Garth Brooks Serves a Cease & Desist to “GARTH-FM”

May 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  21 Comments

103.9-garth-fm-louisville-002Over the Memorial Day weekend, Lousiville, KY classic country station 103.9 turned heads when it decided to switch from it’s traditional country format to “Garth, The Whole Garth, and Nothing But The Garth,” playing the 90’s country superstar on 24 hour rotation. GARTH-FM drew the curiosity of many, and the ire of some, including Garth’s legal team apparently, who has since served the radio station with orders to stop using his name and likeness in promotion.

“First….the response to XXXXX FM has been overwhelming,” Program Director Todd Schumacher said in a statement. “Thanks to those of you who have reached out to us via phone, email, and social media. Unfortunately a certain artist’s legal team has contacted us and told us in no uncertain terms that we can no longer use the name XXXXX FM. So from this point forward, we will no longer use the name XXXXX FM.” 

GARTH-FM’s logo of Garth’s stylized visage have been removed from and the station’s other web properties, the call letters have been replaced by ‘X”s, and though the station is still playing Garth’s songs and Garth’s songs only, his specific name in the on-the-air radio promotional content has been bleeped out.


“Our Programming team is currently behind closed doors determining the evolution of our radio station,” continues Todd Schumacher. “We don’t have a solution now, but we will soon. Tune in Monday morning at 7am to hear the debut of the new 103.9. In the meantime, enjoy more music from one of country music’s greatest artists.”

Garth Brooks and GARTH-FM by proxy been receiving great attention this week from the talk of a potential format split in country music, with the music of artists like Garth from a 25-year “classic” window being featured on their own stations, apart from Top 40 country. Garth Brooks is very much a centerpiece of this plan, with Big Machine Records pursuing the superstar to sign with their new NASH Icons venture with Cumulus Media. GARTH-FM became the first, or one of this first stations to make the symbolic shift to the new 25-year “classic” format.

Though playing only one song, or one artist during the reformatting of a radio station is a common practice in the radio business known as “stunting,” Summit Media, which owns 103.9, seemed more committed to the Garth-only format for longer than the few days that a “stunt” normally occurs.

“What’s happening now is that country is going more and more pop in a lot of ways,” Director of Marketing for Summit Media in Louisville, Brian Eichenberger told Saving Country Music on Tuesday. “You have the representation on the legends side, but you don’t necessarily have it in that 90′s to 2000′s, to 2002 period where country was really strong. And the best figure head for for that is Garth. So our first move was to make a strong statement about bringing that era back and making it all about Garth. May we add in other artists at some point? That’s highly possible. But right now we really want to make a statement about, ‘What happened to the 90′s? Let’s bring them back.’ And here’s Garth to do it”

In all likelihood 103.9 will adopt this new 25-year “classic” format come Monday morning, but in the meantime, despite the naming issues, they must feel they accomplished their goal of getting everyone’s attention.

21 Comments to “Garth Brooks Serves a Cease & Desist to “GARTH-FM””

  • “103.9 Country Legends” has been a bright spot on my dial ever since I moved to Louisville. I hope Garth’s legal action is enough to flat-out undo this ridiculous change in programming. Or, just go with HANK-FM. Yeah … that’d be better.


    • I agree! They had the same format for 6 years and even though I don’t listen to country all the time, it was a great choice when I was in the mood. I love all the 80’s and 90’s country! I even like a little Garth, but I eventually had to change the channel once the novelty wore off. Like, the same day I discovered this…which was yesterday. I think the long and the short of it is: It WAS a stunt, and it worked. It got people talking. Kudos, Mr. Schumacher. Well done. I’m going to miss the classic country though. I truly hope a good station replaces it. :-/


      • I’ve been listening all day, I honestly think this is the best format in the area! Haven’t heard a bad song all day and I’ve been listening since 9 while I work.


  • There is nothing better that could have happened for this station. Another round of media attention.

    Were they smart enough to know this would happen? Who knows.


    • Yes, probably after the initial sour pit you get in your stomach when you get a legal notice was slowly replaced by high fives. Arguably the legal action is becoming a bigger story than the format change was gauging the interest I’m seeing in it.


