Show's back here, but CMA still savors Big Apple
By PETER COOPER
NEW YORK CITY — Country Music Association chief Tammy Genovese sat in a Times Square restaurant Tuesday morning, drinking coffee and poring over papers.
"I've got an interview with the Wall Street Journal later," she said. "I've never done that before."
Though the CMA Music Awards are returning to Nashville in November after a single-year sojourn to Madison Square Garden, Genovese and her organization are extending their newfound ties with the Big Apple.
Today, several categories of CMA Award nominations will be announced on ABC's "Good Morning America," from the program's Manhattan studio. After 34 years on CBS, the CMA is switching to ABC for the live airing of its Nov. 6 show.
The CMA Songwriter Series at Joe's Pub also has kept country artists and writers in front of New York audiences: Tuesday night's edition of that series featured Jon Randall, Lori McKenna, Jamie O'Neal and Jo Dee Messina.
Despite — or maybe because of — the fact that New York still doesn't have a major FM radio station devoted to the country format, the CMA continues to develop East Coast media contacts that were sparked by last year's show.
And country artists are doing well in the market. The Faith Hill/Tim McGraw tour and Kenny Chesney have performed sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, and floor seats for Rascal Flatts' Oct. 14 show at the Garden are being offered for as much as $2,500 each from city ticket brokers. The CMA's challenge is to see to it that fans of those acts get the word about the 40th anniversary edition of the CMA Awards, even if there's no radio station around to trumpet the message.
"We're going to beef up our marketing and advertising in New York and in Los Angeles because we don't have the normal outlet of communicating to country fans, which is radio," Genovese said.
L.A. country station KZLA recently switched formats, meaning that three of the nation's prime markets — New York, L.A. and San Francisco — have no major country station.
"We hate that," Genovese said. "It's devastating to our format. L.A. and New York are top sales markets for our music, and it's astonishing that corporations would make the decision not to feature this music."
Fans won't need the radio this morning to find out what artists are nominated for the CMA Awards. Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland and Brad Paisley will announce the entertainer, album and male and female vocalist categories during the 8:30 a.m. segment of "Good Morning America." After that segment's airing, Jason Aldean and Little Big Town will announce the remainder of the categories from a press conference at the Gaylord Entertainment Center; that will air at 9 a.m. on cable channel CMT.
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