It’s that time of year again, when thousands of radio broadcast professionals, musicians, songwriters, record label personnel and just about anyone involved in the music industry come together for the better part of a week for the annual Country Radio Seminar (CRS). The CRS is three days and change of panel discussions, exhibits, luncheons and music, music and more music, all designed to help broadcast professionals network with each other and with members of the country music recording community, and learn about what their peers are doing in different areas of the industry throughout the world.
This year the CRS will take place on Wednesday, March 2 through Friday, March 4, and as usual has a packed agenda. Bill Mayne is the Executive Director of the Country Radio Broadcasters, or CRB, which presents the CRS each year. Mayne, with a long history in the music and broadcasting industries, assumed the CRB post almost a year ago after having been on the board of directors for, as he jokingly puts it, “more years than I care to discuss.” In addition to being with the CRB, Mayne is also the Chairman of the Academy of Country Music (ACM). “I’ve been on the Academy board since 1984,” he said.
One of the highlights of CRS will be the New Faces of Country Music show on the evening of Friday, March 4, which finds some of the hottest acts that have made huge inroads at radio in the past year performing the music that has endeared them to radio programmers and music fans alike. Mayne said he’s excited about this year’s show, which has long been sold out.
Mayne believes that this year’s event promises to be as exciting as ever. “The New Faces show is a stellar lineup this year,” he said, “with Lee Brice, Steel Magnolia, The Band Perry, Jerrod Niemann and Josh Thompson. So we’ve got some fine artists, as always. There are certain criteria the acts have to meet in terms of being on this show, and these are the five that had the most votes this year.”
Though CRS doesn’t officially get underway until Wednesday, the events the evening of Tuesday, March 1 are significant as well. The Country Radio Hall of Fame will induct three of its own radio personalities into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, and also honor legendary mother-daughter duo The Judds with the 2011 CRB Career Achievement Award, and longtime Sony Music Nashville Chairman Joe Galante with the CRB President’s Award.
Individual registration for CRS is $399, and there is a special $99 “unemployment rate” for industry professionals who have found themselves out of work in the down economy. The $99 rate includes admission to panel discussions and more, but doesn’t include luncheons and dinners.
“The board of directors decided that, since we’ve got so many people in the radio and music industries who are unemployed, we needed to do something for them,” Mayne said. “One of the great features about CRS is the ability to network and meet people, so we feel it’s a great thing to do to be able to offer professionals in our industry a $99 rate to the panels and events, to help them strike up relationships that might lead to a job.”
In addition, as one might expect, the event is always a shot in the arm to the Nashville economy, with countless people each night filling the restaurants and honky tonks of the downtown area. After a day of seminars and information, many of the attendees who don’t go to events like the ACM Music City Jam with Blake Shelton and Friends (Wednesday night), or the New Faces show, can be found mingling in various areas of the Renaissance Hotel, or in venues from Tootsie’s to BB King’s, soaking up the Nashville culture.
Carrie Underwood will be performing the national anthem on the floor of the convention center during the opening ceremonies the morning of Wednesday, March 2, just prior to the keynote address by Ken Lowe, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. Headquartered in Knoxville, Scripps’ holdings include Great American Country television (whose offices are on Nashville’s Music Row), the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and other broadcast networks. Mayne said portions of the festivities will be videotaped and uploaded to the CRB website, and there will also be continual Twitter and Facebook updates.
The CRB is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1969 to bring radio broadcasters from around the world together with the country music industry to ensure vitality and promote growth in the country radio format. Go to www.crb.org for more information about the CRB and CRS.