Morgan Wallen’s radio ban in the wake of his racial slur controversy may have begun to crack after a station in his hometown began playing his music again.
Knoxville, Tennessee‘s WMYL-FM began putting Wallen’s music on the air again after a Facebook poll created by the station showed 92 percent of respondents wanted his music back on the air, Radio Ink reported on Monday.
The 27-year-old country singer was banned from many radio stations across the country and several streaming platforms after TMZ posted video of him drunkenly shouting the N-word on February 2.
In the blink of an eye: Country star Morgan Wallen’s radio ban may be starting to ease after a station in Knoxville, Tennessee, started playing his music again, Radio Ink reported on Monday; seen in October
WMYL says that 35,000 respondents voted in the poll about his possible return to the radio.
However, online polls are notoriously unscientific, as anyone with access to it can vote, and people infuriated by Wallen’s ban may be more likely to seek it out and vote.
WMYL’s station owner, Ron Meredith, may have also compromised the poll after he said that keeping Wallen’s music off the radio would amount being ‘in the censorship business.’
‘We were disappointed by the behavior in the video,’ Meredith said in a statement released when the poll was announced. ‘But we were also uncomfortable with sitting in judgment.
Not reliable: The station in Wallen’s hometown posted an unscientific online poll to Facebook, with 92 percent of the 35K respondents calling for his return to the air; seen in February 2020
Foregone conclusion: WMYL’s station owner, Ron Meredith, may have also compromised the poll after he said that keeping Wallen’s music off the radio would amount being ‘in the censorship business’; Wallen seen in February 2020
‘If you’ve lived long enough, you probably have said at one point or another you were glad video and social media wasn’t everywhere when you were young and did stupid things. While nobody liked the behavior, we are a radio station — not in the censorship business,’ he continued.
‘We changed the music on our station last year so it focuses now only on what East Tennessee country fans like. So, this situation is like being between a rock and a hard place. We felt uncomfortable with all the different institutions making decisions for country listeners. We didn’t want to do that at 96.7 Merle.’
Meredith didn’t reply to requests for comment from Radio Ink after the station started playing Wallen’s music again.
Despite one station publicly returning to playing his songs, major chains including iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Beasly and Entercom have all indefinitely banned Wallen, and they haven’t given any indication yet how long that ban will last.
Persona non grata: Major chains including iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Beasly and Entercom have indefinitely banned Wallen without word of when it will be lifted; seen in October 2020 in Dickson, Tennessee
Many streaming platforms followed suit and took Wallen off their front pages and removed his music from playlists, though fans could still search for him music and listen.
However, Spotify appears to have been one of the first streaming services to break ranks by returning his music to its influential Country Coffeehouse playlist, according to Digital Music News.
The playlist boasts and impressive 600,000 followers.
Wallen’s use of the N-word, which was condemned by many other country stars, didn’t stop Spotify from playing to his popularity by releasing ‘an exclusive “enhanced” version’ of his LP Dangerous: The Double Album shortly after the news broke in February.
The singer made a public apology video on February 10, but industry insiders surveyed by Variety guessed that he might have to lie low for six months to a year before returning to the public eye, assuming he’s judged to be contrite.
Back to business: However, Spotify appears to have been one of the first streaming services to break ranks by returning his music to its influential Country Coffeehouse playlist, according to Digital Music News; seen in November 2020
Wallen’s new album has continued to sell well among fans who don’t care or are sympathetic to his use of the N-word.
So far, Dangerous has made an impressive seven-week run at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, though Ben Sisario at The New York Times suggests part of its success is because there have been few blockbuster albums released in recent weeks that could compete with it.
After Wallen uttered the racist slur, his label Big Loud announced it was ‘suspending’ him indefinitely, but the label is still raking in money, estimated at seven figures, from his streaming haul.
Wallen’s country music ban also extends to award shows, including the Academy of Country Music Awards, which announced that he had been banned from the telecast and had been disqualified from receiving any nominations, even though the first round of voting had already commenced.
Not this year: The ACM Awards banned Wallen from appearing on the telecast and disqualified him from being nominated for any awards; seen in November 2020