It's been roughly four months since country singer Morgan Wallen was banned from radio stations after his racial slur controversy in February. Despite being named ineligible at various country music awards shows following the incident, Wallen's record sales have continued to increase following his negative press. Now it seems that stations have decided to quietly lift his radio ban and it's gone largely unnoticed.
"There was no fanfare at all when people started adding it back in," one high-level radio exec told Variety. "It's been completely subdued and unnoticed. It's like a soft opening."
So far, Wallen's songs have started playing again on stations owned by major companies iHeartMedia, Cumulus Media, Cox Media and TownSquare Media. Other executives have opted to let the local stations decide for themselves if they'd like to start airing Wallen again. Apparently, for the most part, country radio has decided not to draw much attention to the fact they've decided to start playing Morgan Wallen's music again. They've just been slowly adding the country artist back into the mix. It appears he's making airwaves across the country as well because according to Variety, 121 of 160 country stations have claimed that they have aired Wallen's music at least once in the past week.
"Nobody is saying, 'Guess what's coming up next, a guy you haven't heard in six months!'" a radio insider explained.
"It's a thing that people are going to do quietly and not want to make a lot of noise about. It's like, have him blend back into the mosaic of the thing and not make a big deal about it." The insider added that Wallen's ongoing status is "the most over-discussed topic in the history of country music."
TMZ initially broke the news of Wallen's racial slur earlier this year after he was caught on camera using the n-word in his Tennessee neighborhood. Many of his fans have supported Wallen in the weeks after he was dropped by his talent agency, received the radio ban, and was suspended by his record label Big Loud. Fans even put up multiple billboards around Nashville supporting Wallen, coinciding with the 2021 ACM Awards and CMT Awards, protesting the organizations' decisions to disqualify the singer from the events. (Wallen was deemed ineligible for both the ACM Awards and the CMT Awards. He's ineligible for individual artist categories, such as Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, at this year's CMA Awards.)
All of this came after he was heavily scrutinized in 2020 after Saturday Night Live disinvited him from a planned October appearance for breaking coronavirus protocol during the peak of the pandemic. (He appeared on SNL two months later though and even poked fun at himself and the incident.)
As much as the country music industry has felt uneasy about the country singer in recent months, Wallen's country album has continued to be a success. Dangerous: The Double Album, which was released in the month prior to the racial slur controversy, hit number one on the US Billboard 200 and US Top Country Albums. He even hit number one on the album charts in the UK, Canada, and Australia. Though that wasn't the first time Wallen had released a successful country album. His debut in 2018, If I Know Me, was also a number one hit and helped earn him New Artist of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards and a nomination for New Male Artist of the Year at the 2020 ACM Awards.