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Pictured (L-R): Trisha Yearwood, Charlie Chase, Bob Kingsley, Lorianne Crook, Garth Brooks. Photo: Chris Hollo

“You guys made country music famous,” Garth Brooks told Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase, as Brooks and his fellow superstar entertainer and wife Trisha Yearwood stood onstage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Powerhouse duo Crook & Chase have helped promote country music via country music news, interviews and artist performances for 34 years, via television, radio and online formats.

Brooks and Yearwood were on hand to honor Crook & Chase with the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award, during an event held on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry on Monday evening (Feb. 20).

“You can’t imagine having anything to do with this business and not walking through those doors,” Yearwood said. “You guys made us look cool. If you get to be on Crook & Chase, people see you. I don’t know how many homes we got to be in because of you guys.”

Legendary radio host Bob Kingsley earned the inaugural honor in 2014, then decided to make the honor an annual event for members of the industry to be honored on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Joe Galante earned the honor in 2015, as did Jim Ed Norman in 2016.

Among the artists who participated in the evening with performances, appearances and taped messages were Trace Adkins, Moe Bandy, John Conlee, Billy Dean, Tareva Henderson, Tracy Lawrence, John Michael Montgomery, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Skaggs, T.G. Sheppard, Doug Stone, Tanya Tucker, The Whites and Mark Wills.

More congratulatory words came from music industry members including Steve Buchanan, Robert K. Oermann, Kip Kirby, Kathy Martingale, Chuck Long, Burt Dubrow, Katie Haas, Kelly Sutton, Terri Bumgarner, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern and more.

Video tributes were sent from Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Chris Young, Charlie Daniels, Blake Shelton, Clint Black, Toby Keith, Reba, Ricky Van Shelton, Darius Rucker, and Dolly Parton.

The evening benefitted the Opry Trust Fund, which has supported the Nashville music community for 50 years. Approximately 50 industry members are aided each year through the organization.

“We feel like we’ve grown up in the business with you guys,” Crook said. “Thank you for trusting us with your artists. It’s been a beautiful, life changing dance.”

Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase accept the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award. Photo: Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry

In 1982, Crook was hosting her own show in Nashville, while Chase was also hosting his own show at another Nashville station, when producer Jim Owens saw them and put them together to form Crook & Chase in 1983. They began on the newly-founded network TNN (The Nashville Network) in 1983, under the banner This Week In Country Music. In 1986, the show became known as Crook & Chase, country music’s first national news and entertainment show, and ran until 1993, when it became known as Music City Tonight, when Crook & Chase replaced Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now.

CMA CEO Sarah Trahern noted that at one point, TNN had nearly 23 hours of Crook & Chase per week, on either TNN or in syndication. One year, seven of the Top 10 shows on TNN were attributed to Crook & Chase.

“Virtually every country star in the last 30 years has appeared on one of the many iterations of Crook & Chase on radio or on television,” Trahern said.

After 554 episodes, Music City Tonight signed off in 1995 at the height of country’s boom and the duo morphed Crook & Chase into a nationally syndicated talk show.

In the 2000s, Crook & Chase would return to television on RFD-TV. Lorianne hosted 180 episodes of Celebrity Kitchen on GAC-TV in 2003-2004.

Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase are members of the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Their radio show, The Crook & Chase Countdown, is now in its 27th year.

Chase brought his trademark humor in accepting the honor, saying, “The biggest reward about this award is it has Garth and Trisha’s fingerprints on it!”

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