      • I just listened to a break on it and the program manager comes on and says “we were informed by a curtain legal team we can no longer play all [Bleep] all the time but the team that never checked the legality of our current name is working on the next one” New format starts Monday at 7am. He also says it will be something nobody in Loisville has done before. They have the bleeps over the Garth like they are swearing.


  • There’s a classic country radio station here in Bakersfield. I always thought it was a nationwide syndicated thing because it says it’s powered by Nash. They play good music but every once in a while they mix in a like Bryan. But I’ve never heard rascal flatts or Florida Georgia line.

    I guess we are kind of lucky here.

    I’d hate to hear all Garth all the time.


    • From what I understand about Cumulus Media’s “NASH” syndication is that it is mostly elective by affiliates. They can run as much or as little nationally-syndicated NASH programming as they want. This is different from Clear Channel who appears to make those decisions from on high. If they decide an affiliate should get the Bobby Bones morning show, there’s no choice in the matter.

      Also Cumulus (and so thus, NASH) also do have some traditional and classic country stations, not just Top 40. According to Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records, most of these stations are what will be taken over when they launch their “NASH Icons” classic country format.


    • Do you know any good country Venues up that way? I’ve been really wanting to head up to bakersfield, but I figure it would make more sense if I booked a show while I was there, I’m in LA so its not incredibly far away.


      • There’s no real country bars here anymore. You can go to the Crystal Palace and see the buckaroos on Saturday I think. But it’s pretty lame. The cool thing there is seeing all nudie suits and guitars and stuff. Actually Trout’s isnstill around an is one of the last original bakersfield honky tonks. Red Simpson plays there a lot.

        I know the Goddamn Gallows are playing June 10th at a bar downtown called Riley’s. Most of the country bands like bob wayne play at B Ryder’s. The music scene has sucked here for a while. Bob Wayne came with the Supersuckers and there was like 15 people there. Pretty lame.

        There’s a local band called The Iron Outlaws that I like quite a bit and try to go see them whenever I can. So many talented musicians and nobody goes to see them. Pitiful.


        • Damn, yeah I know a few guys who play at trouts when they’re up that way. Its sad that there isn’t much of a scene up there anymore! Sounds like I might be better off in LA…Still, I’ve got to head up that way, sort of a pilgrimage for people who are crazy bout Merle And Buck and what them and the other Bakersfield sound guys did for all of us…maybe I’ll try to book trouts when I go up!


  • 103.9 Bleep FM All Bleep and nothing but Bleep. I looked at their Twitter feed last night and they have been retweeting the negative reactions to the format change in support of the old station which makes me believe it is a publicity stunt and they will go back to what they were.

    It’s possible they could be trying to make a statement about how all modern country from male artists sounds the same and that they were better by literally playing the same guy over and over again.


    • I think it was pretty clear it was a stunt of some sort, except for deciding to extend it out like they have done, but I do not think they will go back to their old format. After speaking to the Director of Marketing for the station and seeing the quotes from the Program Director, I firmly believe they will implement this “classic” 25-year Garth Brooks-style format.


  • I can’t figure out why they were messing with a station that is rated #5 out of 18 stations in the market. Keep in mind that their sister station plays ONLY new country. Their previous format was playing about half to 2/3 90s country already.

    I question if there was no legal threat at all and this was part of the scripted plan. But I know how aggressive Garth’s legal team is with his music and image. So… what do I know?

    Liberal FM talk. Something we’ve never heard or seen in this market…


  • This still seems odd to me. Part of me still thinks it’s just a stunt, but if they are being serious, who wants to listen to just one artist 24/7? If it was just made up of say the class of ’89, I could at least understand.


  • 80’s, all 80’s and nothing but the 80’s


  • A while back, my uncle had on a satellite radio station that played nothing but Elvis. It wasn’t a stunt either.


  • For all those affected by this story, allow me to make a suggestion.

    Turn your crank to Frank.


  • […] closed doors determining the evolution of our radio station,” Schumacher explains according to Saving Country Music. “We don’t have a solution now, but we will […]


  • Take out two of the X’s, and this station will gain an even bigger audience…


  • […] doors determining the evolution of our radio station,” Schumacher explains according to Saving Country Music. “We don’t have a solution now, but we will […]


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