During the past few months, hundreds of country music fans picketed outside Gaylord’s offices, with some carrying signs reading, “Too country and proud of it!'’, and deluged the company with mailed protests. Country star George Jones showed up one day to offer support to the demonstrators.
Nashville’s venerable Grand Ole Opry, where many country music stars got their start, will not be evicted from its longtime broadcast home, the radio station owner said on Monday.
Nor will station WSM-AM change its country music format in favor of sports talk despite posting a $150 million loss last year, said Colin Reed, Gaylord Entertainment Co. president and chief executive officer.
Reed ended weeks of speculation with the announcement at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s former venue, that WSM-AM will continue a 70-year tradition of broadcasting the show – the longest running on radio.
“The Grand Ole Opry is an international institution, and WSM has been its home since it began. Our commitment today is to ensure both of these icons of country music realize their greatest potential,'’ Reed said.