The musician was blocked from being played by major radio networks after a video surfaced online of him using a racial slur.
Now, nearly four months after that ban was put in place, Wallen’s music is being broadcast on stations owned by the likes of iHeartMedia, Cumulus Media, Cox Media and TownSquare Media. Speaking to Variety, one high-level radio executive described the star’s quiet return to the airwaves as being like “a soft opening”.
“There was no fanfare at all when people started adding it back in,” they said. “It’s been completely subdued and unnoticed.”
The report stated that affiliated stations were being given the final say in whether they played Wallen’s music and effectively being told to “make your own decision – if you’re comfortable with putting his music on the radio and think the guy has been on the sidelines long enough, that’s your call”.
Another radio insider added that those stations that had reintroduced Wallen to their playlists weren’t drawing attention to it. “Nobody is saying, ‘Guess what’s coming up next, a guy you haven’t heard in six months!’” they said.
“It’s a thing that people are going to do quietly and not want to make a lot of noise about. It’s like, have him blend back into the mosaic of the thing and not make a big deal about it.”
As well as being banned from radio stations, Wallen has also been excluded from major awards show shortlists, including the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the CMT Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards.
He was allowed to be nominated for the Billboard Music Awards, while the Country Music Association has said recordings he collaborated on with other artists would be eligible for their next awards ceremony in November, but he would be ineligible for any individual plaudits.
Last month, Wallen returned to the stage at Kid Rock’s Nashville bar, marking his first performance since the video of him screaming the n-word at a friend had been spread online.
When the video first surfaced, the musician cancelled all of his summer tour dates and was dropped by his label Big Loud, who said: “Such behaviour will not be tolerated”. Wallen later apologised, saying there were “no excuses to use this type of language, ever”.
“I want to sincerely apologise for using the word,” he added. “I promise to do better. I was wrong. It’s on me, and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing. The timing of my return is solely upon me and the work I put in.”