Bobby Bones has broken records, ruffled feathers and changed the expectations for country music DJ’s across the country. After moving his highly successful show from Austin to Nashville, Bobby Bones quickly became one of the most popular and controversial DJ’s in country music history.
His pop-culture infused banter and modern spin on the air gained him high praise and even higher listenership. Shortly after Clear Channel took his morning show nationwide, it became the biggest country music radio show in the mornings, with an audience of nearly 3 million listeners.
Although incredibly popular, Bones has also faced some harsh criticism from his shock-jock tendencies and controversial statements. In 2014, multiple billboards sprung up around Nashville blazoned with the words “GO AWAY BOBBY BONES,” which were erected by a mysterious organization only documented as “Anti-Bobby Bones.” Many argue that his modern and edgy take on country radio has changed the industry for the worse.
Who is Bobby Bones and why has he caused such a stir in country music? Here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about the man behind the microphone.
1. He came from humble beginnings
Bobby Bones, whose real name is Bobby Estell, was raised by a single mother in Arkansas. He spent most of his childhood in poverty and has been quoted as saying that he saw radio as being his only way out of his dire situation. He began working at the campus station of Henderson State University at the age of 17, and later became an on-air voice at KLAZ 105.9 while still in college. After graduating, he worked at a station in Little Rock, Arkansas before making his big move to Austin, Texas.
2. He gained popularity in Austin, not Nashville
After joining 96.7 KISS FM, Bones began working on-air during the morning drive time. He stayed on that time slot for ten years and developed the show into the top-rated morning show in Austin. During this period, the music format for the show was popular top-40 hits but was changed to country after its relocation to Nashville in 2013.
3. He’s been highly awarded
During his time as a DJ in Austin, he gained critical acclaim for his hands-on approach to radio. He was named Best Radio Personality by the Austin Music Awards for four years in a row and won the award for Best Radio Program in 2008. In April 2014, he and co-hosts Amy and Lunchbox won an Academy of Country Music Award for National On-Air Personality of the Year.
4. He’s caused mass chaos
Bones came under heavy criticism after erroneously triggering the national Emergency Alert System by playing a clip of an EAS test from 2011 over the airwaves. The audio of the old test triggered alerts to thousands of AT&T customers phones and televisions, which is designed to happen only during a national emergency. The event caused a huge public uproar and an investigation by the FCC into the incident.
5. He started a production company
In November 2014, Bones announced he was creating his own television production company named Right Side Blind Productions. The company, which is based out of Los Angeles, focuses on developing content for television networks. Bones has been quoted as saying he would also like to develop a television talk show based in Nashville.
6. He’s feuded with Kacey Musgraves
In January 2014, Bones aired a highly edited version of an interview done with singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, which intentionally made her seem rude and uninterested in the conversation. The two began exchanging heated messages back and forth publicly on Twitter until Bones finally posted an apology a couple months later.
7. He’s charitable
Big country stars like Jason Aldean have teamed up with Bones to hold large money-raising events for organizations like Susan G. Komen and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2013, he also created 30 Abes, a campaign dedicated to relieving hunger in Haiti. An event for the campaign broke a Guinness World Record with volunteers packing 530,064 meals in only 45 minutes.
8. He’s worth a chunk of change
Even though he’s relatively young and is still in the early stages of his career, he has already earned a yearly salary of 1 million dollars. With his combined experience, popularity and appeal, he now has a net worth of 5 million dollars. Those numbers are sure to increase as his career continues.
9. He’s dealt with personal tragedy
In a recent interview with the Tennessean, Bones described his rocky relationship with his mother, who suffered from alcohol and drug addiction. He found out about his mother’s death during his morning show, which was a result of her struggle with methamphetamines, but opted to complete the day’s show anyway. Although he attempted to use his success to help his mother financially, he could not help her with her addictions. Bones now speaks to groups of family members of those suffering from addiction to give advice and to share his experiences.
10. He’s not just on the radio
After his quick rise to on-air fame, other high profile opportunities emerged for Bones. He’s appeared on the popular television drama, “Nashville,” as himself and has sat in as a guest host on “Live! with Regis and Kelly.” He also makes regular appearances as host for music industry events around Nashville and has acted as a music correspondent for CNN.