American Country Countdown
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|Genre||Music chart show|
|Running time||Approx. 3 hrs. and 55 mins. (including commercials)|
|Host(s)||Don Bowman (1973–1978)
Bob Kingsley (1978–2005)
Kix Brooks (2006–present)
|Creator(s)||Casey Kasem, Don Bustany and Tom Rounds|
|Air dates||since October 6, 1973|
|No. of episodes||Approximately 2,150 (to date)|
|Audio format||Stereophonic sound|
American Country Countdown, also known as ACC or American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks, is an internationally syndicated radio program which counts down the top 30 country songs of the previous week, from No. 30 to No. 1, according to the Mediabase country chart. Begun in 1973, the show was originally hosted by comedian Don Bowman until 1978, when Bob Kingsley succeeded him as host. After Kingsley left in 2006 to host his own show, Kix Brooks (one half of the country music duo Brooks & Dunn) succeeded him in January 2006.
Based on the success of American Top 40, Casey Kasem and Don Bustany, together with Tom Rounds of Watermark, created a country version of the top 40 program called American Country Countdown. The weekly, three-hour program premiered the weekend of October 6, 1973; was produced by Bustany; and hosted by comedian Don Bowman. The Billboard Hot Country Singles chart was the official chart for this show until August 2009, when ACC began using the Mediabase country chart as its source.
In the spring of 1974 when the show was up and running, Bustany tapped Bob Kingsley, who had been program director at country station KLAC-Los Angeles, to be ACC's producer. Kingsley molded the fledgling program, then heard on 95 stations, into a major success. Kingsley abruptly replaced Bowman starting with the May 6, 1978 program, mentioning only on his first show as permanent host that Bowman had left the program to pursue other aspects of his career.
Beginning with the January 11, 1986, broadcast, ACC expanded to four hours, adding several new features, including an "ACC Archives" feature (similar to one featured on American Top 40 several years earlier, with a chronological playback of No. 1 hits of the 1970s, and later on the 1980s) and an "ACC Calendar," spotlighting a classic country artist, song, important innovation or event in country music.
Kingsley hosted the program until December 2005, when Kingsley started a competing radio show, Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40.
Beginning with the February 19, 2011, program, ACC reduced the length of the countdown from 40 songs to 30. Citadel Vice President of Programming and Distribution Bryan Switzer told Radio-Info.com that the switch came at the request of the affiliates who "were uncomfortable with the level of unfamiliarity the songs in the 30s had on their stations." Additional songs from the current week's guest(s) or recurrents were played to fill out the program, in place of song Nos. 31-40. However, ACC's website continues to list the top 40 songs of the week.
The Fox Network's award ceremony, American Country Awards which started in 2010 was cancelled and replaced by the American Country Countdown Awards in 2014. The ratings for ACCA dropped dramatically compared to the 2013 American Country Awards. According to TV By The Numbers (http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com) 18-49 Ratings/Share dropped from 1.4/4 to 0.9/3 and viewership dropped from 5.14 million to 3.39 million.
ACC broadcasts several special programs throughout the year. The most notable include:
- Christmas in America, was a six-hour program aired within the week leading up to or on Christmas Day, with interview clips from country singers sharing Christmas memories interspersed between songs. The first special aired in 1989. While the title and format continued with Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 production, ACC's version continued as American Country Christmas, with Brooks being joined by Ronnie Dunn (from 2006 to 2008); the 2009 special consisted of Brooks interviewing country music artists. In 2010, clips of Brooks' interviews with students at elementary schools from across the country were included in addition to the artist interviews.
- The Year End Countdown. From 1973 to 1998, the year-end special reviewed the top 100 country hits of the year; this was halved to 50 in 1979 and again from 1999 to 2004, trimmed to just the top 40 from 2005 to 2010, and cut to 30 starting in 2011 (with songs that "just missed" the top 30 played as extras). The most notable highlight is a montage of all the No. 1 songs included in the countdown's survey period (usually, the previous November to the current November, although this has included early December for a time in the late 1980s) before the host plays the year's top song.
Other special programs, usually centering on a theme or to promote a much-anticipated album that is about to go on sale, air throughout the year. Past specials have paid homage to the West, presented unusual or notable chart facts and performer accomplishments, counted down the top acts of all time, profiled a performer and presented the top female and male singers of the past decade.
During the early years, Kingsley (after he became the show's producer) was the fill-in host when Bowman was absent. During the Kingsley era, a top radio personality from one of ACC's affiliates filled in as host in Kingsley's absence. Kix Brooks did not assume hosting duties until January 21, 2006. Since 2006, either a top country music act or ACC executive producer Donna Britt has served as substitute host whenever Brooks was absent.
Reairing of older shows
In April 2015, Nash FM -- the media brand and network of country music stations owned by Cumulus Media -- announced it would begin reairing classic ACC programs from the Bob Kingsley era, starting the weekend of May 2. The show, featuring programs originally aired between 1990 and 2005, is three hours in length (meaning the first hour of four-hour programs will not be included).
The first aired ACC Rewind program featured an ACC show originally aired May 1, 1993.
ACC was named Billboard magazine's "Network/Syndicated Program of the Year: Country" from 1987 to 2002. Kingsley twice won the Country Music Association's National Broadcast Personality of the Year award (in 2001 and 2003).
When ACC premiered in October 1973, the show aired on just 45 stations. Today, the show is heard on more than 1,000 radio stations in the United States and worldwide, and can be heard on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
ACC is produced and distributed by Cumulus Media Networks; since 2007, the program has been distributed via Cumulus' Today's Best Country satellite network and, since 2013, on most Nash FM stations as well. Tom Rounds' syndication company, Radio Express, distributes the program to radio stations outside the United States.
- Hall, Claude, "Vox Jox," Billboard, June 15, 1974. Via Google Books, accessed 04-24-2015. 
- American Country Countdown radio broadcast, May 6, 1978.
- Ginsburg, Janice, "Syndicators as innovators," Billboard, March 8, 1986, page C-3. Accessed 04-26-2015. 
- "'American Country Countdown' Now Features 30 New Songs A Week, Not 40". Radio-Info.com. February 22, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
- "NASH Icon Partners With Bob Kingsley For ACC-Rewind," Media Confidential, April 17, 2015. Accessed 04-23-2015.
- "NASH To Launch 'American Country Countdown Rewind With Bob Kingsley'," All Access, April 17, 2015. Accessed 04-22-2015.
- Bachman, Katy, "Brooks to Host American Country Countdown." Mediaweek, November 9, 2005.
- Durkee, Rob. American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century. Schriner Books, New York City, 1999. ISBN 0-02-864895-1. Includes information about American Country Countdown.
- Stark, Phyllis, "ABC Taps Kix Brooks As New Countdown Host", Billboard Radio Monitor, November 9, 2005.
- Battistini, Pete, "American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970s)." Authorhouse.com, January 31, 2005. ISBN 1-4184-1070-5. Includes information about American Country Countdown.
- American Country Countdown official website
- Charis Music Group has digitally archived every ACC broadcast from the 1973 debut through 2004.
- Letter from Watermark announcing the then-in-development American Country Countdown series.
- Listen to American Country Countdown online - A partial list of radio stations carrying American Country Countdown, with scheduled broadcast times and streaming links.
- Top 100 Country Songs - A weekly Countdown of the top 100 country songs based on popularity and sales figures.