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[03 January 2002]
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (McClure & Trowbridge Publishing)
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"Gaylord Crushing WSM Country Music Format?"

Nashville Channel 5 news reported today that Gaylord threatened to fire the employee who leaked the plans to change WSM's format, in an executive meeting berating Gaylord staff. Gaylord plans to crush WSM's historic country music format and move to talk or sports format.

The Tennessean reported "Gaylord Chief Executive Officer Colin Reed said the company is evaluating the operations of its three radio stations, and that classic country WSM-AM is the least profitable of the three."

In the latest of a long string of policy changes, cancellations, and unlikely enterprises is Gaylord's format change for one of the largest and most popular country music stations in North America, WSM.

The WSM Grand Ole Opry is the historic, still running live country music show broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry Hotel most Friday and Saturday nights. In the 1920's and 1930's when country radio emerged, live radio shows proliferated. Two of the biggest were the WLS Barndance broadcast from Chicago, and the WSM Grand Ole Opry broadcast from Nashville TN.

Last year, Radio & Records, a leading radio trade publication, chose WSM-AM the Country Station of the Century.

Nashville's central location in the mid-deep South made WSM an ideal home base for country music entertainers, and WSM's far-reaching signal covered the entire United States. Other major country music stations broadcast from just over the Mexican border in Tijuana, Nogales, and Juarez and attracted the best of U.S. star entertainers. The Mexican stations, with unrestricted powerful transmittors, were a major competitive force in the radio market for years.

The history of Gaylord's mismanagement and poor decisions is well known (see "Gaylord BMI Insider News", 05/04/01) and spans decades. Losing money is another thing the company is good at.

Repeatedly placing themselves in losing ventures, Gaylord has axed its 'less productive' lower earning divisions in rash attempts to improve their bottom line. Often these less productive divisions were mainstays of the company and of the country music industry.

Bob Meyer, vice president and general manager of WSM-AM, WSM-FM and WWTN-FM, retired March 31, 2001, after eighteen years with the stations and a broadcasting career that began in 1968.

Cancelled Gaylord divisions include Opryland, themepark home of live music and jobs to thousands of musicians and support staff; Songs.com, the ill-planned and mismanaged Internet branch of Gaylord; and Southern Publishing, Gaylord's attempt to enter the music publishing business which ate up budget and never progressed beyond the planning stages.

WSM may be anticipating a format switch, but it's official at KYCY-FM in San Francisco. KYCY's exit will leave San Francisco without a country music station.


GAYLORD HISTORY

Today May 04, 2001 Gaylord Entertainment announced more insider news following the recent resignation of Mr. Gaylord as CEO. Gaylord Entertainment started controversial changes in Nashville's bastions of country music in 1992, as layoffs of Grand Ole Opry regulars were announced.

Layoffs included alumni of Hee Haw such as Roni Stoneman, reigning queen of one of the royal families of country music, and one of the last of the true first generation country music stars, the Stonemans.

Gaylord Entertainment continued shocking the country music aristocracy, industry, and fans when they announced plans to destroy Opryland Themepark and build a new shopping mall, Opry Mills.

This move resulted in hundreds of permanent layoffs of Nashville professional musicians who made their livings playing Opryland each year, not to mention the termination of thousands of support jobs, and the collapse of the Outlet Stores shopping mall next to the extinguished Opryland Themepark.

Gaylord Entertainment built a new medium-rise corporate center next to the new Opry Mills mall and moved in. They started agressive growth programs in Internet startups and diversified entertainment holding such as publishing, production, and a record label.

Forecasting one year of losses when the new mall opened, actual year 2000 losses were four times projections, and Gaylord announced cutbacks and internal restructuring early this year. They also layed off most of their work force in the new corporate building on Briley Parkway.

Today we learned the Gaylord family quietly bought back their original family holdings from Gaylord Entertainment corporation, using their privately owned Oklahoma Publishing company as a vehicle, before Mr. Gaylord resigned as CEO of Gaylord Entertainment.

A new CEO and president team (business friends from Las Vegas) are on board at Gaylord Entertainment, following the dissolution of failed holdings and ventures, including their Internet experiments such as "Songs.com". The record label never even got off the ground.


c. 2002 McClure & Trowbridge Publishing


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