Nashville Notes: The Country Network Returns On-Air; Moves at CRS, Big Loud Records
Here's your weekly roundup of goings on -- artist signings, staffing moves, good news and more -- in the wide world of country music.
NEWS + NOTES
Outside of Bakersfield, Calif., there’s likely no city more closely aligned with the late Merle Haggard’s memory than Muskogee, Okla. Plans are underway for a June 16-18 G Fest that mixes national and local talent, and Haggard was originally slated as the closer for the whole event. Instead, there’ll be some Haggard tributes, and just-announced addition Kacey Musgraves is now in the closing spot on the June 18 main stage. There are plans to place a bronze statue of Haggard on the north lawn at the Muskogee Civic Center, the same place he recorded his live album Okie From Muskogee. A local street is also expected to be renamed Merle Haggard Avenue.
Trace Adkins and Kris Kristofferson are updating their acting portfolios with the June 10 release of Traded in 10 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Kristofferson plays a Kansas bartender in the 1880s western, while Adkins is an outlaw. The plot follows a rancher who’s trying to recover his teenage daughter, who has been abducted and traded as a sex slave. The movie features the film debut of Kristofferson’s daughter, Kelly Kristofferson, in a minor role.
The Nissan Stadium lineup gets the most ink — and the biggest attendance — but the smaller stages at the CMA Music Festival are where some of the most critical work gets done, as newcomers gain exposure in front of fans from numerous states. Among the three dozen acts playing the Gildan Stage June 9-12 at the Hard Rock Cafe are Brett Kissel, Haley Georgia, Waterloo Revival and Ruthie Collins. That locale also features a handful making their CMA Fest debuts, including Olivia Lane, Steve Moakler, Runaway Jane and The Last Bandoleros.
’ROUND THE ROW
Texas-based corporation TCN Country LLC has purchased a country cable property from Zuus Media and returned the channel to its original branding, The Country Network. The company is billing itself as a 24/7 country outlet, intended to separate it from CMT, which has drifted into scripted series and movies, and from GAC, which devotes its prime hours to lifestyle programming. Key executives include president/CEO Tim Eaton and vp programming and artist relations Cary Rolfe. TCN is currently available in 34 markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.
Big Loud Records hired Tyler Waugh as Southeast region director of promotion. He recently held a similar post at 1608 Promo.
Producer-songwriter Jason Deere signed a publishing deal with A Million Midnights Music. Deere co-wrote several SHeDAISY singles and produced the new Marie Osmond album, Music Is Medicine. A Million Midnights is owned by Diamond Rio keyboard player Dan Truman, Frank Larry and Karen Clark.
Hart Street Entertainment president/CEO Zach Farnum has left the company and is now a Webster P.R. publicity manager. Stepping into the vacated Hart Street position is Julie Reliford, formerly Hart Street senior vp PR & marketing.
Mark Chesnutt joined the artist roster at Webster Public Relations …
United Talent agent Jbeau Lewis joined the International Entertainment Buyers Association board of directors, replacing outgoing director Kevin Neal, of William Morris Endeavor, for the remainder of his term. Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy associate business manager David Boyer was appointed IEBA treasurer.
Former MCA chairman Bruce Hinton will be recognized during the June 7 City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game as the founder of the event, now in its 26th year.
Brett Eldredge hosted the Country Music Association Music Teacher of Excellence Awards on April 26, with 50 music teachers receiving $2,000 grants from the CMA Foundation.
RADIO MOVERS & SHAKERS
CBS Radio hired Kenetta Bailey as senior vp marketing, effective May 16, putting her in charge of the branding and marketing for 117 terrestrial stations and associated digital properties. She had been running her own firm, KB Consulting.
John Harry was promoted to PD at WYTE Wausau-Stevens Point, Wis., where he remains morning host.
Beasley/Las Vegas welcomed two new executives to its cluster, including country KCYE. Director of sales Mark Sturcken was previously Beasley national sales manager. Business manager JoAnn Johnson had been staff accountant for the Manheim auction company.
Ten new members were added to the Country Radio Seminar agenda committee: Kristina Carlyle, iHeartMedia; Andrew Curran, DMR Interactive; Steve Hodges, Sony Music Nashville; Scott Lindy, Cumulus; Billy McKim, Texas A&M; Zack Massey, iHeartMedia; Eric Michaels, Emmis; Kris Rochester, United Stations; Terry Phillips, CBS Radio; and Kristen Williams, Warner Music Nashville.
WBBG Youngstown, Ohio, flipped from classic hits to country, The Youngstown Vindicator reported. The station continues to operate with its existing on-air staff: Kat Jackson, morning drive; Matt Appleby, afternoon; and Tony McGinty, nights.
iHeartMedia/Albany, N.Y., promoted Randy McCarten to operations manager for the seven-station cluster, including country WRVE-HD, according to RadioInfo.com. McCarten had been the PD for adult contemporary WRVE.
Ryan Nelson joined WFUS Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., as assistant PD/afternoon drive personality, RadioInfo.com reported. He arrives from KKRV Wenatchee, Wash., where he was PD.
Wilks Broadcasting sold KWFP Reno, Nev., and classic rock sister KURK to Evans Broadcasting, according to InsideRadio.com. As a result, KWFP becomes a sister to country KCMY.