November 25, 2015

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Top 10 Country Radio Programmers — 2004 (02/23/04)
Despite an overall loss of 95 stations in the format last year, three new major-market Country stations launched in 2003: KZBR-FM in San Francisco, KTYS-FM in Dallas, and KTHT-FM in Houston. In fact, the format said “farewell” to only one top-20 market outlet, KIKK-FM in Houston (which evolved into Jazz KHJZ). According to Country Radio Broadcasters Executive Director Ed Salamon, “the increased major-market presence positions Country radio for growth in the new year.” More good news is that “market managers and general managers are being at least as aggressive as last year in their projections for revenue growth in the coming year,” he observes.

Still, Country radio is not without its problems. Many media buyers continue to give it the brush-off, audience levels have dipped, the industry hasn’t seen a superstar in years, and the labels often seem to be working at cross purposes with Country radio stations. In a format that’s heavily based on oldies and recurrent music, new artists don’t get the exposure they once did and thus have difficulty building a fan base. Meanwhile, as downloading refocuses attention on individual songs, Nashville is faced with a rapidly evolving business model that today finds a dwindling enthusiasm for albums amidst a growing popularity of singles.

These are just some of the numerous challenges facing today’s Country radio programmers. Eleven are highlighted on this year’s list because we had a tie. These are the men and women who have been identified by the Country Radio community as the most talented and innovative PDs in the format. Day in and day out, they balance the tastes of the listener with the needs of the advertisers and the near-impossible budgets demanded by today’s industry while achieving solid ratings and revenue success (as well as the admiration of their Country Radio colleagues).

Every year when we put together this feature, we ask a broad cross-section of the radio industry to identify those individuals who exemplify the best in Country programming. During this selection process, we look at a variety of criteria, including ratings success, continued leadership, professional respect, and a reputation for taking risks when others hide behind their cookie-cutters. Each year, a number of fine Country programmers come to our attention, and we’d like to be able to expand this listing to include each and every one of them.

Please join us in honoring the top Country programmers for 2004. All of us at Radio Ink extend our heartfelt congratulations to one and all!

1. Becky Brenner
KMPS-FM, KYCW-AM Seattle (Infinity)

2. Scott Lindy
WPOC Baltimore (Clear Channel)

3. Paul Williams
KPLX Dallas (Susquehanna)

4. Gregg Swedberg
KEEY Minneapolis (Clear Channel)

5. Kerry Wolfe
WMIL Milwaukee (Clear Channel)

6. RJ Curtis
KZLA Los Angeles (Emmis)

7. John Crenshaw
WCOL Columbus, OH (Clear Channel)

8. Mike Hammond
WIVK Knoxville, TN (Citadel)

9. Coyote Calhoun
WAMZ Louisville (Clear Channel)

10. (tie) Tim Closson
WUBE Cincinnati (Infinity)

10. (tie) Dave Kelly
WKDF Nashville (Citadel)

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