SiriusXM, Pandora, iHeartRadio, CMT Pull Morgan Wallen’s Music in Wake of Racial Slur (Updated)

Chris Willman
·4-min read

UPDATED: SiriusXM, Pandora and CMT have joined the biggest radio chains in the nation, including iHeartRadio, Cumulus and Entercom, in pulling the plug for now on the music of Morgan Wallen, in the wake of a fast-brewing scandal over the country star being captured on tape using the N-word.

“Yes, we have pulled Morgan Wallen’s content from SiriusXM and Pandora,” a spokesperson for the satellite radio service and the streaming company said Wednesday afternoon.

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iHeartMedia had announced it was yanking Wallen from its more than 850 terrestrial radio outlets in the U.S. on Wednesday morning. “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately.”

And, said a spokesperson for the Entercom chain, “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent use of a racial slur, we’ve discussed the incident with our Country brand leadership team and together have made the decision to remove Morgan’s music from Entercom’s playlists.”

All of these companies are not running into any resistance from Wallen’s labels, Big Loud and Republic Records. Big Loud announced Wednesday that it is “suspending” its contract with Wallen, without commenting further on what that entails or how long the suspension might last.

With so many media companies distancing themselves from Wallen and his music on Wednesday, Cumulus, the nation’s second biggest chain, beat the rush by actually getting his songs removed the night before, soon after news of Wallen’s latest scandal broke. As reported in Variety late Tuesday night, Cumulus sent a directive to its 400-plus stations instructing program directors to take Wallen’s music off the air as of midnight central time.

“MORGAN WALLEN — EXTREMELY IMPORTANT,” read the header to the message sent out by Cumulus to individual stations. “Team, unfortunately country music star Morgan Wallen was captured on video Sunday evening using a racial slur. Effective immediately we request that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception. More to follow.”

DSPs also appear to be taking action, although not yet releasing official statements. As of late Tuesday night, Wallen’s songs no longer appeared on Spotify’s playlist of the top 50 Hot Country songs. And the star no longer appeared anywhere among the dozens of photos or track listings or playlists on the home page of Apple Music Country. This was a radical development for someone who has been called the biggest out-of-the-box streaming success in country music history.

Wallen’s initial statement — first released to TMZ and confirmed by his reps Tuesday evening — was to say: “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”

A video posted on TMZ Tuesday and reportedly recorded by Wallen’s neighbors shows him yelling profanities after a night out in Nashville, including the N-word.

Wallen’s fall from grace could not have interrupted a more celebratory time for him and his labels.

A story just two days ago in Variety trumpeted Wallen’s success with the headline “Republic Records Rules Album Chart.” It noted Wallen currently has the No. 1 album in the country for the third week in a row with “Dangerous: The Double Album” — the first time an album classified as country has topped the chart for three weeks since Taylor Swift’s “Red.” Even with these developments, his album is on track to be No. 1 for a fourth consecutive week on the next chart, something that hasn’t been accomplished by a country artist since Garth Brooks in the late ’90s. On the current songs chart, Wallen has five songs out of the top 20.

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