1st Mainstream Station to Play Tyler Childers Doubles Down

Earlier this week, the biggest on-air syndicated personality in popular country music, one Bobby Bones, made headlines when he had the audacity to say the quiet part out loud about how many of the #1 songs at country radio don’t ascend the charts due to their popularity among listeners, but as part of a system dictated by record labels that ensures certain singles from specific artists attain the #1 spot. Of course, anyone with half a brain already knew this. But the public revelation was important nonetheless, especially coming from someone such as high profile as Bobby Bones.

But one issue with the statement from Bobby Bones is that it basically lumps all country radio stations into the same lot, which isn’t entirely fair. Along with many of the independent radio stations still out there playing what both the DJs and the local fans want them to play like KOKE in Austin, 95.9 The Ranch in Fort Worth, and KHYI 95.3 The Range in Dallas, there are also many mainstream country radio stations that are doing what they can to make sure a greater slice of today’s country and even country classics are being represented to their listeners.

For example, in May of 2020, Saving Country Music first featured US 106.1 WUSH “America’s Country” based on Norfolk, VA, along the station’s Program Director Dave Parker, when the station had the audacity to become the first and only station in the MediaBase reporting panel to add the song “All Your’n” by Tyler Childers to its rotation.

By the way, the song has since been Certified Platinum, despite few if any mainstream radio stations playing the song, underscoring its appeal among the greater public. After listeners responded positively the adding Tyler Childers to the rotation, Dave Parker added songs by Sturgill Simpson, Cody Jinks, and other independent artists to the rotation as well.

Recently, Saving Country Music heard from Dave Parker of WUSH 106.1, who had some positive news to report.

“About a year ago I started a show called Six String Saturday, which was then two hours of alternative and traditional country music,” says Dave Parker. “After finding great success in the spring of last year from being the only station on the Mediabase panel to ever add Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson and Cody Jinks, who I play everyday, I decided to expand that music to a full show.”

So here was a mainstream country radio station not just adding top independent artists into their rotation, but including dedicated programming for independent and traditional country to their weekly rotation. Looking at their website, one of the featured artists at the moment is Morgan Wade, who is from Floyd, Virginia.

“You will be happy to hear that I have never received the amount of unsolicited positive feedback as I have from this show,” Dave Parker reports. “I have since expanded it to three hours, and now commit a consultant’s daily sin of featuring it in our middays. I am guardedly encouraged that if given the light of day, good music can thrive on country radio.”

Now granted, if you’re a hardcore independent country fan, you still may not find favor with WUSH’s weekday lineup, only the station’s “Six String Saturday” show. What can you hear every morning on the station from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.? You guessed it, the nationally-syndicated Bobby Bones Show. “I understand there will be many on that site who may pile on because I continue to play Luke Bryan and Russell Dickerson, not to mention the occasional Dan + Shay,” says Dave Parker. “But turning an aircraft carrier takes time.”

And that is what a station like WUSH is attempting to do. By reaching audiences that otherwise may not be exposed to independent artists, it’s arguably just as important as stations who play independent artists all the time.

After all, that’s all independent music artists and fans have been asking from mainstream country radio for years—an equal opportunity, a seat at the table for their favorite artists. And once exposed to a greater cross section of what country music has to offer, fans can decide for themselves what they want to listen to, as opposed to major labels deciding for them.

106.1 WUSH can be streamed online.

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