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Net Talk • The Caterpillar in the Country Cocoon
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The Caterpillar in the Country Cocoon

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:38 am
by bigstew
The Caterpillar in the Country Cocoon

I recently went into a Waffle House for breakfast, because let’s be honest, scattered, covered, smothered, chunked, and topped is the way to go. While I sat there ingesting my heart attack on a plate, I overheard a couple of middle aged, 40 something, year old men pining for the days of Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, and the one that really tickled me… Tim McGraw, you know when he was good. Not my sentiment, but that of the two guys enjoying their grits and eggs. They wanted to know what happened to Country Music! Not such a shocking conversation to overhear as the Waffle House jukebox belted out the latest tunes from Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, and others.

What was interesting is later that day I was speaking to a program director who has clearly fallen out of love with Nashville. I was talking to him about new music and groups that were out, one of my personal favorites is the group Midland. I like their sound, and their music is fun to listen too. As we dove deeper into our new music discussion, I was rather taken a back, that he, a program director for a new country station, was voicing the same complaints of today’s new country. First I submit this to all of you, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional” This radio veteran clearly isn’t growing with the landscape. Not only musically but digitally as well. He longed for the days of big hair, cowboy hats, and tight wrangler jeans at the local country bar. Have you been to a local bar lately? With the exception of a few geographical areas in the country, the landscape and appearance of our P1 listeners have changed drastically since Clay Walker was singing “Then What!”

I equate modern day country music in what is now almost 2018, to the same boom we experienced in the early 90’s when a guy from Oklahoma named Garth rolled onto the scene and told us of all his “Friends in Low Places.” Remember back then when it was new and different from George Jones, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, and Johnny Cash? Programmers complained then as they sliced their thumbs with the razor blade editing the reel to reel to air a phone call! However, even with all their complaining and protest, country music moved on… sometimes surpassing them.

You see Country Music is like a Caterpillar in a cocoon…. It reinvents itself every few years, and becomes a beautiful butterfly that soars of into the sky. 2018 isn’t any different, we are just moving and progressing! Would Sam Hunt have been a huge star in 1993? Maybe not. But we could also say that about Darius Rucker, Raelynn, Cam, and a string of other artists who are currently enjoying success in the Nashville landscape today! Remember we don’t get to truly pick who is successful in Nashville. While we may have a hand in helping some artists fly higher than others, it is our loyal listeners who make that decision for us! What is it they say… play the hits, and play them often! Our hits are just changing a little and exploring more and more outside the box these days. Country music fans are still loyal, and while loving the old school artists like Conway, Waylon, and Willie, we can also find room in our hearts for Dustin Lynch, The Brothers Osborne, and more as well.

So if you are a programmer, air talent, sales person, general manager, promotions director, sales manager…. Or whatever your title. Embrace the high we are having with our artists from Nashville. Don’t let your love fade for the classics, and for goodness sake, please don’t let radio and country music outrun you because you don’t want to change, and you pine away for the olden days! Your butterfly might just come out of the cocoon and leave you standing there looking up….. all alone, if you do!

If you don't love Country Music, unconditionally, then please vacate your programming chair, so that someone who does can share the love with our loyal fans! If you're reading this and thinking to yourself, maybe I lost a little of the glint from Nashville, go search it out! With all the incredible talent out there today, surely you can find someone you love, and then share that love with your listeners!

I would love to read your comments about what you love about country music on this post, or how you and your station are spreading the love!

See you on the radio!

Big Stew