WIWF-FM TO CONDUCT SEARCH FOR CHARLESTON’S TOP MUSICAL TALENT AS PART OF CUMULUS MEDIA’S NASH NEXT 2017, THE 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL AND GRASSROOTS SEARCH FOR AMERICA’S NEWEST COUNTRY STAR Seven Diamond Award Winner and Reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks to Lend Voice to National Campaign Contest to Guarantee Winning Artist Major Label Recording Contract and Opportunity for National Air Play on Cumulus, #1 for Country Scott Borchetta, Kix Brooks to Serve as Competition’s National Finale Judges Country Inns & Suites by Carlson Returns as National Presenting Sponsor Charleston,SC, May 31, 2017 – Charleston loves country. And beginning today, WIWF-FM/NASH FM 96.9 is launching a search for Charleston’s most outstanding country music talent. The contest is part of NASH Next 2017, the third annual grassroots national search, conducted by Cumulus Media, #1 for country and radio’s dominant source for country music, to discover country music’s newest hit-maker. The local winner will go on to qualify for the final rounds of this competition, to be judged by some of country’s brightest stars. Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via NASHFM969.com. Seventy-nine NASH/Cumulus stations in 62 markets will conduct local searches, with significant national participation made possible by Cumulus’ digital properties and syndicated country shows. The winner of this five-month-long national competition, announced by seven diamond award winner and the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks, will receive a record deal with NASH Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and the reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Thomas Rhett. The NASH Next 2017 winner will receive substantial exposure, commensurate with a major label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide. While television boasts several talent competitions, no other contest — on any platform — has ever offered its winners a similar opportunity for coveted radio play, which is the most effective medium to cultivate an artist and propel a major music career. In making the announcement, WIWF-FM/NASH FM 96.9’s Bill West, Program Director, said, “Country has become America’s most popular music genre, with 99 million fans, many of whom are right here in Charleston, listening to WIWF-FM/NASH FM 96.9. NASH Next is a great way for us to connect even more deeply with our growing community of country listeners, highlighting outstanding local artists and helping to discover the next country star.” He, continued, “This competition celebrates country music and pays tribute to radio’s great legacy of launching America’s most beloved musical talent.” “I can’t think of a better way to inspire and discover up and coming talent than through local Country radio,” said Garth Brooks. The NASH Next 2016 winner, Todd O’Neill, released his debut single “Love Again” in April and broke the top 50 country charts in early May and his single continues to climb the charts. “This whole experience has been truly incredible,” remarked Todd O’Neill, NASH Next 2016 winner. “There is honestly no way to describe what it’s like when you hear your first single played on the radio or when you see your name on the Country music charts – it’s what makes this program stand out from all others.” How the Competition Works Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via NASHFM969.com, and submit an original song to be judged by three Charleston music industry professionals, as well as WIWF-FM/NASH FM 96.9 listeners. The Charleston finalist will be selected by the WIWF-FM/NASH FM 96.9 judging team at a live event of them performing an original song. Charleston’s winner will move on to the national challenge, submitting a live performance video showcasing his or her best original song, with the top ten artists selected by country music industry professionals. Those national finalists will then compete at a live concert event, hosted in Nashville in early November, where the panel of celebrity judges will select the NASH Next 2017 winner. Stellar Judging Panel Cumulus listeners and local music industry professionals in their communities will first judge emerging artists. Finalists, and ultimately the 2017 winner, will be selected by a panel of country luminaries, including Scott Borchetta, founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the world’s #1 independent record label, Kix Brooks, half of Brooks & Dunn, one of country music’s most successful duos of all time, with additional celebrity judges to be announced at a later date. “I’m always on the hunt for great new talent and there’s arguably no better way to do it than through Country Radio,” said Borchetta. “NASH Next provides the Big Machine Label Group an incredible opportunity to have our eyes and ears on the ground in all of the great Cumulus Country radio markets. If you want to be next, enter now. Game on…” “I really enjoyed being part of NASH Next last year – it was truly incredible to see the level of talent who competed and to now watch the upward trajectory of Todd O’Neill, last year’s winner,” noted Kix Brooks. Country is #1 Music Genre In the last five years, country has supplanted pop as the #1 most popular music genre, with 99 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2016). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal. “NASH Next 2016 brought us a potentially great artist whose in-person performances and on-air presence shows him on a trajectory for stardom.,” said Mike McVay, Executive Vice President, Content & Programming, Cumulus Media, Inc. “NASH Next 2017 gives the next woman or man the opportunity of a lifetime. This competition makes for a great career and great radio.” National Sponsor Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, an upper midscale hotel brand that provides a modern homelike aesthetic and warm, welcoming service with over 470 locations across North America, will return again as the NASH Next 2017 national presenting sponsor.
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