Day Two of Country Radio Seminar was also Valentines Day… which was appropriate in multiple ways for me… I have a bit of a love affair with Nashville, so getting to spend time with one of my favorite cities worked. But also…
Just in case anyone was wondering just HOW single on Valentine’s Day I am, even my VOICE decided to leave me today… 😂
— 🎙Kristin (@RadioKristin) February 15, 2019
… but that didn’t happen until later.
My day started early, and I cannot imagine ever doing CRS while also staying in a different hotel. There was a Programming Mentoring Breakfast, which in non-radio speak basically means us on air people got the chance to sit down with important people in the industry who gave us tips and tricks to enhance our career! It was done in kind of a speed-dating fashion and I swear there was NEVER enough time! I got to chat with John Shomby, who is both The Ty Bentli Show and Nash Nights Live’s boss, which was a cool new perspective on radio. I chatted with a program director from one of our sister stations in Knoxville that my DAD used to work at back in the day. I chatted with a whole bunch of people who usually asked me first “so what is your role?” which made me rattle off the several hats I wear. You may not even be aware of them! I’m on air here, at 97.3 Nash FM from 9a-noon, I’m on air down the hall, too, at the top 40 station, Peoria’s 92.3 and I do afternoons 2-6p. I also help with a lot of the programs on Nash, so Nash Next, Teddy Bear Drive… I help grow and expand some of these things and come up with new packages and sponsorship ideas (because we DO need to make money somehow… and that money pays my paycheck!). I am also the Queen of Digital. Literally. That’s my title. Okay, it’s not. My official title is Digital Program Director, but close enough. I manage the websites, social media, apps, streams, alexa skills, basically ANYTHING digital that our station touches is my kingdom… and I do that for all FIVE radio stations in our building. So, for those of you who think at noon I get to go home, I definitely do NOT! Anyway, after rattling all that off to basically everyone I talked to, they had the same reaction. Their eyes got all big, and usually the response is “so is there anything you DON’T do?”
The biggest issue I faced during this breakfast was the actual EATING portion of it. I grabbed coffee, but I didn’t want to bite into a bagel just to be asked a question and have to chew really, really fast to get to answer it without rudely talking with my mouth full!
After this breakfast is where things got tricky for me, though! The 9-9:50am session alone had SIX different options of things I could attend… and I’m a person who wants to know EVERY ASPECT of radio, so I wanted to attend them all. The best advice I received, I’d gotten a few weeks prior when I had the opportunity to go to Memphis… just pick the one you think will benefit YOU the best. Which sounds like simple advice, but to someone with anxiety, gave me the permission to make the decision. So I attended a workshop on vocal coaching. And while a lot of it was geared toward voice guys and gals (you know, the guy that talks between the songs that’s NOT us), I found it a GREAT session, and I got thrown back a little bit to my theatre roots (I was a theatre major in college, after all).
At 10, no one had to decide what they wanted to do, because why would you pass up the opportunity to watch Garth Brooks speak in a Town Hall discussion? He talked about his choice to go with his Amazon partnership for exclusivity to the digitized versions of his songs, and renewed MY passion for radio (which, if you didn’t already know, was really high) by driving home how much he loves and relies on radio for “new music discovery.” Even the Amazon executive in this meeting nodded toward radio (you’d think at this point we’re competitors with streaming services, but in reality we work together) for this. Because you hear it first on radio, and then you go searching for it on streaming services, right? But for real, Garth Brooks is just all over inspiring as heck! He was honestly one of the best parts of CRS. When I tell people he’s the best show I’ve ever seen, it sounds SO CLICHE, like you could just be pretending to like country music and be like “oh, yeah… uh Garth Brooks is great.” But, no, he’s absolutely earned his way into the highest selling solo country artist of all time spot.
Then we had another label lunch… this time it was Universal Music Group Nashville, and it was at the Ryman! I’ve visited the Ryman once, but I’ve never seen music there, so it was incredibly exciting to finally experience what everyone says is one of the most acoustically perfect spaces in the world!
UMG opened with Little Big Town, and as the other two times I’ve seen them before, I was mesmerized by their harmonies. It was THE PERFECT first performance for me to ever see at the Ryman.
