Shawn Parr Promises Behind-The-Scenes Experiences With New ‘Backstage Country.’
Reprinted with permission from Country Insider.
Shawn Parr has spent more than three decades on the radio. If a singer has had a song on the radio during that time, Parr probably has interviewed them, been on their tour bus and maybe met their dog. Now he brings those experiences to listeners with his syndicated radio show, “Shawn Parr’s Backstage Country,” which launched last week on 75 affiliates from coast-to-coast, including multiple Beasley Media Group stations.
Parr’s show combines “Backstage Country” With “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country,” pairing Parr with country artists for camaraderie, songs and stories.
“When you take the ‘Across the Country’ version, and then you take a country artist, and you mix those two, now you’re going to have ‘Backstage Across the Country,’” Parr tells Country Insider.
Previously, artists guest-hosted “Backstage Country,” and the singers needed someone to talk to. With the shows merged, Parr and the artists will speak to each other.
“Shawn can ask more compelling questions and just get more out of the artists,” Beasley Chief Content Officer Justin Chase says. “Some artists aren’t comfortable by themselves in a radio studio hosting a radio show. Having someone there with them will improve the energy and content of the show.”
Chase says the merger doubled the audience and tripled the affiliates. “This show is really working on our country stations and the ratings have been strong from Philadelphia to Tampa to Charlotte to Augusta, Georgia,” Chase says. “This show is for country music fans who just want a behind-the-scenes look at country music. The show is called ‘Backstage Country,’ and that’s the kind of vibe that we’re trying to create.”
He also says the collaboration goes beyond the show. There are three partners in the mix – Parr, syndicator Key Networks and Beasley Media Group. The group has launched a “Backstage Country” digital platform – backstagecompany.net — and eventually will add an app. “We have a great stable of country writers who will be creating great country content to go on this platform that we hope to grow,” Chase says. “We want to extend the brand beyond a radio show.”
Parr launched “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” during the pandemic, inspired by a run at Cumulus Media that had just ended. Parr says that while he was at Cumulus, he had the idea of traveling to meet the affiliates and discovered that placed him in uncharted territory.
“I got the same answer from every affiliate,” he says. “They said, ‘We’ve never had a nationally syndicated radio host come to Albuquerque, come to Detroit, come to Jasper, Indiana.’ I said, let’s take the words ‘nationally syndicated’ out, and let’s just say I’m the guy that’s a part of your team. What can I do to help you in your market?'”
When Parr left Cumulus, he knew exactly what he wanted to do – and it was an idea conceived on Tracy Lawrence’s tour bus. Parr needed to travel to an Illinois affiliate that wasn’t near an airport. He knew Lawrence was going to the same place and asked how he was getting there. When Lawrence invited him to ride his bus with him – including to the singer’s show the night before – Parr accepted.
“I brought my radio gear and did my radio show from his bus,” Parr says. “I introduced Tracy at his show, and he and I went and played golf.”
The next day, when Lawrence and Parr arrived at their destination, Randy Houser and Travis Denning were there, so Parr brought them onto his show, as well.
“Our listeners are getting to go across the country and experience what it’s like to actually be on a bus,” Parr says. “If you’re in California or Indiana or somewhere in Texas and you’ve never been to Illinois, I’m going tell you how to get there. But I’m also going to paint this picture of being in the middle of a cornfield with 10,000 people, doing a country show.'”
Parr describes “Shawn Parr’s Backstage Country” as “the family getting together and telling stories.” The host promises the interviews won’t be typical – there’s no filter.
“I’m kind of the conductor of the chaos,” he says. “We just want to have fun, and we want to let them just come in and let their hair down and just be themselves. I think that’s what my being a host will bring out of them. It’s not a script. It’s not them reading liners. It’s us just having a good time.” — Cindy Watts