- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The owners of WSM-AM station announced yesterday that the historic station will continue to broadcast country music and the Grand Ole Opry rather than switch to an all-talk, all-sports format.
The announcement by Gaylord Entertainment Co.'s Colin Reed ended two weeks of heated speculation after word leaked that the company was considering changes at the station where the Grand Ole Opry, the longest continually running radio show in the country, was born in 1925.
Opry cast members Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Bill Anderson joined Mr. Reed for the announcement.
The stars, with thousands of country music fans worldwide, were against the change, and Mr. Reed said he had been inundated with telephone calls and e-mail about the prospective change.
A protest held last week outside the WSM-AM offices drew about 100 people, including country stars George Jones and Billy Walker.
"There has been an outpouring of support from country music fans and performers," Mr. Reed said. "The audience is there for country music."
Gaylord bought WSM-AM in 1983, and Mr. Reed said the company was exploring ways to expand the Opry brand and listenership.
He said the company discussed using the AM station for sports talk and franchising the Opry show to FM stations.
He said discussions about syndication are continuing.


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