Friday, May 23, 2008

Kyle Cantrell's New Blog

Kyle Cantrell

Kyle Cantrell, program director of Bluegrass Junction, channel 14 on XM satellite radio has initiated his own blog. In his introductory post, Kyle says he hopes to provide information about programming on Bluegrass Junction in addition to some behind the scenes insights into how the station works. His profile provides lots of information about his extensive background in broadcasting and reveals something of him as a person. Subsequent posts deal with the progress of the new XM studio in Nashville and discuss his programming at Bluegrass Junction, including the regular features like his Bluegrass Roots, the bluegrass gospel show on Sundays, Request Monday, and the Studio Special series. He also has posted a number of interesting photo galleries.

Engineer Travis Turk, a guest, and Kyle in Control Room

Because media are changing so quickly and blogging has become an integral portion of media penetration, it makes a good deal of sense for Kyle to enter into this arena. You can expect the same sort of genial information and encouraging promotion you hear when you listen to Bluegrass Junction. If you’re looking for Kyle to be revealing the secrets he’s keeping from you on the air, don’t look for it in his blog. But you wouldn’t expect that anyway.

Control Board at XM Studio

During the two or so years Kyle has been Program Director at Bluegrass Junction he has fashioned the station to his own vision. I wasn’t enthusiastic when Kyle took over the position previously held by Felton Pruitt, but he has won me over. Programming at Bluegrass Junction contains a good variety of contemporary, progressive, and traditional bluegrass music with a smattering of pre-bluegrass country and old-time music designed to illuminate the roots from which bluegrass has grown. In his studio series with bands and in his in-depth interviews with individual artists, Kyle’s work has been superb. He obviously has done his homework and knows about the band’s background and music. He’s a real radio professional. He completely won me over on two particular studio specials where I would not have thought the band to reflect his personal taste. In both his interview with Uncle Earl and with Cadillac Sky, his questions focused on his understanding of the bands musical goals and aspirations. He lets a band represent itself rather than trying to force them into his own preconceptions. It’s really too bad more so-called news “pundits” don’t manage the same restraint and thoughtfulness.

Kyle in Studio with The Gibson Brothers

When Irene and I traveled to Nashville following the Gibson Brothers tour, Kyle invited us to come to the studio for the taping of their interview, to be first aired on June 6th. We entered the studio ante-room, where a man was sitting at a computer typing. I introduced myself and asked for Kyle Cantrell, whereupon he stood up and introduced himself. Our visit to the XM studio and our time with Kyle was entirely satisfactory. He proved himself to be a jovial host who put time aside to chat with us, despite the bustle surrounding the arrival of a band, his own production staff (small) and life at the station. We were given free rein of the studio and warned about the actual broadcast recording room, which is heavily soundproofed and filled with microphones. In fact, there’s so little space in there that Kyle only has a small corner to sit in behind a music stand to hold his notes, while the rest of the space is filled with the band and microphones. Kyle’s engineer, Travis Turk, is the master of the control room. Turk is an interesting man with a vast background who deserves a blog entry of his own.

Kyle with Eric and Leigh Gibson

Kyle Cantrell has forged Bluegrass Junction to reflect his long experience and knowledge in country music and bluegrass. His blog should prove to be an interesting supplement to the radio programming for those who wish to go the extra distance into understanding the how and why of the programming on XM as well as Cantrell himself.

Kyle Cantrell at XM Studion