Banned country music star, Morgan Wallen is back on the radio on at least one station that had put him on hold. Fittingly, it’s WMYL-FM in Knoxville TN, Morgan’s hometown.
But as Variety wondered, as they reported the story, it brings up the question of how long the country radio industry will stay banded together to keep Morgan off the air.
Morgan’s fans aren’t mad
It’s not like when the Dixie Chicks insulted President Bush back in the early 2000s. The group was banned from radio and never made a comeback, because country music fans were outraged and stayed that way. But in Morgan’s case, his fans are STILL buying his records, despite the singer’s ban from radio, concert stages and awards shows.
The industry tip sheet Radio Ink reports that WMYL put Morgan back on after a survey of listeners conducted on the station’s Facebook page found that 92% of those responding wanted to hear the singer again immediately. WMYL said it had more than 35,000 respondents to the poll. A Facebook poll, isn’t scientific. But there has been chatter all over social media about how Morgan had been “canceled” unfairly.
So yeah, a good portion of Morgan’s fans ain’t mad that he was caught drunkenly spewing the N-Word, like he had been using it all of his life.
Banning Morgan isn’t censorship! It’s a business decision!
The WMYL station owner, Ron Meredith, issued a statement when the poll went online that insisted keeping Morgan off the air constituted, to him, being “in the censorship business.”
“We were disappointed by the behavior in the video,” said Meredith. “But we were also uncomfortable with sitting in judgment. If you’ve lived long enough, you probably have said at one point or another you were glad video and social media wasn’t everywhere when you were young and did stupid things. While nobody liked the behavior, we are a radio station – not in the censorship business.”
OK. Point taken. But keeping Morgan off the air is NOT censorship! It’s a private business, making a decision that protects the bottom line. IT’S CALLED CAPITALISM. The station found out his fans want him back. So he’s back on the radio. If they were mad, and continued to be mad, Morgan’s career would continue to suffer.
I mean, was WMYL worried about “censoring” the Chicks all those years ago? Right.
Currently, The Voice season 6 alum’s music has been barred by the iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Beasly and Entercom chains, among others, since the day after TMZ aired video of the star using the slur on Feb. 2.
Spotify put Morgan back on their biggest country playlist
Additionally, last week, Spotify put Morgan back on one of the streamer’s most popular country playlists, Country Coffeehouse, which has nearly 600,000 followers. The site also noted that the service had launched “an exclusive ‘enhanced’ version” of Morgan’s Dangerous: The Double Album in the days after the controversy broke a month ago.
However, when the ACM nominations were announced last week, Morgan’s name was nowhere to be found, despite having one of the biggest hit records in country music last year. The Academy of Country Music, along with the Country Music Association and CMT announced he was disqualified from any awards nominations.
Despite lack of airplay, Morgan continues to break chart records
Meanwhile, speaking of hit records, Morgan’s new album Dangerous: The Double Album made Billboard chart history as the only country album to spend its first seven weeks at No. 1 in the 64-year history of the Billboard 200. The set tops the list for a seventh total week, all consecutive, after having debuted atop the list six weeks ago (chart dated Jan. 23).
Dangerous earned 89,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending Feb. 25 (down 5%), according to MRC Data.
It’s worth noting, that Morgan did apologize for his behavior and stated he had been sober for a number of days. My speculation is that he’ll be back to full strength by the end of the year if not sooner.