By Mike Copeland
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Willie’s Place is not Willie’s place anymore.
Travel Centers of America will turn the iconic truck stop at Carl’s Corner north of Hillsboro into a Petro Stopping Center for motorists. Country music legend Willie Nelson and partners opened Willie’s Place there in 2008. It served as a combination fuel stop, saloon, gift shop and performance hall.
When Sirius satellite radio changed the original Willie’s Place programming they dropped Tony Booth, Johnny Bush, Frenchie Burke, Amber Digby, Landon Dodd, Tony Douglas, Dottsy, Bobby Flores, Tea Goans, Jake Hooker, Georgette Jones, Billy Mata, Darrell McCall, Mona McCall, Frankie Miller, Kimberly Murray, Joe Paul Nichols, Curtis Potter, Lonnie Spiker, Justin Trevino, Ron Williams and Leona Williams, and many others.
This article, written on a rainy Saturday morning in Windsor Missouri, reminds me more of Baxter Black than the features I usually write. Do you remember Readers Digest from years ago? We read “Humor in Uniform”, “All In A Day’s Work”, and “Life In These United States.”
With new-car sales down, Sirius XM Radio is desperately seeking new ways to infiltrate the airwaves. On Thursday, the company said it’s planning a new service that can be streamed on Apple devices and confirmed that it’s been discussing the possibility of bundling its service into DirecTV Group cable packages. The company has been evaluating several initiatives “to make the Sirius XM content and experience more ubiquitous.” I do not have an Apple device. I do not want ubiquitous. I want Willies Place back to the way it was.
With the addition of Bill Mack on Willies Place, XM-13/Sirius-64, many listeners are confused. I read all of your emails and take your calls. Yes, there was a period of confusion before Bill Mack arrived at Willies Place. Now that a schedule is starting to stabilize many of you want to know when our friends are coming home. Clearly Kilroy in the mornings, Bill Mack on Clarence’s swing shift, and Catfish in the afternoons would be a good combination.
There are many choices for country music listeners. At The Country Classics we are not limited to music by the legends of country music. We like to feature traditionalists, both young and not so young. My main concern is the ability to keep the music alive. Texas seems to be the place for honky tonk, with new songs and great cover songs. However, as I research musicians, and their songs, I can confirm that Nashville is alive and well. The key is in the promotion.
With the merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio Arbitron ratings seem to mean very little. Relative to Willies Place I see almost no listeners tuning in Howard Stern instead. Arbitron said: “XM does a little better as far as eclectic offerings go. Its best AQH number is for ’80s/’90s/now Mainstream AC “The Blend,” and Modern AC “Flight 26.” But the next highest numbers are for the Classic Country “Willie’s Place.”