As someone who has been attending the Grand Ole Opry for over 35 years and having been a fan of the show even longer, I have a few ideas and opinions on things that I think would make the show better. These are really nothing special, just some random thoughts from a fan:
I would like to see the Grand Ole Opry institute a Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame. Why not? There is a Hall of Fame for just about everything else. It could be incorporated with the Opry Museum right next to the Opry House. As far as membership, I would automatically include any Opry member who is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and any Opry member who has celebrated their 50th anniversary with the show. Other than that, perhaps several new inductees could be elected yearly, with the offical induction taking place during the Opry's birthday celebration in October.
Speaking of the Opry Museum, while they did update some of the displays a few years back, it is long over due for some new exhibits. For a long time, they have had exhibits honoring several great Opry stars including Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Jimmy Dickens among others. Hank Snow was honored in the past. I think it is time to freshen things up and honor a few more stars. People such as Uncle Dave Macon, Red Foley, Rod Brasfield, George Morgan, Pee Wee King and many others. Also, I would include more video, such as showing past Opry shows. Not the few clips they show in the Opry Shop, but more from their older files.
In the Opry House, along the back wall in the lobby, there are black & white, full size photos of several past Opry stars including Roy Acuff, Patsy Cline, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe and a few others. Listed on the photos are the dates of their Opry induction and the date of their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. I would expand the picture display to include all the Opry members who have passed away and are members of the Hall of Fame. While the picture of Jim Reeves is fine and he is one of the greats in the history of country music, he did leave the Opry. Porter Wagoner was an Opry member for over 50 years and his picture should be up there also.
When you go to the Opry now, they give you a free souvenir program for that night's show. It is pretty basic with the line-up listed and a few ads. That is about it. A few years back, they actually sold a souvenir program for 50cents that was about 8 by 11, and featured not only the line-up for that weekend, but a page listing all the Opry members with a little fact about each one and had a page called the Opry Spotlight, that honored an Opry member, usually someone who was celebrating an anniversary with the show, or a new member. When you look at the program now, you have no way of knowing who is an Opry member of not, and it is not something you really want to keep. And by selling something at a very low price, you would be adding value to that item and Gaylord would be making some money on the deal, which they are always looking to do.
I would like to see the Opry get back to 2 shows each Saturday night and get back to the 6:30pm to Midnight Opry shows. There is just no excuse for a single 2 hour show on Saturday night. I am ok with the Friday Night Opry being just 1 show and a shorter show. But the tradition of the Saturday night show needs to return.
I would also like to see a reduction in the commercial time and more music. The commercials during the actual segments have not really changed, but between the segments at the top and bottom of the hour, they seem to be adding several commercials from advertisers that are not part of the Opry. Springer Farms and Martha White come to mind. On the radio they don't sound so bad, but when you are at the live show, it breaks down the flow of the show. Usually between the 3rd and 4th segment, they have not only a couple of commercials, but a few public service announcements also. They need to keep the flow of the show going.
I would like to see the return of at least 1 string band, featured on each show during the weekend. The Opry started on the basis of the string bands, and it is important for the Opry not to forget its past, although at times it seems as if they want to.
And, finally I would address the issue regarding the quality of the Opry line-up. There are too many weak shows that are just not worth the ticket price. If I had to program the Opry, in each half hour segment I would have a minimum of 4 artists. I would have the host, then perhaps a newer artist, then an Opry legend, with each of those artists doing 1 song, and then finish it up with a bigger name talent, who could do 2 songs. Oh, I would also bring back the encores. If you notice, they do not allow any artist to sing more than they are supposed to. There is too much clock watching and if an earlier segment in the show runs over, they will cut out a song later in the show to bring it in on time. If an artist gets a standing ovation, bring them back for another song. After all, Gaylord owns the radio station and the Opry and they are just paying themselves for the time. It doesn't seem to both the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree that runs over just about every Saturday night.
Those are just a few of my opinions and ideas. I am sure there are others.