We Get Letters
March 19, 2015
Two weeks ago, I shared some CRS 2015 feedback, gathered from multiple conversations with radio attendees and personal experience from my 31st consecutive Country Radio Seminar.
This week, some feedback regarding my feedback.
JVC Broadcasting WJVC/Nassau-Suffolk PD Phathead wrote with several thoughts about CRS, beginning with comments about the much-discussed, 18-34 demo, which was the topic of the "Gen-Setters" panel on Thursday, February 26th.
"The 18-34 demo is the target and the correct focus of Country music for a guy like me," Phathead wrote. "They crave new acts, new music, and want to get in on the ground floor (specifically the 18-24). That helps a company like mine do all the concerts we do (15-20 per year). If I'm not developing new acts all the time, I have no artists to put on a show that anyone cares about."
And, regarding his point about a younger Country target, Phathead continued: "Tell the CRS [agenda] committee to make a panel next year where the actual panel is made up of regular 18-34-year-old listeners. Put out a casting call for Country music lovers in that age range to apply to be on the panel so we don't hear what PDs and professionals have to say about that demo. Let's hear it straight from the demo itself!"
And he wasn't finished with ideas for CRS 2016 Agenda. "Another panel idea for next year: It should be called '2015: The return of the female.' Put Mickey Guyton, Cam, Jana Kramer, Ashley Monroe, Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie & Tae, RaeLynn (and if they come out with hit songs … Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Lauren Alaina) and others! I think we are going to have more female hit songs this year than we have had in a very long time!"
And, Phathead had this observation about the New Faces Show and Dinner. "Love New Faces every year, but that dinner setting is not the best for most rockin' current artists. They need to add a T-thrust to the stage and put real fans in a pit like an awards show. Let the CRS attendees see what type of show these acts really put on."
Thanks Phathead -- love the ideas and the enthusiasm for CRS. I already passed on all your ideas to the staff at CRS so be careful what you wish for -- you might be recruited to serve on the agenda committee for CRS 2016!
While not wishing to be ID'd, some considered my random thought about the Sony boat too harsh. I said special guest Cheap Trick was perhaps the only musical takeaway that evening, drowning out some of the night's other, stellar performances, specifically Tyler Farr, Cam and Josh Dorr.
Though my mention of the boat was technically not a review, numbering just three lines and 71 total words, a mea culpa is probably in order. I had previously written that Yearwood's "I Remember You" ranks with some of her best-ever vocal performances -- which is to say, most of them. Also, Trisha's take on "Blue Bayou" would make Linda Ronstadt proud, not to mention the late Roy Orbison, who co-wrote and originally recorded the song. Additionally, "What We Ain't Got" should probably be considered a "Song of the Year" candidate in my opinion, and similar to his performance on 2011's "Alone With You" shows Owen's underrated vocal chops and versatility. I mean, this serious, sobering ballad is from the same guy who gave us last summer's polar opposite mega-hit, "Beachin'."
My mental state on the boat that night state was questioned, due to these glaring omissions. For the record, I adhered to my longstanding, two-drink maximum policy when it comes to industry functions but on this night I was perhaps guilty of L.O.P. -- Leaving Out Praise.
Finally, I had an experience on the last night of CRS that left me both inspired and encouraged about the seminar's future -- and radio's too. We've talked in this column how getting young, college-aged students excited about radio is one of our biggest challenges in terms of talent development. Well, after the New Faces show this year, I met four students who had served as volunteers for CRS 2015: Grace Lenehan, Ashley Gunnells, Janelle Flint and Ashley Doris.
They were part of a 10-person, social media team deployed during CRS to Facebook, Tweet and Instagram the experience, minute by minute. If you saw the video wall in the main meeting room that week, you saw part of their handiwork.
These four young ladies each paid their own way to Nashville to see what CRS was all about. Three are 21 years old, one is 20. All were beyond excited about getting into this business, with interests ranging from radio to label promotion, management and marketing. It was so gratifying to hear their perspective on CRS as first-time attendees. It reminded me to never, ever take for granted what you can learn, or who you can meet at this unique industry experience.
One of the young ladies, Grace Lenehan, is a student at Otterbein University in Ohio. She e-mailed me her impressions of CRS the week after it was over. I loved the headline she included because I could totally relate: "CRS 2015: Three Days of Doing What I Love." That alone says it all, but she continued:
"After working at Country Radio Seminar 2015, it's clear to that I picked the right career path. I was 18 years old when I started as a freshman at a small college called Otterbein in Westerville, Ohio, which is about 15 minutes from downtown Columbus. I chose to major in Journalism and Media Communication because I did radio in high school and thought it was fun, so why not? It wasn't until I combined my love for radio with my knowledge and passion for Country music that my desired career path was born. It would be my dream to work in Country music radio, TV, or print/web journalism. Now as senior graduating in May, I'm on the road to making that career happen.
"I initially got the idea to work at CRS during a trip to Nashville in January of 2015. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but it sounded like a great opportunity. I got in touch with Kristen England [of CRS], and she put me on the social media interview team. I thought the seminar would be informational and helpful, but it was so much more than that. I was in charge of gathering interviews from panelists, attendees, artists and anyone else I could see. I met and interviewed so many people in the radio industry from all over the country, and I also got to interview a lot of artists. CRS was great experience and really gave me to the confidence to walk up to artists to get interviews. I also enjoyed everyone who attended and volunteered, and I made some great connections and friends. Also, all the performances and special events were a blast for a Country music fan such as myself.
"Working at CRS not only enhanced my experience and skills in my journey toward a career in Country radio, but it gave me a taste of what that world looks like. After the three days at CRS, I'm convinced that I want to be a part of it all. I'm in love with radio; I'm in love with Country music and CRS brought those things together. I will continue to work hard to achieve my desired career in Country music media, and I know that I have the passion and motivation to do it. CRS was an essential stepping‐stone for me to reach my goals, and I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity."
Pretty impressive, eh? Grace and her fellow CRS interns were even more so in person. Smart, yet eager to learn more about this business and so enthusiastic about Country radio, the music and becoming part of this business. Quite honestly, the type of people I could gladly see myself working for in the future. That is, if I live long enough!