Lon Helton Named Recipient of CRS 2020 Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award

(Nashville, Tenn. – Sept. 23, 2019) The Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) have announced Lon Helton, Publisher/CEO of Country Aircheck and host of Westwood One’s Country Countdown USA, as the recipient of the 2020 Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award, which will be presented during Country Radio Seminar 2020. Helton will be recognized at the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

The Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award is given at the discretion of the CRB Board of Directors to recognize an individual in the Country Radio industry who has displayed a magnanimous spirit of caring and generosity in service to their community.

Lon Helton is one of the founders of Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon program, a fund-raising effort that is quickly approaching the $1 billion mark.

His advocacy for St. Jude with Country radio not only stretches back to the very beginning, but it has also manifested itself in his dual career tracks. With Country Countdown USA, he and Audio Productions’ Jim Reyland purchase guitars that are signed by Helton’s guest artists. The instruments go to St. Jude and, ultimately, radio stations and listeners/donors; this happens every week, all year long and has been going on for years.

During his 20+ years at Radio & Records and now 13 at Country Aircheck, support for St. Jude has been a pillar. More than just editorial coverage and gratis-advertising, Helton has demonstrated why St. Jude is so important to him, and has inspired many others to support St. Jude as well.

Helton is also a longtime member of the CMA Board of Directors, as well as serving on the organization’s philanthropic arm, the Country Music Foundation. Since its founding, the CMA Foundation has invested more than $25 million to enrich music education programs across the United States.

RJ Curtis, Executive Director of CRB/CRS commented, “The CRB Board of Directors has made a terrific choice in selecting Lon Helton as our Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award recipient. Lon’s work in helping to establish, and then advance the St. Jude Country Cares radiothon program stands alone, but there are many other, quieter efforts he’s championed as well. Recognizing unselfish, unheralded examples of benevolence is the original spirit of this award, and a fitting tribute to the character of Tom Rivers.”

Lon Helton commented about the honor, saying “I’m fortunate to have been entrusted with a very large megaphone for the last 36 years. Whether at Radio & Records, Country Aircheckor Country Countdown USA, it has been a privilege to champion and chronicle the charitable efforts of Country radio, Nashville labels and Country artists. It is immensely gratifying to be even a tiny part of ‘Country Cares for St. Jude Kids,’ which began as Randy Owen’s challenge to Country radio at CRS 1989 and is now closing in on $1 Billion in donations. It is an honor and privilege to serve on industry boards that do so much for so many. Receiving this award is especially humbling because it is named after long-time friend Tom Rivers, who set such a high bar for public service.”

This award is named in honor of CRB Board member Tom Rivers, who died in 2004 at age 38 of bronchial asthma. Rivers, known for his work at WQYK, Tampa/St. Petersburg and WUSN, Chicago, was highly regarded for his public service. Past recipients of the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award include “Dollar” Bill Lawson, Dan Halyburton, Peter Smyth, Jeff Smulyan, Mary Quaas, George G. Beasley, and more.

About Lon Helton: Lon Helton's 48-year industry career began as a disc jockey in Monmouth, IL following graduation from Monmouth College. On-air and program management posts took him to Galesburg, IL, Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. He joined the radio and music industry trade publication Radio & Records as Country Editor in 1983 and became Nashville Bureau Chief in 1986. When Billboard Magazine bought R&R in 2006, Helton launched the Country radio and music industry trade publication, Country Aircheck. A 2006 inductee into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, Helton has hosted Westwood One's Country Countdown USA since its inception in 1992. He has been honored as the CMA National Broadcast Personality of the Year an unequalled nine times – 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. He was named the ACM National Broadcast Personality of the Year an unprecedented five times -- 2009, 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019. He has also hosted a variety of nationally syndicated Country radio shows since 1984, including the current Country’s Inside Trak, plus Country Close-up, Nashville Live, Country Star Traks and Listen In. Helton has served on the Country Music Association Board of Directors for the past 34 years and led the organization as President and Chairman from 1999-2002. He is also an 18-year member of the board of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Prior non-profit board involvement includes 25 years on the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Country Radio Advisory Council and 12 years on the Country Music Retirement Community Board. He is currently Chairman of the Board for the National Corvette Museum. Lon has been married to Anne for 47 years. They have two children, Amanda and Brad.

About Country Radio Seminar: Country Radio Seminar is an annual convention designed to educate and promote the exchange of ideas and business practices in the Country music industry, with specific emphasis on issues relevant to Country radio. Country Radio Seminar 2020 is set for Feb. 19-21 at the Omni Nashville Hotel, and will be held at the Omni Nashville Hotel. Registration for Country Radio Seminar is currently $599 per person and is available for purchase at www.CountryRadioSeminar.com. Additionally, CRS host hotel, Omni Nashville, is accepting reservations. For more information, visit www.CountryRadioSeminar.com, and follow CRS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additional information can be obtained by calling 615-327-4487.

Darcie Van Etten