But apparently I don’t have video of them so that makes me sad.
Jon Pardi followed:
Dierks Bently performed (I’ve actually NEVER seen him before, so this was cool!), and literally right after this hopped on a plane to California.
Kassi Ashton was one of their newest additions to the team, and she BLEW ME AWAY!
For Keith Urban’s performance, I’m actually going to use someone else’s tweet because I missed this hilarious moment. He starts playing a SUPER fresh brand new song and FORGOT THE WORDS… so he called himself out on it, and started again. Now, Keith had a backing track on his phone he was trying to use that his second attempt, just kind of faded out after a few seconds… so he stops, goes “let me try this again” and pushes play, plays along, and it fades out and you see him shrug and just continue acoustically. But it just was a very REAL moment that country stars are always willing to share with us, which is why I love country music and the whole industry so much!
— The Country Note (@thecountrynote) February 19, 2019
Another newcomer to the scene, Brandon Lay, performed, too! Of course, you’ve seen him in Peoria several times, including Tailgate N’ Tallboys last year (and one of the Crusen’s After parties)!
Maddie and Tae were another first for me (I was out of town when they were at Tailgate N Tallboys a couple years ago):
(I’m learning instagram only let me save the first 15 seconds of every story post here, which is a bit frustrating)
You remember Adam Hambrick who opened for Lindsay Ell when she was at Crusens in December? LOVE this song, Rocking All Night Long!
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that the guy who was introducing each artist was hilarious…
I can’t tell if this is a music show or a comedy tour… they just did a whole eulogy of David Ashley Parker to intro Travis Denning and I’m dead. 😂
— 🎙Kristin (@RadioKristin) February 14, 2019
You’ll remember David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs- Travis Denning’s introductory song? Not all artists go number 1… several artists are lucky to hit the top 20, as was the case for that song. I couldn’t even do the Eulogy this guy did justice, just know I was doubled over in laughter. All to introduce Travis Denning and his NEW song:
Remember when Jordan Davis came to Crusens on Farmington Road and then just a few weeks later, had the number one song in country music? I got to see the next song:
Okay this lady had ENERGY!! UMG showed us another one of their newest acquisitions to the label, Caylee Hammack and WOAH. Check her out!
The next guy they brought up…. well let’s just say this first Insta Story part said “this guy needs no label to tell you who he is.” But in case you are only a casual listener, it’s Chris Stapleton (who is coming to PEORIA soon, btw…)
Followed by Eric Church:
And someone who is NO stranger to the Ryman stage, Vince Gill!!
Still with me? I know, SOOOOOO many artists! I had to check my app after this like “who HASN’T been on this stage at this point?” It was getting toward the end of our time, and one more artist was schedule to appear: Darius Rucker…. so imagine EVERYONE’S surprise when instead they announced HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH!!
Hootie and the Blowfish were the finale, though, so we all rushed out of the Ryman, back to the Omni (I will note here, they had shuttles… and it’s a 0.3 mile walk- I looked it up on my phone- and I had so much confusion at this until I saw people bundled up in heavy coats, scarves, and hats, and realized, there are people here who think this is COLD! It was in the 50s. I was in a light jacket I had unzipped and flats instead of boots that day, and enjoyed my walk to and from the Ryman because it was SO GORGEOUS!) and we headed to our next few sessions. Honestly, they’re so “industry” you would probably be bored to tears if I told you about them, but I did sit in the front, take notes, and nod incessantly like that annoying kid you hated in class, haha. I also ended up missing the next session because I was in SUCH a great conversation with Carsen from Nashville, and you may remember Toby Tucker, who hosted Tailgate N Tallboys last year!
I won’t go into much detail here, but for those of you who have reached out to me to directly ask why you never hear that many women on your radio station, it was brought up during another discussion group… and talked about the WHOLE time, so I was excited about that! I WANT to bring you the fabulous women in country music! I’m working on it!
