~~Update July 31, 2018: We will expand this story with new information, and the update will be published by Monday, August 6.~~
See the 8/6 update: Flip side to the dustup between Cody Wolfe and Cat Country
A Tweet by rising country star Cody Wolfe revealed something many of us already knew. Gatekeepers at radio stations aren’t very interested in finding new talent. Wolfe published an account of remarks allegedly made by program/music director Joe Kelly with radio station WPUR 107.3 in Northfield, New Jersey. In those remarks, the director also allegedly dissed Luke Bryan. While the dustup is the focus on social media, there’s a troubling message embedded in the remarks.
Wolfe published remarks he said Kelly made about Wolfe and about Bryan. Kelly reportedly said he didn’t know who Wolfe is. Other attributed remarks include, “We’re not in practice of promoting artists that aren’t familiar to our listeners,” adding, “Hell, if you had Luke Bryan playing, we still wouldn’t push it.” You can read the entire account at Wolfe’s Twitter page.
That is troubling.
Luke Bryan who is an established brand has almost ten million followers.
Wolfe isn’t a household name—yet—but as an up and comer his close to half a million followers are nothing to dismiss.
I’m an indie blogger with years of freelancing behind me, but I already knew who Cody Wolfe and Luke Bryan were before I began to focus on writing about the arts.
It’s sad that radio settles for canned lists and repeat programming to a point where you can get sick of hearing a song. It’s doubly sad that gatekeepers have such little interest in music they refuse to try something new. You’d think if these industry insiders really cared about music, they’d get excited about finding and sharing new talent. Maybe we need a ‘Radio Renaissance’.
Nothing makes me happier than discovering great music by a newcomer.
At present, radio still dominates country music delivery. The day will come when it doesn’t, simply because technology permits a musician to connect with a base without need of a gatekeeper.
If the account of the program director’s remarks is accurate, independent musicians should bear that in mind. Seems to me we should start a good guy list and publicly thank stations who play good music by newcomers. Surely there are a few stations who aren’t held creative hostages by statist gatekeepers.
(Kay B. Day/July 31, 2018)