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Country Radio Hall of Famer Charlie Monk, Known as ‘The Mayor of Music Row,’ Dies at 84

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Country Radio Hall of Fame member Charlie Monk, known affectionately within the Nashville music industry as “The Mayor of Music Row,” died at his home in Nashville on Monday (Dec. 19). He was 84.

During his 60-plus-year career, Monk impacted the careers of numerous artists, including Randy Travis, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and Faith Hill. Monk was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2019.

Born Charles Franklin Monk on Oct. 29, 1938, in Geneva, Alabama, his career in entertainment began in high school in the 1950s, when he started sweeping floors at his hometown radio station WGEA. He quickly landed a weekend on-air shift as a disc jockey.

He went on to serve in the U.S. Army but was quickly drawn back to radio. He became a DJ on WTBF radio while attending Troy State University, followed by a stint on WKRG radio and television in Mobile, Alabama. He became program director and afternoon personality at WACT in Tuscaloosa, before returning to Mobile as a program director at WUNI. Monk would lead the station to become the top-ranking station in the market.

During his time at WUNI, he appeared as a guest announcer on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. In 1968, he moved to Nashville and WMTS radio in Murfreesboro, where his free-form music and talk show for the station became the first daily radio broadcast from Nashville’s Music Row.

In 1969, he was a founder of Country Radio Seminar, an annual multi-day educational event which has offered networking and career growth opportunities for the music industry professionals for more than 50 years while also serving as a top showcase event for new and emerging artists.

Monk produced and hosted the annual New Faces Show for 40 years and in the process, helped launch the careers of artists including McEntire, Travis, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, McGraw, Hill, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Vince Gill, Lambert, Strait and many others.

Monk also joined the staff of performing rights organization ASCAP in 1970 and began learning every aspect of the music business, while at the same time establishing relationships across the city’s country and gospel music industries.

In 1977, Monk became the Nashville chief of CBS Songs, which swiftly became one of Nashville’s top three publishers. He formed his own music publishing company, Monk Family Music Group, in 1983. He took a leave of absence in 1988 to spearhead the return of Acuff-Rose Music to the upper echelons of the industry, becoming the first publisher to win both ASCAP and BMI “Most Performed Song of the Year” in the same year.

In 1983, Monk signed a singer-songwriter by the name of Randy Traywick—now known as Country Music Hall of Fame member Randy Travis. Other songwriters and artist-writers Monk signed include Marcus Hummon, Holly Dunn, Jim McBride, Keith Stegall, Aaron Tippin, Chris Waters and Chesney.

Songs Monk published have been recorded by Travis, Tippin, Lonestar, McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Tracy Lawrence, The Mavericks, Cheap Trick, Kenny Rogers, Sandi Patti, Glen
Campbell, Otis Redding, Louise Mandrell, Trick Pony, Ike & Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, and John Michael Montgomery. Monk also saw his own written song recorded by artists including Jerry Reed, Eddy Arnold, Pat Boone, Mandrell, Jimmy Dean, Charley Pride, Angelo Badalamenti, Travis and Charlie Chase.

After a more than three-decade absence, Monk returned to radio in 2004 to help launch SiriusXM in Nashville, hosting the morning show on Willie’s Roadhouse, as well as a weekend music and interview show on SiriusXM’s Prime Country until 2022. Monk also served on numerous music organizations. He was an alumnus and board member of Leadership Music, a lifetime director of the Country Radio Broadcasters, and a member of the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, and the Gospel Music Association. He also served as vice president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, vice president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, vice president of the Gospel Music Association and local president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Monk’s honors include induction into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, The Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences
Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. He received awards from the Alabama House and Senate, Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.,
SESAC (1998 Publisher of the Year), BMI (Publisher for “Most Performed Song”) ASCAP (Publisher for “Most Performed Song”) and Nashville Songwriters Association International. He
earned a CLIO Award for commercial voice work, an Addy Award and awards and honors from the Mobile Press Register, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the
Nashville Association of Talent Directors. In 2021, Monk became only the ninth recipient of the CMA’s Joe Talbot Award for “outstanding leadership and contributions to the preservation and advancement of Country Music’s values and traditions.”

A lifelong lover of University of Alabama football, Monk is survived by his wife of 63 years, Royce Walton Monk; Sons Charles, Jr. (Sukgi) and Collin (Grace); Daughters Capucine
Monk and Camila Monk Perry (Scott); sisters in law Peggy Walton-Walker Lord (Larry) and Elsie Walton (Colin Hamilton); Grandchildren Sam (Christina), Nathan, Christabel, McKenna,
Theodore, Ella, Walton & Douglas; Great-grandchildren Alexis and Sophia and nieces Clara and Linda and nephews Wayne, Brian and Chip.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to MusiCares, Community Care Fellowship, Calvary United Methodist Church, Rochelle Center or CreatiVets.

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