Mayor Tim Burchett welcomed Jack Ryan to his new home at Merle FM on Thursday, April 12. Photo by Dan Andrews.

The staff of radio station Merle 96.7 (WMYL/Knoxville) was pleased to learn last Wednesday that it has received two nominations by The Academy of Country Music.  Merle FM is nominated for Station of the Year – Medium Market.  Jack Ryan, host of Merle’s Afternoon Drive show, is nominated for On-Air Personality of the Year.

“This is becoming a banner year for us,” says station owner Ron Meredith.  “Our audience has grown incredibly in such a short period of time.  We’re East Tennesseans.  We program our music to East Tennesseans.  And Jack Ryan brought a loyal audience of East Tennesseans with him when he joined Merle FM.  In a market that in the past has been dominated by huge heritage stations flush with corporate dollars, we are proud to have achieved such recognition while remaining a local community radio station. It’s an honor to have this much support for what we’re doing here.”

Jack Ryan, host of The Afternoon Drive on Merle FM, is a native East Tennessean, having worked in East Tennessee radio practically all of his adult life.  “All of this support is a blessing, and it’s humbling.  I get free reign with what I say and do on the air.  The corporate office of this station is five steps away from my microphone, and says yes quickly to new ideas.  When the listeners are calling in and requesting songs you’re already playing, and they’re showing up for our events, you know you’re on the right track.”

Both Meredith and Ryan started their radio careers while in high school.  At age 25, Meredith purchased his first station, initially sleeping in a sleeping bag in an upstairs apartment at his flagship station WYSH AM 1380 in Clinton.  So far he has bought, sold, operated, or signed on more than ten radio stations in the area.  Meredith owns WYSH/AM 1380 FM 101.1 in Clinton, WGAP AM 1400 in Maryville, and WMYL 96.7 Merle FM in Knoxville with an eye on continued growth in East Tennessee.

Ryan is a Knoxville native and has been in country radio for 12 years.  Ryan has won a CMA award, and this would be his first ACM.  A nomination in this category means the association has chosen his show as one of the top five country shows across America.