In a move that took the country music industry by surprise, ABC Radio Networks has made public plans to replace longtime "American Country Countdown" host Bob Kingsley with Kix Brooks of Brooks &

In a move that took the country music industry by surprise, ABC Radio Networks has made public plans to replace longtime "American Country Countdown" host Bob Kingsley with Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn at the beginning of next year. Kingsley has hosted the show since 1978, and says the two sides failed to come to terms in a renegotiation, in part because of Kingsley's concerns over ABC Radio being for sale.

While Kingsley did not own the show's name, his Weatherford, Texas-based company KCCS Productions produced the show, and had a sales and distribution agreement with ABC. Kingsley and his team plan to continue the show either with another syndicator or on their own. They are in the process of creating a new name for their program.

Kingsley sent an urgent memo to his more than 400 affiliates today (Nov. 9), informing them of the change and asking them to continue airing his weekly countdown show and daily music feature, as well as the four-hour year-end show. In the letter, Kingsley told affiliates, "We would like to offer you the right of first refusal for our new program in your market before we go into the marketplace with our new distribution partner."

"Hopefully everybody will stay with us," Kingsley tells Billboard.biz. "So far the response [from affiliates] has been really good."

"American Country Countdown," which continues with Brooks as the host, uses the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart as the basis for its countdown. Brooks spoke with Kingsley Nov. 8 and told him the four-hour weekly show would be recast from an "artist's perspective," according to Kingsley.

In addition to its affiliate stations, the show is heard on American Forces Radio Network and internationally through a joint venture with Radio Express.