Just returned from a trip to Memphis, Tenn. to attend the annual Country Cares for St. Kids radio seminar. The three day event encourages country programmers from all across the country on how to make their station radiothons better and more successful.After all, it's all about raising money to help find cures for kids with catastrophic pediatric diseases. We had a chance to attend specific seminar sessions geared to what we are doing in our market. One of my favorite things to do each year is to take a tour of the hospital and see and hear about the latest treatments and advancements toward saving lives and curing childhood cancer. I have always been amazed about the success stories of patients who were treated their for years and survived have decided to pursue a career working for St Jude.

They have a session called "Meet The Patients" where the kids, teens and their families tell their stories to everyone in attendance. There were two individuals, Luis and Haley who are now 20 and 21, and when they came to St. Jude years ago they both had a form of bone cancer. They talked about how doctors at St. Jude gave them hope when at times things looked very bleak. Happy to say both made it through and are living remarkable lives today and both are in college pursuing degrees that will enable them to come back when they graduate to work there to help other kids with cancer.

Amid all the sad and uplifting stories we heard we did get to have a little fun too. We had dinner Thursday night at Kooky Canuck where we ran into Joe Nichols and "The Voice" winner this season Cassadee Pope who told me she plans on going the country route in her singing career. I told her I thought that was a smart move on her part. She was very polite and down to earth, just as she came across on TV. After dinner Lisa and our digital dude Jathan went to B.B. King's on Beale Street to hear some blues. You just can't go to Memphis without going down to Beale.

Friday night we attended a mock casino night at The Peabody where everyone was given $5,000 (fake money of course) to gamble on. We could use our earnings on buying autographed merchandise or use it to buy raffle tickets to try and win autographed guitars by country artists. In addition, several country stars were there hanging out including Brantley Gilbert who we cornered for a photo op. The winner of the X Factor, Tate Stevens, was there somewhere but I never ran into him.  The money we won we used to buy a very special painting as done by some kids from St. Jude and new artist 'Sweetwater Rain.'

So the night didn't end there, we wound up back on Beale St. where we found out Jathan's hidden talent in Superior's karaoke bar. Jathan entertained the crowd with his version of Reba's tune "Why Haven't I Heard From You?" Our very own Lisa secretly video taped it so now we have some incriminating video footage just in case. LOL

Finally, Saturday night was capped off at The Peabody Hotel Ballroom with a Songwriters Dinner and Concert. Randy Owen of the group Alabama, who is the Spokesman for the Country Cares organization, delighted the packed house with Mountain Music, Feels So Right, and Angels Among Us. There were several other songwriters from Nashville who joined him on stage to perform songs they have written for Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Gary Allan, Rascal Flatts and more. The setting for this showcase is more intimate because they tell stories and gave us a more behind the scenes look at how the songs came to be with a few jokes along the way. Randy brought the house down when he asked all the attendees there to stand up and sing 'Angels Among Us' to end the evening.

It was a great time and now we are fired up and looking forward to our annual Country Cares For St. Kids radiothon coming in February to Kicker 102.5.

Here's a few photos from the event followed by a popular video that was filmed last year by St. Jude.

Cassadee Pope and Mario Garcia/TSM
Randy Owen and Mario/TSM
Joe Nichols and Mario/TSM
Brantley Gilbert and Mario/TSM