I wasn't about to play that game and long story short, I got called into an office and was told to take music calls and play the label game to a degree, because CEO of Citadel Larry Wilson had all of these friends in the Country Music industry. The fan hit the shiz when a label complained to Larry and told them we wouldn't add music unless we took cash. WHAT - The real translation was we wouldn't add music unless we had a promotion and that still wasn't true. We told the label and the rep, we had a great promotional idea for a song. It went all the way up the food chain that we were bad eggs. All because this station would not play the music game. I ran that station to win and win we did - #1 18-34, 25-54, 35-64 and 12+ in Fall 98.
Then a blessing in 1998, monitored airplay, that fixed their wagons. We still had some bumps and scrapes along the way. You can't expect to operate in this format and turn your back to Nashville. When Brian Phillips became the PD of KPLX Dallas in 1998, he was quoted in the trades as saying his station wouldn't submit to the music game from Nashville. He quickly amended that statement and now he runs CMT. We have come along way from reps being mad at you for drops and calling your manager. We use to bail on songs before they were over and blame it on the research - Which we didn't have - We made room for the right stiffs, by dropping the last ones. Most programmers would make room for new music, by lowering the rotation on hits.
We still have work to do on the inordinate amount of time that programmers spend on music issues, trades reporting music information constantly and the overall relationship between the two.