Let’s Talk About “The Morgan Wallen Thing”
So many “ace” programmers (many of whom hold the title but simply follow corporate radio hierarchy…but boy, do they LOVE that PD title) are tooting their own horn- on social media no less- about “dropping” Wallen from their playlist. The comparison is being made that “country radio banned the Dixie Chicks in the early 1990’s and this is no different”.
Some shining examples:
“He said the N word on camera in 2021. Bye bye, mass media exposure.”
“Conservatives will support his “free speech” and complain about democrats “canceling” somebody, and then in a week will be calling for boycotts of somebody else.”
“We know conservatives are all about boycotts and “canceling” people that don’t fit their mold”
Hmmm. These are from a broadcast page on social media. So, it’s a political issue? Gee, I thought the whole idea about PROGRAMMING music stations was to put the best artists on the radio with the best music to make MY station sound better in MY market for MY listeners.
The Dixie Chicks comparison is absurd. The Dixie Chicks (who later dropped the “Dixie” from their name- there’s that nasty “cancel” culture supposedly reserved for conservatives) recorded a song called “Dear. Mr. President”, clearly taking aim at then -president Bush’s decisions in the first days of the Gulf War. Wait. I would call them their new name, “The Chicks”, but I dunno, seems sexist to me in this non-binary day and age. Send me any new suggestions. I’m all ears. “Please Mr. President” was a song that, due to its message, the current climate, and airplay, was true to form “controversial”.
Morgan Wallen, in a late-night situation that appears to deal with someone that doesn’t want to play nice, was a comment captured by a neighbor on a camera phone and sold to TMZ for monetary gain. And the bait was taken. I tossed out the fact, and it is FACT, that artists and singers (not all black) routinely use that N word in lyrics and personal appearances. The responses were many, similar to this. “Black artists have every right to drop the N word all they like in their art. They earned the right after hundreds of years of slavery and oppression.”
Eminem (amongst many others) is black? Hogwash. You want change? You want others to treat you with the respect you say you don’t receive? It starts with yourself, yo. If it’s out there, in songs, movies, YouTube, etc…..the lingo remains present. Ever heard of David Allan Coe? So much is wrong here. Including Wallen’s actions, of which he’s apologized for. None of us were there to witness what happened before, or after. There’s no true context to what happened, not anything you’re going to find in the media. But make no mistake…..the reaction to this episode is completely bonkers.
Yet, corporate programmers are going to pull him, and tell those down the line the same thing. Another comparison to the Chicks debacle to this, that is unfair is that most radio is now corporate, there are many less independently owned stations today than there was back in that era. Here’s the interesting thing- Wallen’s actual sales going up, likely from fans that are supportive of him. This tells me one thing. It could be an indication of how much or how little influence radio airplay has on an artist’s national appeal. And, how independently owned and operated radio stations can still think for themselves and make decisions based on realistic expectations their OWN audience make and demand instead of a one size fits all approach.
by Randy Adams