Audacy is increasing its commitment to Nashville by opening a content studio in Music City, marking the Philadelphia-based radio and podcasting company’s first physical presence in town.
To be located at 100 Broadway, in the three-story brick building in front of the Hard Rock Cafe (which the Hard Rock also owns), the roughly 800 square-foot studio should open by November’s CMA Awards, and further cements Audacy’s partnership with Hard Rock International. The second-floor space, which also contains an area for performances, will serve as the home for Audacy’s nationally syndicated country music radio show Katie & Company, hosted by Katie Neal, as well as other Audacy events (though larger events will be held in the Cafe’s own performance space).
“I’m thrilled that we have a space in the heart of Music City,” Neal tells Billboard. Neal has already relocated to Nashville from New York and is operating Katie & Company remotely until the new space is completed. Katie & Company began broadcasting nationally across Audacy’s 21 country stations in September 2020, including in Houston, Seattle, Chicago and Detroit.
“When you were in Times Square, you knew where [MTV’s Total Request Live] was back in the day,” Neal says. “I want people to be on Nashville’s Broadway and say, ‘That’s where Katie & Company and Audacy broadcast from.'”
Neal plans to take full advantage of the building’s architecture and premier location near Nissan Stadium and Bridgestone Arena. “There are these unbelievable semi-circle windows that overlook Broadway,” Neal says of the space. “There’s this old fireplace that I can’t wait to sit and have intimate conversations with artists. We’re also going to have an area set up to have acoustic performances, and it will all be set up for video and audio. There won’t be a ton of room for listeners, but I would love to have listeners be in the studio for artist interviews.”
Andrea Burtscher, who has been promoted to the newly developed role of director, country promotions and experiences, will relocate to Nashville from San Francisco, and will lead Audacy’s studio and performance space. Kris Daniels, producer of Audacy’s syndicated weeknight country radio show “Rob & Holly,” will relocate from Los Angeles. Philadelphia-based senior vp, digital audio content Tim Clarke will also be spending more time in Nashville.
In March, Audacy kicked off its partnership with Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville with a four-concert series of “Totally Private” shows at Nashville’s Hard Rock Cafe, featuring Lee Brice, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris and Brett Young. Audacy’s senior vp, promotions and experiences Chad Fitzsimmons says the concerts are just the beginning for what the company has planned to make the most of the new Nashville presence.
“[Audacy country format vp] Tim Roberts and I have wanted to do these types of shows. We’ve been hellbent on getting a footprint in Nashville for years,” Fitzsimmons tells Billboard. “I think we finished a big statement of what you can expect from Audacy. We took a great over-the-air program and made [Katie & Company] a great program with a live event.”
In December 2021, Audacy announced its partnership with Hard Rock International, including partnering on music festivals and Hard Rock Cafe events around the country.
Of course, Nashville’s entertainment ventures expand far beyond country music, and Fitzsimmons tells Billboard there are plans to use the new Nashville space for Audacy events timed around Nashville-area mainstays such as Country Radio Seminar and CMA Fest.
“We also have a roster of podcast stars that we haven’t put in a live event environment, so we are looking at those folks and partnerships,” Fitzsimmons adds. “We have a robust sports portfolio as well, so when our sports broadcast partners in New York, Washington D.C. or Baltimore are covering the [NFL’s Tennessee] Titans, do we bring those teams down to work from Katie’s studio? Do we bring those teams down and client partners and host them at the Hard Rock? There’s a lot of non-country stuff, too. If there is an opportunity for a band that’s not country and they are playing Bridgestone, we are going to look at fun stuff to do around that, too. I like to break the rules.”