Peoria loves country.  And beginning today, Peoria’s Country, Nash FM 97.3 WFYR  is launching a search for the Peoria area’s most outstanding country music talent, to qualify for Cumulus Media’s NASH Next 2106 national competition.

The winner of this four-month-long national competition, announced by country legend Reba McEntire, will receive a record deal with Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, as well as 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.

NASH NEXT 2-2-2-2

Commenting on NASH Next, McEntire said, “Radio has been an essential -- and joyous -- part of my musical career for over four decades. Cumulus is synonymous with country, so it’s the pitch perfect vehicle for this search. I’m honored to add my voice to this great project that will help usher in the next generation of country stars.”

Stellar Judging Panel

Emerging artists will first be judged by Cumulus listeners and local professionals in their communities. Finalists, and the 2016 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, and Jay DeMarcus of chart-toppers Rascal Flatts, joined by a Cumulus listener.

“While it might not be the only place for listening and discovering, it (radio) is still the most important place. We couldn’t have the success that we have without country radio. There is no way,” Borchetta has said. 

“Internet, Twitter and everything else put together doesn’t equal what country radio does for us as artists, and as an industry,” Brooks has noted.
Country is #1 Music Genre
In the last five years, country has supplanted pop as the #1 most popular music genre, with 97 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2015). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal. 

How the Competition Works

Beginning today, local artists may enter the competition via  973nashfm.com, and will be judged on three challenges, by three, as well as WFYR listeners. First asked to submit an original song, contestants will then be charged with adapting a popular song, with a new style, and for the third step, provided a phrase and tasked with writing a verse and chorus, using that lyric. The Peoria area finalist will be selected by the WFYR judging team at a live event September 11th at the Limelight Eventplex in a live performance of an original song.

NASH NEXT 3-3-3-3

The Peoria area 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 legends and a Cumulus listener. Those national finalists will then compete at a live concert event in Nashville, in late fall, where the NASH Next 2016 winner will be selected by the celebrity judging panel.

A total of sixty-eight NASH/Cumulus stations in 60 markets, including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville, will conduct local searches, with additional national participation made possible by Cumulus’ digital properties and syndicated country shows. 

About WFYR:
Peoria’s Country, Nash FM 97.3 WFYR

About Cumulus Media
A leader in the radio broadcasting industry, Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) combines high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands to deliver premium content choices to the 245 million people reached each week through its 453 owned-and-operated stations broadcasting in 90 US media markets (including eight of the top 10), more than 8,200 broadcast radio stations affiliated with its Westwood One network and numerous digital channels. Together, the Cumulus/Westwood One platforms make Cumulus Media one of the few media companies that can provide advertisers with national reach and local impact. Cumulus/Westwood One is the exclusive radio broadcast partner to some of the largest brands in sports, entertainment, news, and talk, including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, the Olympics, the GRAMMYs, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, Westwood One News, and more. Additionally, it is the nation's leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its NASH brand, which serves country fans nationwide through radio programming, exclusive digital content, and live events. For more information, visit www.cumulus.com.

For more information contact: shelly.knight@cumulus.com


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