From the Nashville Tennessean:
The Grand Ole Opry apparently is safe as the new major shareholders in its parent company, Gaylord Entertainment, take their seats on the company's board of directors this week.
Robert Rowling, the billionaire Texas hotel owner whose TRT Holdings, Inc. last year bought 14.9 percent of Gaylord's stock and engineered a deal for two seats on the board, said after this morning's annual shareholders' meeting that he is "huge country music fan" and doesn't intend to tamper with the Opry.
"The new board members intend to be great stewards of that asset," he said of Gaylords fabled entertainment venue, which has been a Nashville staple since it began in 1925 as a live weekly music performance on WSM radio, which also is owned by Gaylord.
When Gaylord Chairman and Chief Executive Colin V. Reed opened the floor to questions at the end of today's meeting, only one was asked, by shareholder Stacy Harris of Nashville.
She wanted to know if the board, with another two new members representing GAMCO Asset Management Inc, which bought 13.6 percent of the stock last year, would remain supportive of the Opry-which she said was her only interest in Gaylord.
"I think to a person, they revere the Grand Ole Opry and what it stands for, " Reed said of the new board members.
Reed said the board would be "looking at the overall plan" for the Opry at its September meeting, but did not indicate whether any change in direction is being considered. But during his remarks to the shareholders, he said that in spite of the bad economy, "The Opry had a decent year in 2008." He said it added a new weekly performance, and also opened a new store on Broadway in Nashville, called Opry Originals, to cater to fans of the country music showcase.