Friday, February 9, 2018

Steve Buchanan Announces Retirement

Opry Entertainment Group President Steve Buchanan announced on Thursday that he is stepping down in June to take some time for himself and pursue personal projects. "I haven't really wanted to invest a lot of effort or brainpower into figuring out the next move," Buchanan said. "I have film and television ideas and projects, and I'm interested in seeing where they can go and if they can go and when they can go. I really just want to be open to considering new things."

Steve Buchanan has been with the parent company of the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium for 33 years. When he joined the staff at the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, he was the organization's first marketing manager. At the time, he said he had not budget, but was driven to find ways to revitalizing the historic radio show. At the time, popular opinion was that the Opry's relevance to country music fans had faded and many artists and members had lost interest in participating. Buchanan's first step was to entice the public back through the doors and then bridge the gap between the Grand Ole Opry and Music Row. With limited resources to work with, the solution he took was through basic public relations and promotional plans.

One the Opry was on the rebound, Buchanan shifted priorities to the revitalization of the Ryman Auditorium. He said that he had been enamored with country music's Mother Church, but the building had spent years in disrepair. Buchanan created a plan that he hoped would be a catalyst for the space's restoration. His plan worked and he oversaw the Ryman's initial renovation.

"The Opry and the Ryman have been central passions in my life for over 33 years to be exact," Buchanan said. "I look at it as my attachment will never diminish, but there are other things I want to do and accomplish. I have a mix of loss, fear and excitement. But, it feels like the time to make that leap."

Steve Buchanan is also the executive producer of the television show "Nashville" which is ending its run also. The show, originally starring Connie Britton and Charles Esten, was a boon for both Opry Entertainment and the city of Nashville.

I know that Steve along with Pete Fisher, who he hired to be the Opry's general manager in June 1999, brought a lot of changes to the Opry, some of which were controversial. However, during his tenure he added new members, many of whom do show up to support the show, brought the Opry into the modern era through the use of social media and web streaming the show, and significant improvements to the Opry House itself. The entire Opry experience is much different today than it was 33 years ago and it has brought new fans to the show. Many forget that back in the 1980's and 1990's, many considered the Opry a living museum of country music, with the same same group of members performing the same songs week after week. As the older members passed away, and some of the star power disappeared, attendance suffered. The show became old and tired. I can remember shows that I attended during that period that had less than 1,000 attending, especially during the winter months.

As I said, there were some decisions that created controversy, especially to us older Opry fans. Less veterans and legends scheduled, significantly higher ticket prices, shorter shows and less artists per show, however the show did flourish and grow. And I do believe that Steve had a vision and passion for the Opry and for that, we should all offer him our thanks.

I wish Steve Buchanan good luck in his retirement and success in his future products.


  1. Ricky Skaggs did country music both nights on the Opry this weekend. He used to play mostly lead guitar in his country days and I was wondering what instrument he played, since he can play just about everything !!! Anyone know for sure ??? thanks - Flushing Mich Dashmann

  2. Now sure about his instrument of choices last night but my guess is it’s no coincidence he’s play more country from time to time to remind Hall of Fame voters of his impact on bringing back traditional country in the 80s. He’s got to be on the short list but it remains to be seen if his reputation as Picky Ricky (aka prickly personality) keeps him out a little while longer in favor of Brooks & Dunn or The Judds.

  3. Makes you wonder if Gene Watson, who absolutely SINGS the heck out of a country song will always fall a little short of the Hall of Fame. Also a singer like Vern Gosdin ---these guys will both leave you in tears as the very best cryers after George Jones. Dashmann - Flushing. Michigan

  4. I've gave up on predictions and speculation. They are going to elect who they are going to elect. (For the most part) its going to be past CMA winners from the veterans and Modern categories. The rotating categories are somewhat of a joke as well. For instance the only session or tourning musicians ever elected have been the "A" team from the Nashville sound and forward eras. The oldest non-performing songwriters ever elected have been the Bryant's. The fault, I believe, is within the nomination and election process. I'm certain they are a group of people only familiar with the Nashville Country Music genre of the last 30 years, and do not realize how big of stars Bradley Kincaid or Lulu Belle & Scotty was 75 to 90 years ago. The CMA heads need sits down and realize they need a historic/pioneer/golden age committee of historians, to nominate and elect people from the beginnings of country music to the mid 1960's. Until that is done the fans are just grinding their wheels.

  5. Daryle Singletary died monday at his home unexpectedly he was 46 years old.

  6. Your comments are worthy of thought. I miss the old real Opry but it does have to change.