HITS Daily Double
You don’t want anybody telling you what to play, but you had no problem dictating what your listeners would be allowed to hear.


An Open Letter to Radio Programmers from HITS’ Lenny Beer
An editorial by HITS’ Editor in Chief Lenny Beer

Boycotting, Banning, Blacklisting, Blackballing Needs to Stop NOW:
In an historic example of poetic justice, sales on the Dixie ChicksTaking the Long Way are exploding after their multiple Grammy triumph Sunday night, as the winning album will now pass the 2 million sold plateau and head even higher. The American public’s wholesale embrace of the outspoken trio is a clear indication that radio programmers, especially at Country and otherwise, made a huge gaffe when they played politics last year, boycotting this should’ve-been/deserves-to-be/still-could-be smash “Not Ready to Make Nice,” winner of both Record of the Year and Song of the Year Grammys as well as Country Album of the Year.

This unilateral decision on the part of the major radio groups to block listeners from having the opportunity to make their own decision on whether or not this anthemic single is a hit was compounded by several chains’ refusal to even take tour advertising for the group. Clearly, these decisions were ethically wrong, bringing to mind such odious events as the Hollywood blacklist. Now that the industry is voting with their hearts and minds and the public with their pocketbooks, it’s time to say to these many stonewalling programmers: Enough, already! You don’t want anybody telling you what to play, but you had no problem dictating what your listeners would be allowed to hear. The irony is, you made this move under the guise of Americanism—despite our country’s history of free speech and a political climate that is radically changed since 2003, when Natalie Maines expressed her mortification at the actions of her President

As this is written, Columbia is reshipping the single to all formats, thus giving radio a timely opportunity to make up for what stands as an embarrassing mistake. Anyone with ears can hear that “Not Ready to Make Nice” is a readymade smash, not only at Country, but also Hot AC, AC and Top 40, and how often do programmers get a gift-wrapped, beautifully set-up song that’s a natural for their formats?

Among the savvy programmers who made a point of giving the track extensive airplay when it was originally serviced are Dan Bowen of Star 94 Atlanta, Charese Fruge of Star 98.7 L.A. (whose #1 callout research response from the audience of the market’s broadest pop music station firmly proves the point), Brian Michel of KUDD Salt Lake, Marathon’s Sky Daniels, Steve Salhany of WTIC Hartford, Tony Manero of KPEK Albany, James Baker of K101 S.F., Maynard of KZZU Spokane, Justin Chase of KXMB Las Vegas and Jeff McHugh of KRSK Portland. Both satellite networks, XM and Sirius, as well as VH1 (with Rick Krim being a particularly vocal champion) and CMT were also strong supporters. Their strength of purpose and will to let the listeners decide is to be commended and applauded.

Don’t you think it’s time for others to join them?