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The event is the unofficial kickoff to the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. Following the induction of the newest members of the DJ and Radio Hall of Fame, a video tribute to Brooks & Dunn was presented, showing a montage of television appearances, award announcements and performance footage.
Dierks Bentley then took the stage to help honor Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who previously announced that they would be splitting after their tour this year. “It’s a real honor for me to be here,” Dierks told the crowd of industry executives, media and fellow stars like Luke Bryan and the trio of Love and Theft. “As a fan of country music, I love these guys.” Dierks and a backing band of bluegrass musicians paid further tribute to the duo with their rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s hit, “Red Dirt Road.” Kix and Ronnie thanked the crowd and, in particular, country radio for their continued support. They also addressed their breakup by emphasizing that each would likely pursue solo projects in the future. "Our new motto," laughed Kix, “is, ‘We’re splittin, but not quittin’.”
Taylor Swift added to the evening’s excitement when she made a surprise appearance on the stage to induct new Radio Hall of Fame member Mike Hammond, who has enjoyed a 36-year career in the radio business. She started off with a greeting in Japanese, explaining, “I just got back from Japan.” Taylor recalled meeting Mike at radio station WIVK in Knoxville, Tenn., when she was 15. Mike put her on the air and Taylor remembered, “I was just floored. I played a song on the afternoon drive show.” She then thanked the radio veteran for “giving me a chance.”