How Long Gone (Are You Gonna Be)?
October 24, 2013
For anybody asking-- and trust me, everybody has -- that’s basically been Ronnie Dunn’s response to last week’s open letter here. In other words, nuthin’.
I find that surprising and disappointing.
Surprising because I know Ronnie pays attention. And he’s remained steadfast in his beliefs about radio and the music industry during the past seven days, evidenced by his continued presence on social media and his all-over-the-map post from Tuesday, October 22nd.
In it, he mentioned Clear Channel (again), Clay Hunnicutt (again), Big D & Bubba, Gerry House (firsts for both), streaming, royalty payments, Warner Brothers and Clear Channel’s (again) “national playlist,” (his words).
Wow. One post, eight topics.
Speaking of Big D & Bubba, Dunn appeared on their show Wednesday (10/23) and briefly discussed the music industry. During the interview, Dunn reiterated what he’d earlier said on his Facebook page, that a longtime label friend warned him that by getting in the record business, “You’re about to get your hands dirty.”
Big D & Bubba pressed him (sort of) by asking, “What does that mean?” But Dunn refused to elaborate, saying instead, “I don’t know, we’ll talk about that off the air ... in court, I don’t know.” Rather than pursue the point further, however, the guys let Dunn off the hook, as he drifted onto the world of corporate and conglomerate radio, comparing it to centralized government saying, “It just doesn’t work.”
My disappointment in Dunn’s non-reply is two-fold. First and foremost, I still believe he’s covering a lot of inside-the-industry beefs in front of the wrong audience, the fans. That includes his stint on Big D & Bubba and their large network of listeners. I guess that’s a comfort zone for Ronnie because clearly he has a lot of fans willing to give him unconditional support. And his Facebook fan base is growing. His total number of likes has grown from 176,161 to 181,312 in the pasts seven days.
Good for him.
But he’s preaching to the choir. His own, self-generated choir, who are willing to take at face value his mostly wild claims without any real comprehension of either the radio or the music industries. He’s creating his own narrative and as I said last week, appears unwilling to address the audience who could and maybe should hear -- and help -- him out. Because sift through the crazy here and see that he actually makes some valid points. His delivery system however, is drowning out most of that.
But the longer he waits, the less interested many will be. That said, my offer stands: If Ronnie Dunn wants this column space next week, he’s got it. But only for another week and then, he’s on his own. After that, I’ll employ a philosophy taught to me by the incomparable, late Rusty Walker: F.I.D.O.
Anybody who knew Rusty or was ever his client knows what that means.
There is a bit of levity to all this however -- some of the responses to last week’s letter, which I just have to share.
A couple of readers suggested Cumulus refuses to play Ronnie Dunn music; even Brooks & Dunn songs. Here’s one of the vents:
“I'm going to look into this Clear Channel National Playlist! Surely not ... not after what he came on here and said? You won't see Cumulus stations playing Ronnie Dunn or hardly any Brooks & Dunn song with Ronnie singing lead now that Mr. Brooks is on every single one of their Country stations overnight. Kix got in where he needed to be to sustain his career, just so happens that keeps Ronnie out.”
I wouldn’t touch that one, but none other than Kix Brooks responded:
“What in Hell are you talking about -- Ronnie is no way blackballed! We feature B & D on my shows all the time, like last week for instance and Ronnie gets played as well -- yes! He does! I don't program Cumulus Network obviously, and can't tell you what adds he gets, but it has nothing to do with me doing a radio show for them -- careful what you say there, pal! This is the kind of crap I'm tired of seeing!”
Another reply accused me of “Coming off as a punk and stooge to Clear Channel. Nice legacy, Buck Owens is spinning in his grave.”
Hey, I don't have a dog in this hunt. If you read through the content on Ronnie's FB page (as I have), you'll see that CC is his most common target. EVP Clay Hunnicutt, the company as an example of "conglomerate radio" and his glorification of Jerry Del Colliano's negative coverage of CC. It's a constant theme and one he owns, not me.
Additionally, not that Buck Owens is in any way germane to this conversation, but since you brought it up: I maintained a positive and lasting friendship with Buck Owens after I left KNIX and up until his passing. He always expressed support and encouragement for my career choices, which is why I feel quite confident he continues to rest in peace.
Aaaaand then there was this:
“I'm appalled that you, Mr. Curtis, would make such disparaging remarks about Ronnie Dunn using the format that you did. Ronnie Dunn speaks the truth and how he does it is his business. If you had a grievance with Ronnie Dunn, you could have joined the conversation on Facebook and talked to him face-to-face in a manner of speaking instead of publicly dissing him.”
(Insert loud, annoying game show buzzer for incorrect answer here)
Hmmmm .. What part of “Say it here, to a targeted, attentive audience” didn’t you understand? Yea, I guess how he expresses himself IS his business, but if he’s going to make – to borrow your term -- “disparaging remarks” about the radio and label business, he should say to people IN those businesses.
PS: I didn’t “dis” Dunn, nor did I address him “publicly.” All Access is an industry, peer-to-peer site. You have a nice day now!