Announcements were made yesterday by SiriusXM that as many as 475 people would be laid off this month as part of a restructuring designed to increase profitability for the major satellite radio provider. It was initially interpreted as yet another tech company downsizing in the face of anticipated slowdowns this year.
This morning we have learned that among those let go is the popular host of Bluegrass Junction, Kyle Cantrell, who has spent the past 21 years with the network.
Kyle has been working in radio since 1980, when he started at WMTS in Murfreesboro, TN, moving to powerhouse WSM in Nashville not long thereafter. While at WSM, he rose to the role of AM Program Director in addition to his on air time. He also took on the honor of being an announcer on the Grand Ole Opry.
The job at XM Radio come his way in 2002, starting at their Classic Country channel, before taking over Bluegrass Junction in 2005, a channel Felton Pruitt had established. When Sirius and XM merged in 2008, both had bluegrass channels, which were then reduced to a single channel. Terry Herd had programmed bluegrass on Sirius from 2000 until 2006 when he left to run his own broadcast radio business, Bluegrass Radio Network.
Though those two bluegrass channels were distinct entities before the merger, Cantrell expressed his appreciation for the assistance he received from Herd in getting started and finding his way at XM in the early days.
Kyle has also voiced other channels on the network during his tenure.
Cantrell has been named the IBMA Broadcaster of the Year five times, and was inducted into the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2019.
No word yet about the fate of the other hosts on Bluegrass Junction, though they have been notified of Kyle’s departure.
In response to this news, he had this to say…
“I’ve had 20 years at SiriusXM — two and a half years as a show host, and 18 years programming and hosting Bluegrass Junction. It’s been an incredible run, and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished. I’m also grateful to SiriusXM for the opportunity to be a part of their team. I look forward to continuing to be engaged with the bluegrass community going forward, and I am thankful for the many friends I have made in the industry, and for all their support.”
For many thousands of people in the US and Canada, Kyle Cantrell has been the voice of bluegrass music for nearly two decades. He will be missed.