The vital role of radio in country music will be addressed in the closing sessions of the Billboard Country Summit through "On Air: the Radio Block," sponsored by Sony Music Nashville with two sessions that take a hard look at issues facing that sector. The Summit, presented in association with the Country Music Assn., is set for June 4-5 at the newly renovated Cannery Ballroom in Nashville as the industry-related start to CMA Music Fest week.


The 3rd Annual Billboard Country Music Summit -- featuring in-depth artist Q&As with Luke Bryan and Willie Nelson and two days of country music business programming -- takes place June 4 and 5 in Nashville. Head here to register and get more information, and readers can get a 15% discount by using promo code BIZ12.

"Check the Research" and "Ask the Consultant: The Method, the Madness, the Answers" begins the afternoon of programming dedicated to country radio. For a discussion on the role of consultants in country radio, Billboard has assembled an all-star team of respected country radio consultants and research pros who will demystify the role of the consultant and the importance and misconceptions of music research.

Willie Nelson, Luke Bryan Join Billboard Country Summit

Moderators are Jimmy Harnen, president, Republic Nashville and Gregg Swedberg, operations manager, KEEY-FM/Clear Channel Minneapolis. Consultant panelists include Becky Brenner, VP/Consulting Partner, Albright & O'Malley Consulting; John Hart, Owner/President, Hart Media/Bullseye Research; Joel Raab, Owner/President, Joel Raab Associates; Rusty Walker, President, Rusty Walker Programming Consultants; and Charlie Cook, President, McVay/Cook & Associations and Director of Programming, West Virginia Radio Corp.

"For the first time ever, Billboard will assemble the most important heavyweights in the programming consultation and audience research fields for a fiery discussion about the essential, but often maligned, work that consultants do," says Billboard senior chart manager Wade Jessen, who programmed the Radio Block. "These are the industry players who are most likely to identify important trends among country music's most active consumers, and always have the unenviable task of communicating those trends back to the music industry. Together, Harnen and Swedberg will shine an important light on research and audience trending by questioning and challenging a panel of seasoned experts in the field."

Next, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment Chairman/CEO John Hogan sits down with Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde for a candid discussion about radio's current and future role in the media conglomerate's portfolio, listening trends, corporate artist initiatives, and why and how the country format continues to play an essential role in Hogan's thriving company. "Country music's primary marketing force is country radio," says Jessen. "Although that's not exactly a news flash, country radio's muscle in the media world is continually being challenged in the digital age."