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Chicks Boycott Overblown

Country trio still ruling the roost on radio

March 19, 2003 12:00 AM ET

While rock acts like Pearl Jam have gone relatively unchallenged when protesting the war on Iraq, the Dixie Chicks found out the hard way that such sentiments didn't fly as well with the flag-waving country set. After Lubbock, Texas, born singer Natalie Maines' remarked at a March 10th London show that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," reports of boycotts abounded. But Jaye Albright, a consultant to fifty country radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, calls the controversy "a tempest in a teapot."

"Out of some 2,100 country stations in America, maybe five or six boycotted the Chicks, and most of them only for a day or two as a publicity stunt," says Albright, singling out a bulldozing of Chicks CDs by Shreveport, Louisiana, station KRMD that drew an estimated 200 to 400 listeners. "A station can get that many people at any remote broadcast from a car dealership. It was very underwhelming, almost laughable."

The Dixie Chicks' U.S. arena tour, which kicks off May 1st in Greenville, South Carolina, has also enjoyed strong sales. The tour set an industry mark, selling out fifty-one out of fifty-nine dates the day tickets went on sale.

Maines quickly issued a personal apology to President Bush last week for her "disrespectful" remark. So far the storm has had no ill effect on the album sales for the band's Home, which sold 124,000 over the past week, good enough for Number Four on the charts. Next week's charts, which represent the sales week from March 16th through March 22nd, might provide an even better barometer as to whether the statement will have any ill effect on the band's popularity.

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