There’s a good reason for that frequently used term ‘allegedly.’ There was a good reason I used it more than once in a recent article about a dustup country artist Cody Wolfe had with radio station 107.3 (Cat Country/WPUR) in south New Jersey. There’s a flip side to the story after a phone conversation I had with program/music director Joe Kelly.
Yes, the station did decline to promote [as news] an event featuring Wolfe. No, it wasn’t because the station is opposed to emerging voices. It had to do with distance and audience.
It turns out Kelly is a pretty nice guy. Nice enough to track me down so he could respond to the story I wrote. Kelly gave his side of the dustup, and he also explained remarks attributed to him about the term “Nashville recording artist.” It’s also important to note Kelly does know who Luke Bryan is, and remarks Kelly made about Bryan lack context.
Sidenote: It’s never a good idea to excerpt comments from a statement if the meaning is affected.
Kelly said the reason the station didn’t promote an appearance by Wolfe had to do with distance. “The event was six hours away.” Furthermore, Kelly didn’t insult Luke Bryan. He did say, “We wouldn’t promote Luke Bryan if he was playing six hours away.”
As for the term “Nashville recording star,” Kelly didn’t use that in a negative way, but like many of us, he sees a difference in the connotation now. “The meaning has changed,” he said. “Today almost everyone can be a Nashville recording star…even in your garage.” That’s true—it doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
Kelly also gave some good advice for musicians in general. You can use social media to push your music, but bear in mind anyone you know in radio can be someone who can help you. Kelly used as an example Brantley Gilbert. Listeners—people following Gilbert’s music—are responsible for helping advance Gilbert’s music. Key to his getting attention was his YouTube channel with millions of views.
Kelly didn’t rush our conversation by phone. He seemed genuinely perplexed as to why a musician would expect a radio station to promote an event most people wouldn’t drive six hours to get to.
Kelly had tried to communicate with Wolfe. There’s a tweet I missed on Wolfe’s Twitter thread about the incident. Kelly publicly listed his phone number in the Tweet, and he pointed out his comments had been taken from a private email and “taken entirely out of context.”
Perhaps Wolfe and whoever is managing him had a miscommunication. I don’t know.
Kelly didn’t strike me as a statist, or as someone who wanted to impede music by newcomers.
If you’re a musician, and you put a document on your social media, be sure to point out if you’ve omitted something that could change the meaning of the words. No writer likes being told half the truth.
Do newcomers face barriers in radio and other traditional media? Of course. There are some in this business who will rely on a cookie cutter approach to programming. I don’t think Joe Kelly with Cat Country 107.3 is one of them, and I’m glad to expand and correct the record on the dustup.
(Kay B. Day/August 6, 2018)