Only a few hours after a video of Morgan Wallen using a racial slur emerged on TMZ, radio stations have reacted swiftly. iHeartMedia, the largest radio station group in the country, has pulled his music, as has Entercom.
“In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately,” an iHeart spokesperson told Billboard.
Similarly, an Entercom representative told Billboard, “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent use of a racial slur, we’ve discussed the incident with our country brand leadership team and together have made the decision to remove Morgan’s music from Entercom’s playlists.”
iHeart operates more than 135 country stations, while Entercom has 21.
Cumulus Media has also pulled the rising country super’s music from its more than 400 stations, according to Variety.
Beasley Media Group also followed suit. “We were deeply saddened and disappointed to hear of the recent comment made by Morgan Wallen. Beasley is a company that celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion. We have pulled his music from our seven country stations’ playlists,” said chief content officer Justin Chase.
Cox Media Group has also removed Wallen’s music indefinitely from its six stations. “CMG takes very seriously our role in ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion permeate our workplace and platforms. We strive to make our listeners and the communities we serve feel valued and respected. We believe Morgan Wallen’s statements do not align with that goal or our cultural beliefs as an organization. Effective immediately, his music and content will be removed from our country brand station playlists,” said the company through a statement.
Bill Dollar, operations manager for First Media Services, which owns around a dozen stations throughout the South, told Billboard they were not yanking Wallen’s music. “We’re just going to downplay the whole thing. We’re playing the music on a very sparse basis,” he said. “Being in the South, and in this area, I have told our listeners what he has done and I’ve given them the fact that they can go to TMZ.com and watch the video and read the story.”
CMT is also removing Wallen’s videos from its outlets for an indefinite period. “After learning of Morgan Wallen’s racial slur late last night, we are in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms. We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion,” said a company representative in a statement.
It’s a stunning fall from grace for Wallen, whose album Dangerous: The Double Album is spending its third week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and he was viewed a potential global superstar. The 30-track album, released by Big Loud Records in partnership with Republic Records, logged the largest streaming week ever for a country album following its Jan. 8 release. Wallen has scored four consecutive No. 1s on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, with current single, “7 Summers,” sitting at No. 15.
Tuesday night (Feb. 2) TMZ posted a video recorded over the weekend of Wallen yelling expletives, including the N-word. In the clip, Wallen is seen arriving home with some friends and he advises his pals, who are getting into another car, to “take care” of his buddy twice, adding profanities, including the N-word, at the end.
Wallen offered an apology to TMZ, taking responsibility for his words uttered in the grainy video.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry,” Wallen told TMZ via a statement. “I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
A number of country artists, including Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, took to Twitter to condemn Wallen’s actions, as he quickly became a trending topic on the social media platform.
This is the third time in 10 months that Wallen has had to make a public apology for his behavior. Last May, he was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct after being kicked out of Kid Rock’s bar in Nashville. The charges were subsequently dropped.
In October, he posted an Instagram apology after his Saturday Night Live performance was canceled when he didn’t follow proper COVID-19 protocols. He later appeared on the comedy show in December.
Wallen and Big Loud’s representative told Billboard they have a statement coming shortly.
Assistance on this story provided by Steve Knopper.