What do the CMA Awards and Amarillo, Texas have in common? Well, that answer is me, Braden Smith. I have been an active voting member of the Country Music Association (CMA) for nearly 10 years. It is an honor to be a member of this organization that I don't take lightly and an incredible feeling to be a part of the country music world. With the CMA Awards just behind us, I thought it might be fun to share a little about my country music journey.

Let me start by saying that I am very blessed. I have had the chance to meet some of the biggest names in country music and call many of them friends. You will not find a more friendly and welcoming music genre than country music. Country artists and the country music community are the nicest, most down to earth, celebrities you will ever meet (I know for a fact many don't want to be called celebrities, but they are). Anyone that has worked with other genres of music will back this fact up. The first time I met Brad Paisley was backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Brad was just coming off stage from accepting his 10 year Opry anniversary plaque when he stopped to talk to me. His security team was ushering him past me, when I said "way to go Brad and congrats." Brad stopped in his tracks, held out his hand to stop the security guy, and stood and talked to me for what seem like forever. We chatted music and football. That is just the kind of guy he is.

I've met legends like Mel Tillis, Little Jimmy Dickens, Charlie Daniels, and the Oak Ridge Boys. First time I met the Oak Ridge Boys, was when we had breakfast together. Yep, I ate Cracker Barrel biscuits and gravy with the Oak Ridge Boys HAHA. Then there is Garth and Trisha, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Kix Brooks, Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins, Hank Jr., Jake Owen, Eric Church, Keith Urban, Chris Young, Justin Moore, Kelly Pickler, The Band Perry, Scotty McCreery, Lindsay Ell, Lauren Alaina, Tim McGraw, Cole Swindell, and more I know I am forgetting. I have even hung out with Lionel Richie at the CMT building in Nashville. You want to hear something really crazy? I have been to the Grand Ole Opry several times and I have never been through the front doors. Each time I was invited to use the artist entrance and watched the show from on the stage. One day I would like to see it from the actual seats!

I don't want to sound like I am bragging and name dropping, but I am. Like I said before, I am very blessed to have seen and done what I have been doing for many years now. I wanted to share all this with you because I love country music, I love the people, and I love talking about our favorite music genre. I think it is fun to swap crazy stories and I have had a few of them. It can really put the people we see on stage, see on TV, or hear on the radio into perspective.

I started in broadcasting doing TV. I was a weatherman and director for over 5 years. When I started in broadcasting, I didn't plan on being in radio. But the opportunity came up with a station I was working weekends at in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I made the move over to radio and have never looked back. My journey took me from Westminster, Maryland, to Fredericksburg, Virginia, then on to Richmond, Virginia, and Amarillo just 3 years ago. I have been a weekend guy, mid-day show host, afternoon guy, Program Director, and Operations Manager. In my current role as Operations Manager, I oversee the programming of 5 radio stations in Amarillo - 101.9 The Bull, 96.9 KISS FM, Mix 94.1, Thunder 98.7, and NewsTalk 940. Daily, I program everything you hear on The Bull and host afternoons.

If you ever want to stop in and see what we do at the radio station or you want to see what it would take to get into the business, never hesitate to reach out. @BradenRadio on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Or you can always just email me at braden.smith@townsquaremedia.com. Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the country music world and me.