearing my CRS hat, for more details about the Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner coming in February, click here.