Jamey Johnson threw up some dust and got some of his fans pumped on Friday night August 12 when he took the stage in Lincoln, Nebraska, as part of the Lincoln on the Street event, and scolded the local radio, New Country KX 96.9. The radio station released three of their on-air personalities after Blackberry Smoke finished performing to promote the radio station and Jamey Johnson, and Jamey didn’t enjoy the presentation too much.
“I thought we had a good deal. You don’t play my music, and I don’t play yours, so stay away from my stage! ‘Kicks’, whatever your name is, who the fuck cares? Johnson told the crowd.
After the incident, several radio station employees took to social media to tell their side of the story, and Saving Country Music reached out to the station’s content creator, Rob Kelley, for comment. Kelley also happens to be the person who helps organize the country list for all national radio stations owned by Alpha Media, which operates 250 radio stations across the United States, including many national stations.
Alpha Media’s Rob Kelley confirmed that although the station’s morning show took the stage for a presentation, they personally did not play any music during the set break that might annoy Jamey Johnson or the crowd. They were also on stage 15-20 minutes before Jamey Johnson’s performance, not just before he took the stage.
Rob Kelley also confirmed that the station had received an apology from Jamey Johnson’s management team for the “outburst” on Saturday night (8-13) after video of the incident went viral. Jamey Johnson’s management has said they will no longer have presentations on radio stations before or between his performances.
Rob Kelley tells Saving Country Music about the KX 96.9 morning show personalities who were part of the presentation, “They were personally hurt more than anything because they are all fans. It’s the worst. Our resort is a bit unique. Are we a general public station? Yes we are. But we also play a lot of Red Dirt music, not in a huge rotation, but we also play music that’s off the beaten track compared to other stations. I probably have 400 rounds on Bailey Zimmerman. I bet I got 400 spins on Zach Bryan. These two songs are in medium on my playlist. We have a company-recommended list, but it only boils down to about 20 songs with the hits happening right now. We play Aaron Watson. We play Wade Bowen.
Others pointed to seeing American Aquarium, Randall King and Mike and the Moonpies also in the rotation over the past 24 hours. Although KX 96.9 was not the financial promoter of the Lincoln on the Streets event, the radio station was the publicity promoter of the event and had been talking about it for months.
“We’ve been partnered with the Bourbon Theatre, which puts Lincoln on the streets, so it’s basically a community event. We promote it through our social networks, by giving away tickets for Jamey Johnson. So somewhere in the mix of that management allowed us to be up there [on the stage] to do this. So that shocked us all more than anything else. We have never been looked down upon by someone like that on stage.
Some DJs have taken it head on. On-air host “Husker” Nick Gregath caught on Twitter after the incident to say, “Jamey Johnson openly mocked me on stage for being the morning show guy and I’m so honoured.”
Gregath was there with his father and stepfather, who are also big fans of Jamey Johnson. ” For memory. I don’t care what Jamey Johnson had to say about us,” Gareth continued. “I love his music. He has an image to keep and if making fun of us helped him then cool, I’ll play my part. The only complaint I have is that he didn’t play to mowin’ down the roses or a solitary song.
It also seems like Jamey Johnson’s beef with country radio isn’t universal. As news of the incident spread, some DJs spoke about their positive experience with him.
“I work on air at a local country music station in Georgia The Bear 92.5“, said Dustin Fordam. “We just did a show with Jamey Johnson a few weeks ago. He was super nice backstage and gave us time throughout the show between acts to entertain his crowd as well… One of the best shows we’ve had all year! Of course, we play his music along with many other outlaw country artists!
So Jamey Johnson’s problem seems to have been specifically related to KX 96.9, but content creator Rob Kelley says he understands why it happened.
“I’ve been playing Jamey Johnson music since ‘The Dollar.’ I get it all, the anti-radio, anti-Nashville thing. I have also heard it from other artists. It lights up your base the same way some politicians light up their base. I understand. But to shoot somebody who’s just trying to promote a community event, we’re just trying to get people there, and get them excited, and even try to get ordinary people listening to the radio station go out and look at this guy because he’s cool, that’s what hurts. Sometimes ‘cool’ isn’t on the radio, and I get it. There have been a lot of artists who were the right artists at the wrong time. Jamey Johnson came out during a huge country pop thing. If Jamey was going out today with artists like Ernest and stuff like that, he would fit right in with some of the things that we do.
“I don’t wish him any malice” Rob Kelley continues. “If that’s the tactic he’d like to use to piss off his base, more power to him I guess. Unfortunately, we were there to promote a community event, Lincoln on the Streets. He was the actor, and we We were trying to tell everyone in Lincoln how cool the guy was, and that’s what he did to us. So that’s how it goes.