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You Can Now Listen To The Grand O Opry Every Saturday Night 
On The Sirius Radio Network Channel 111

Out Of the Past? Ed Gaylord, seated right, laughs at a joke made by country music legend Roy Acuff, left, on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. after three-quarters of a century, the weekly radio show that made stars out of people like comedian Minnie Pearl, front, may be leaving Nashville, Tenn.'s airwaves  

The Grand Ole Opry 

Opry’s Radio Home May Switch To Sports  
January 7, 2002

After 76 years, the Nashville country station that created the Grand Ole Opry and broadcast it for 76 years may dump the country music format for sports. Sources within Gayland Entertainment, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say executive are strongly considering syndication of its weekly Opry show, the longest continuously running music show in radio. Gaylord would keep the rights to the show, but sell it other stations for broadcasting. The would leave the company free to switch the format for WSM-AM radio Currently marketing itself with the slogan “Committed To Country Music” Always Will Be – To All Sports. 

Gaylord executives met last week with employees, who were instructed not to discuss details with reports. They also set up two telephone lines to handle the questions streaming in from fans. Colin Reed, Gaylord’s president and chief executive officer, said no decision has been made. We’re not at a point yet that we have determined absolutely unequivocally we are going to migrate from classic country music on WSM-AM at this stage, Reed said Friday’s editions of The Tennessean. At the end of the day we may not convert WSM-AM to anything other than what it is today. Reed confirmed that the company has talked with ESPN about sports programming but said no definitive agreement had been signed.

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WSM, founded in 1925, was one nation’s original clear channel stations – radio stations that have exclusive nationwide rights to a given frequency. It was started to advertise insurance by the National Life and Accident Insurance Co. WSM stands for “We Shield Millions.“ Originally, the station played mostly light classical and dance band music. To the dismay of upper-class  Nashville , a program featuring folk fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson proved wildly popular. The program first aired about a month after the station debuted, but it didn’t get the Grand Ole Opry until 1927, a play on the Grand Opera segment that preceded the show.

The show grew to become the influential in the country music, helping make stars of Hank Williams Sr, Pasty Cline, Minnie Pearl and sores

of others. WSM’s signal could be heard cost to coast at night for decades. Today it reaches 38 states and is the last clear channel station not convert to news, talk or sports. The company is in the midst of a major restructuring to focus on its more profitable convention hotel and hospitality business. Gaylord announced a third quarter loss of $45.1 million in November, and it has sold several assets and closed divisions over the past year, including two film divisions and two record labels. 

Gaylord bought WSM, the Grand Ole Opry, TNN, Opryland and related properties in 1983. its other holdings include music publishing companies and part of the Nashville Predators professional hockey franchise. 

On September 12, Willie Nelson will release his first .


Revised: September 03, 2007

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