Trent Harmon, Season 15 Winner of American Idol, to Perform at NASH Next Challenge 2016 Finals Event at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge on October 25th

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Becomes First-Ever National Presenting Sponsor of NASH Next Challenge

ATLANTA, GA – (Sept. 30, 2016) – Cumulus Media, #1 for country and radio’s dominant source for country music, announced today it has signed two country favorites to the NASH Next Challenge 2016, a one-of-a-kind national and grassroots talent search and artist development program for country music. Trent Harmon, Season 15 Winner of FOX’s American Idol, will perform at the NASH Next Challenge 2016 Finals Event at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge on October 25, where the NASH Next 2016 winner will be selected from 10 national finalists competing at the event. Concurrently, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson has signed on as the National Presenting Sponsor of NASH Next Challenge 2016.

Country Inns & Suites, an upper midscale hotel brand that provides a modern homelike aesthetic and warm, welcoming service with over 470 locations across North America will present the NASH Next Challenge 2016 Final Event, kicking off their first NASH Next experiential activation with more to come in 2017.

Cumulus’ NASH Next Challenge 2016 pays tribute to the great tradition of radio as a launch pad for our most beloved musical talent and celebrates country music, the most popular music genre in the United States with 97 million fans. The four-month-long national competition, announced in July by country legend Reba McEntire, will award one winner a recording contract with Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, as well as substantial exposure, commensurate with a major label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide. While television boasts several talent competitions, no other contest — on any platform — has ever offered its winner a similar opportunity for coveted radio airplay, which is the most effective medium to cultivate an artist and propel a major music career.

Christina Albee, CMO, Cumulus Media said: “We are thrilled with the artist and listener communities who are supporting NASH Next 2016. 715 artists have signed-up to compete and over 50,000 listeners have raised their hands to help us rate and select the best artist from across the country. Millions of #NASHNext social shares have helped spread the word, creating excitement around the only country music talent search of its kind. We are extremely proud to partner with Country Inns & Suites, who celebrate country music and lifestyle as much as we do.”

Dan Sweiger, Vice President, Branding, Country Inns & Suites said: “At Country Inns & Suites, we’re passionate about bringing people together through social and authentic experiences. NASH Next shares our passion for country music and together, we’re creating exciting experiences our guests will love.”

In the last five years, country has replaced pop as the No. 1 most popular music genre in the United States, with 97 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2015). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal. Cumulus’ country programming is broadcast on 82 percent of all country radio stations nationwide.

About the Nash Next 2016 Challenge

To date, sixty-eight NASH/Cumulus stations in 60 markets, including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville, have conducted local searches for emerging artists, with additional national participation made possible by Cumulus’ digital properties and syndicated country shows. Cumulus listeners and local music industry professionals first judged the emerging artists. Finalists, and the 2016 winner, will be selected by a panel of some of the biggest names in country music, including Scott Borchetta, founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the world’s No. 1 independent record label, Kix Brooks, half of Grammy-winning duo Brooks & Dunn, one of country music’s most successful duos of all time, Jay DeMarcus of chart-topping Rascal Flatts, and Danielle Bradbery, Season 4 Winner of The Voice. These judges will be joined by a contest-winning listener of one of Cumulus’ stations.

Local artists entered the competition via the NASH Next 2016 website ( and to date, have been judged on two challenges, by local music industry professionals, as well as listeners in their communities. First asked to submit an original song, contestants then adapted a popular song with a new style. In September, NASH stations will host local live events or select their finalist by judging the contestants in a video performance of an original song.

In October, local winners move on to the national challenge, submitting a live performance video showcasing their best original song, with the top 10 artists selected by top country music professionals. Those national finalists will be announced on October 10, 2016, and will then compete at the NASH Next Challenge 2016 Finals Event, a live concert event at Mercury Lounge in Nashville on October 25, 2016, where the NASH Next 2016 winner will be selected by the celebrity judging panel and one listener fan judge.

About Trent Harmon

Trent Harmon holds the reigning title as American Idol. The Season XV victor originally hails from East Mississippi and immersed himself in music from an early age. From singing “Amazing Grace” with his family to starring in various musicals in college, Trent credits life on his family’s farm as a major influence on his music career. Less than one week after taking the title during the final season of American Idol, Trent entered the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, earning him a “hot shot debut” with coronation song “Falling,” which was written by Idol judge Keith Urban along with celebrated songwriters Dallas Davidson and Brett James. Already in the studio, the 25-year-old musician is eager to begin recording his self-described “Country-soul” album and recently released his debut single “There’s A Girl” on FOX & Friends’ Summer Concert Series. Critics raved week-after-week following each of Trent’s “vocally gifted” (LA Times) performances as he covered hits by Justin Timberlake, Sia, Parson James, Percy Sledge and more. For the latest updates, follow Trent on Twitter.

About Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM is a leading upper midscale hotel brand with over 470 hotels in the United States, Canada, India and Latin America. The brand’s Be Our Guest service philosophy encourages employees to serve guests with the same kind and caring spirit given to friends when they are being hosted at home. Signature brand amenities include free high-speed Internet, complimentary hot breakfast served on classic dining ware, fitness centers, a Read It & Return Lending LibrarySM and business centers.

Country Inns & Suites By Carlson is a part of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which also includes Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu®, Radisson®, Radisson RED, Park Plaza® and Park Inn® by Radisson. For reservations and more information visit, Connect with Country Inns & Suites By Carlson on social media: @CountryInns on Twitter and

About Cumulus Media

A leader in the radio broadcasting industry, Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS) combines high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands to deliver premium content choices to the 245 million people reached each week through its 451 owned-and-operated stations broadcasting in 90 US media markets (including eight of the top 10), more than 8,200 broadcast radio stations affiliated with its Westwood One network and numerous digital channels. Together, the Cumulus/Westwood One platforms make Cumulus Media one of the few media companies that can provide advertisers with national reach and local impact. Cumulus/Westwood One is the exclusive radio broadcast partner to some of the largest brands in sports, entertainment, news, and talk, including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, the Olympics, the GRAMMYs, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, Westwood One News, and more. Additionally, it is the nation’s leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its NASH brand, which serves country fans nationwide through radio programming, exclusive digital content, and live events. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Lisa Dollinger, Dollinger Strategic Communication for Cumulus Media, 512.633.4084,

Staci Graber, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, 763-212-4252,