Pictured (l-r): Lawson, Morgan, Green, Willyard, Biondo and Wade Jessen’s nephew, Meagher McConkie (Photo: Kayla Schoen)
Six broadcasters were honored last night (6/10) with induction into the COUNTRY RADIO HALL OF FAME during a ceremony at NASHVILLE’s VIRGIN HOTEL. The honors went to TRISH BIONDO, PAM GREEN, WADE JESSEN, CHARLIE MORGAN, JOHN WILLYARD and DOLLAR BILL LAWSON, while BARBARA MANDRELL received the 2023 CRB Artist Career Achievement Award, complete with a musical tribute from surprise guests TRISHA YEARWOOD and GARTH BROOKS.COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION CEO SARAH TRAHERN introduced MANDRELL, calling her “truly a groundbreaker for our format .. She taught generations of women, including myself, the sky is the limit when it comes to balancing a family and a career.” YEARWOOD then took the stage, telling MANDRELL “You are a rock star, and you are a pioneer and you are a badass.” She also sang MANDRELL’s hits, “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right” and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” joined halfway through the latter by husband BROOKS, who told MANDRELL, “Your contribution to Country music — enormous. Your contribution to entertaining — immeasurable.”Reading the room, MANDRELL tied her acceptance speech into her appreciation for radio broadcasters, and all of the ways they had helped her career. She recalled the annual OCTOBER Country DJ conventions in NASHVILLE (which later morphed into COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR), saying, “The most important thing in Country music was the disc jockeys,” later adding, “The music business comes from radio, and don’t ever forget how important you on-air personalities are … I hold you at the top of the mountain in such high esteem. You made my career.”GREEN was inducted by fellow HALL OF FAMER ED SALAMON, her former boss at WHN/NEW YORK, and said of her career, “It’s been the ride of a lifetime.”LAWSON was inducted by TOM HANRAHAN, his former boss (or “handler,” as HANRAHAN put it) at WDXB/BIRMINGHAM, who said LAWSON, “treats everybody with honor, respect and dignity,” and called him “the greatest ambassador for Country radio.” LAWSON then got the crowd laughing with stories from his career, including one about how he knocked himself out cold in the studio twice in a short period of time while working in SELMA, AL. He compared his career to a song RASCAL FLATTS made a hit, “Bless The Broken Road,” and marveled at how in Country radio, “the audience lets you into their lives.”Consultant PHIL HUNT and WXBQ/TRI-CITIES PD NIKKI THOMAS inducted WILLYARD, the first voiceover talent to ever join the HALL OF FAME, who said of his career, “Knowing I touched the human heart is golden, like no A.I. can do.” (Read our 10 Questions interview with WILLYARD here.)JESSEN, who died in 2015, was inducted by veteran broadcaster and close friend BRIAN JENNINGS (now with the HARD ROCK CAFE in TULSA), and honored onstage by his husband, two sisters, a niece and a nephew.AUDACY’s MARCI BRAUN did the honors for BIONDO, her long time WUSN (US 99)/CHICAGO colleague. In her acceptance, BIONDO noted that as incredible as her radio career has been, it will never rival the work of her father and brothers, CHICAGO firefighters who save lives.TUNEIN’s BOB RICHARDS inducted current APPLE MUSIC executive MORGAN, who joked about the poor decisions of his career, including once booking a LEAR jet from NASHVILLE back to INDIANAPOLIS on then employer SUSQUEHANNA’s dime, without asking permission first. MORGAN also paraphrased a line from the memoir of NBA legend KENNY “THE JET” SMITH, saying “anyone who describes themselves as a self-made man … [is] just not paying attention.”SCOTT and JULIE DE VOS of DE LUX PRODUCTIONS received the 2023 CRB PRESIDENTS AWARD, presented by CRB/CRS Board Pres. KURT JOHNSON of TOWNSQUARE MEDIA. The couple has managed behind-the-scenes production and live music events for COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR (CRS) for the past 25 years. WSM-A/NASHVILLE morning host and COUNTRY RADIO HALL OF FAME member BILL CODY served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Find the bios of the six new Hall of Famers here, and see more about MANDRELL’s award and career here.Nominations for the next year’s inductees are being accepted here. The Class of 2024 will be revealed at CRS 2024, to be held FEBRUARY 28th through MARCH 1st, 2024 in NASHVILLE.
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