After that, it was 90s country night, and they had Brandon Ratcliff and Walker Hayes perform, but I needed a moment, so I spent a little time in my hotel room before I headed over to the Country Music Hall of Fame where it was held (literally attached to the Omni hotel where I was staying), and missed both performers (sad face) but ran into Bryan Webb (the Web Guy from the Ty Bentli Show)! When I headed back because I INTENDED to make it to a songwriters thing, I also ran into Ty Bentli and his wife Corri, Shawn and his wife, and Elaina! After we headed upstairs so their significant others could see their GIANT faces on pillars…
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When I spotted this across the room at #CRS, I turned beet red…had no idea my picture would be there! Now that I’m away from it (and hiding in my bedroom) it’s kinda fun to share this pillar – partly cuz I’m being poked in the dimple in the pic. It’s a strange way to be reminded of a journey that’s taken decades, so far. I started radio doing Sunday morning weather updates & running @westwoodonesports on an AM station in Sioux Falls, SD when I was 17…I was insanely stoked when they asked me to record a 30 second forecast for the alternative rock station, every once in a while. i never thought that it would lead to countless overnight shifts at @1047kcld during my college years…or moving to Arkansas, or setting a 4am alarm clock in Austin. To get the call of a lifetime and have the #1 show in Chicago, just blocks from my lifelong team the @cubs…moving to LA to meet my dream girl…landing in New York City where she and I started our family together! And now, I get to hang with some of my best friends every morning and talk to the entire country about ridiculous Chuck E Cheese conspiracies, Gen Z-ers whose parents create Tinder accounts to help their kid find love, and incredible causes like @stjude & @nleomf…while talking with the artists I grew up requesting on @ktwbfm (past my bedtime), so that I could fall asleep to a song that made me feel less alone way down in my basement bedroom. Instead of hitting the little red button to start commercials during a football broadcast on KWSN, I get to be part of the @Westwood family! This pillar means so much more than a far-too-big picture of my increasingly ‘mature’ face; believe me…this isn’t lost on me. Total and unexpected reality check. Also…is Chuck E Cheese REALLY reconstructing pizzas out of uneaten leftovers?!
— Shawn Parr (@DJ_Shawn_Parr) February 14, 2019
…Ty basically TOLD me I was accompanying him and a VERY hungry Corri (I was convinced at some point she was about to start eating his head) to a party for this company called Benztown, which basically provides us with a lot of the mood music you hear under our promos, and some of the cool sound effects you hear. They were at a bar that literally had a bowling alley in the back. Which was SUPER cool. And a mural on the wall made out of cans. I was kind of obsessed with this room.
And somehow I completely forgot to take a picture with Ty… and Shawn, and I felt so bad because it was SHAWN’S BIRTHDAY on Valentine’s Day!
At this point I’m trying to talk over the music and the background conversation and am starting to realize, my voice isn’t there 100%. Oh well, I’m just tired. No big deal, I’ll go back to the hotel and sleep and I’ll be fine tomorrow!
So I go back to the Omni, but I get to the second floor and see the Radio Disney screen in the corner which is playing the Song Suffragettes’ Times Up Music video, which, if you’ll recall, our friend Tasji Bachman is in.
— 🎙Kristin (@RadioKristin) February 13, 2019
And right after this video played, there was an ad for a pop up show called Let the Girls Play at Bell Tower which was literally right across the street from the Omni… so…. I HAD to see THAT!
I caught the last song from Jessie James Decker, and then Runaway June took the stage, which delighted me to NO end because I hadn’t seen THEM yet, either, and am definitely a fan! Here’s their newest that’s climbing the charts: Buy My Own Drinks (that I’m positively obsessed with).
And then Cassadee Pope took the stage and just KILLED it… after she admitted she was late getting there because she and her boyfriend got a flat tire a few miles outside of town and she DITCHED him on the side of the road, called an Uber, and literally walked in the door, grabbed the guitar and went on stage!
And then Raelynn closed out the show, with all the energy in the world:
She also invited host, and fellow country singer, Kalie Shorr on stage to sing, and I caught this incredibly adorable picture so I’ll share that, too:
I stayed after to chat with Kalie for a few minutes, mostly because I’d heard about her from Tasji (I think the phrase she used was “she’s killin’ it right now”), plus she was in one of Elaina’s Women Want to Hear Women podcasts and I wanted to say hi! But that was very difficult as my voice was even MORE tired at this point in the evening. So I went back to the Omni and went to bed, ready for the third and final day of Country Radio Seminar, hoping to wake up with my voice fully in tact!