When it comes to President Bush, the Dixie Chicks are singing a different tune. But not every country radio station is playing it.
Natalie Maines, the Grammy Award-winning group's lead singer, apologized Friday for her criticism of President Bush and possible war against Iraq. That didn't stop some stations in Texas and other parts of the country from pulling Dixie Chicks songs off their programs.
Radio stations started getting angry calls from listeners after Maines told a London audience Monday, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
The Dixie Chicks are touring Europe, supporting their recent release "Home," where Maines said Friday they are "witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war." Maines said she is a mother and wants to see "every possible alternative exhausted" before lives are lost.
In her apology, Maines said, "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."
Bush was born in Connecticut but grew up in West Texas. He has a ranch near Crawford, Texas and served as governor for six years. Maines is a native of Lubbock.
"We've had a huge listener reaction and movement against the statements," said Paul Williams, program director for KPLX-FM in Dallas-Fort Worth, the nation's fifth largest radio market.
On the Web site for KSCS-FM, also in Dallas-Fort Worth, was a photo of the three-member group, with black tape over Maines' mouth. The headline at www.kscs.com read: "Have The Dixie Chicks Gone Too Far?"
Ted Stecker, KSCS program director, said he had never had this kind of response from an audience during his 30 years in the music business.
"A lot could depend on how the Dixie Chicks respond and face their fans," he said.
In Kansas City, WDAF set trash cans outside the radio station for people to throw their Dixie Chicks CDs away. The station has boycotted the group's music on air, and its Web site displayed more than 800 e-mails from listeners. Most people voiced outrage about Maines' comment and praised the station for its boycott.
A few voiced support for the group and for their right to freely speak their opinions about the country and the president.
But Tom Fontaine, an on-air personality at KILT-FM in Houston, said, "We stand behind our president and we are proud he is from Texas."
The station has suspended playing the Dixie Chicks.
"We have run polls and the overwhelming majority of the calls have been for us not to play the Dixie Chicks," said Fontaine.
El Paso station KHEY-FM has received complaints and won't play any Dixie Chicks songs this weekend, said Program Director Steve Gramzay. The temporary ban will "give everybody a chance to cool down," he said.
The Dixie Chicks' U.S. leg of their "Top of the World Tour" was scheduled to kick off May 1 in Greenville, S.C.'s Bi-Lo Center to a sold-out crowd. But attendance is now more uncertain.
Jill Weninger, the center's marketing director, said the first call she received Friday morning was from a woman who felt Greenville didn't need the group after its "anti-American" statements. She said she also received two e-mails but that was the extent of the complaints.
"One person that e-mailed said she had tickets but she wouldn't be coming," Weninger said.
The Bi-Lo Center sold out during the Dixie Chicks' first appearance and again this year on the first day they went on sale, Weninger said.
After more than 250 listeners called in a two-hour period Friday morning to complain about Maines' comments, WTDR-FM in Talladega, Ala., dropped the Dixie Chicks.
"The emotion of the callers telling us about their fathers and sons and brothers who are overseas now and who fought in previous wars was very specific," said Jim Jacobs, president of Jacobs Broadcast Group, which includes WTDR.
In North Platte, Neb., a radio station joined the boycott. "Due to un-American comments made by the Dixie Chicks very recently in London, we here at KXNP/KODY will be putting their music," Program and Operations Director Tony Lama said in a prepared statement Friday.
The Dixie Chicks, who performed their hit "Landslide" at the Feb. 23 Grammy Awards, won four Grammys at this year's show, including Best Country Album for "Home." Their next stop is Wednesday in Munich, where American policies against Iraq are widely criticized. They return to Texas on May 21 in Austin.
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