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WYCD programmer headed to Country Music Hall of Fame

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Tim Roberts started his radio career as a rocker, interning at Detroit's WRIF and working at Central Michigan University's WMHW.

He never expected to have a career in country radio -- let alone be inducted into the County Radio Hall of Fame.

"It kind of feels surreal, quite frankly," Roberts, the program director and operations manager of Southfield-based WYCD, said Tuesday, Jan. 5, after it was announced that he'll be part of the Country Radio Hall of Fame class of 2016, which will presented by country star Luke Byran on February 8 during the opening ceremonies of the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. A formal ceremony will take place later this year.

"It's overwhelming and it's awesome and thrilling and kind of a dream of a lifetime coming true that you never think will happen for you."

The Allen Park native -- who also helms CBS Radio's WOMC and WDZH (Amp Radio) -- got his first country job in 1979 at WCEN in Mount Pleasant. "I didn't know anything about country," recalls Roberts, 55. "The owner of the station was like, 'Do you know anything about country music,' and I'm like, 'The Eagles?' But I started thinking about TV shows -- Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell, Dolly Parton. I knew them and that music and so I got the job.

"And then when I was there I grew to love the music instantly. It was all about discovery; we were able to play what we wanted so I'd just find things and play them and really got to immerse myself in the music."

Roberts went on to work in Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington state and San Francisco and, while working as Cumulus Media's Midwest operations manager, led WQXK in Youngstown, Ohio, to a Country Music Association Station of the Year honor.

Roberts returned to the Detroit area in 1995 to work at WWWW and has been with WYCD since 2005. Under his watch the station has become one of the most powerful and influential country outlets in the U.S., winning Station of the Year awards from the CMA and the Academy of Country Music, along with Marconi Awards. Its annual Downtown Hoedown is a marquee event on the national country music calendar, and Roberts counts some of the genre's biggest superstars as his personal friends.

"I've met so many, really ever artist, that's in the format and spent time with a lot of the best songwriters," says Roberts, who resides in Farmington Hills and his three children with his wife, Lori. "They're genuine people, and just getting to know them personally and professionally and respecting the craft that they do has been so wonderful. There's an intimacy between country radio and country music that's unparalleled in any industry.

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