Morgan Wallen is experiencing major blowback from country radio after video of him using the “n-word” surfaced on TMZ.
According to a report in Variety, Cumulus Media directed its more than 400 stations around the country to remove Wallen’s songs from rotation. “Team, unfortunately country music star Morgan Wallen was captured on video Sunday evening using a racial slur. Effective immediately we request that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception. More to follow,” the message read. It was signed by Brian Philips, EVP of programming, and John Dimick, Cumulus’s head of programming operations.
iHeartMedia and Entercom quickly followed suit. A spokesperson for iHeart told Rolling Stone, “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately.” iHeartMedia owns more than 800 stations. A rep for Entercom, who operate 200-plus stations, said in part, “We’ve discussed the incident with our Country brand leadership team and together have made the decision to remove Morgan’s music from Entercom’s playlists.”
CMT, the country-music cable network, tweeted that it’s “in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms. We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion.”
The video of Wallen is reportedly from late Sunday night in Nashville and captures the country music streaming star — whose Dangerous: The Double Album has topped Rolling Stone‘s 200 chart for the past three weeks — appearing to be inebriated and shouting expletives, including the racial slur, to a group of friends. In response to the video, Wallen issued a statement on Tuesday night saying he was “embarrassed and sorry.”
“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better,” said Wallen, who also issued an apology back in October when he was booted off Saturday Night Live for breaking the sketch series’ Covid-19 safety protocols. He went on to make his SNL debut two months later.
The distancing from Wallen in light of the incident has extended to streaming services. On Wednesday morning, Wallen’s songs were noticeably absent from Apple Music’s flagship country playlist, Today’s Country, and Spotify’s Hot Country Songs. That country radio and streaming services are, at least temporarily, withholding Wallen’s songs from rotation is a remarkable development given the Tennessee native’s emergence as the genre’s next superstar.
Condemnation from Wallen’s peers came swift on social media. “The news out of Nashville tonight does not represent country music,” Kelsea Ballerini tweeted, prompting Maren Morris to reply, “It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”
After one Ballerini supporter tweeted that “if a female artist did 5% of the shit he has pulled she would be dropped immediately by everyone,” Morris replied, “Yup. we’d be dropped, endorsements lost, social pariahs to music row.”
Mickey Guyton commented on a news story about Wallen with “The hate runs deep,” before adding, “How many passes will you continue to give? Asking for a friend. No one deserves to be canceled [but] this is unacceptable … This is not his first time using that ‘unacceptable’ racial slur and we all [know] that. So what exactly are y’all going to do about it. Crickets won’t work this time.”
Country radio personalities, who are perennial cheerleaders for the genre and its stars, are also voicing their displeasure. Elaina Smith, host of Cumulus’ Nights With Elaina, tweeted that she’s “done” with Wallen. “After a long night of work in an industry I continue to fight for…trying to contribute towards making it a better, more inclusive space, I wake up to a man setting everyone’s work back 20 years. I’m disgusted.”