enLighten receives new leader

In 2004, when XM launched their Southern Gospel channel, they selected Marlin Taylor to head up its programming. Taylor’s background was in another genre of music; he already handled programming XM’s Jazz/”Beautiful Music” channel. Yesterday, Taylor posted that after nine years leading up enLighten, he is stepping aside; he will remain in charge of his other channel. enLighten’s new director of programming, Kyle Cantrell, also comes from a different genre of music, albeit one that falls closer on the stylistic spectrum. Cantrell heads up XM’s bluegrass channel.

Taylor departs with kind words for his successor:

I will tell you that the channel is in the good hands of a committed Christian and dedicated professional broadcaster, Kyle Cantrell. Kyle lives in greater Nashville and has been with Sirius XM Radio for several years, working at our Nashville studios, which are located just across from the historic Ryman Auditorium, and is a member of First Baptist Church of Nashville, located just a block away.

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26 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Since I know some people have had complaints in the past about SiriusXM’s programming, I’m going to post a reminder about the comment rules: If a comment isn’t positive and constructive, it doesn’t stay up. 🙂

  2. With that thought in mind, this sounds like good news!

  3. While Enlighten is the sole reason I own an XM radio, I have not always been a fan of their playlists. I didn’t know Marlin other than hearing him on the radio. I am certain he did his best and I applaud his dedication. Hopefully, Kyle will continue to improve on the groundwork that Marlin has laid. If that happens, I will keep my XM soley for Enlighten.

  4. I am going to go against the grain here and say that I think Marlin has done a fantastic job. He always was open to suggestions and the program has increasingly gotten better under his direction. I for one am sadden to see him go and at the same time concerned about the direction of the station with a new person coming (unfamiliar with the music). Marlin really dedicated himself to learning the music and the artists. He was really interested in the music, the artists and the history of the music and over time that showed in the programming. I think this is going to be a set back for the station.

    • There is a bright side: From everything I have heard from a broad variety of friends and contacts in the bluegrass world, fans and artists in that genre absolutely love the quality of programming on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction. Fans and artists hold it up as an example of what bluegrass programming ought to look like. So if he did such a great job there, I’m quite optimistic that he’ll do well here, too.

      • While reading about the background of the new person at Enlighten, I can now understand why I am hearing so much more bluegrass music. Personally, I do not care for bluegrass, other than the Isaacs. I always change the channel or turn it off when Jeff & Sherry Easter are on, as well as the bluegrass program in the evening. I find that I have been listening less to Enlighten than in the past. I imagine if this trend increases, I will resort to listening to my vast CD collection instead of Enlighten.

  5. What made Wayne Wallace so great, along with Gaither radio, and the Gospel Greats program is that only the highest quality is played. Our new programmer at enlighten would do good to follow their example. I can hear local groups on am.

  6. Exactly right Pat.

  7. As someone who lives in an area with no southern gospel radio station, I am very thankful for Enlighten. I think Marlin has done a good job, and I wish him the best. Also, I’m excited about the future of the station, and believe that it will continue to do a great job broadcasting southern gospel music to North America!

    I have a large collection of southern gospel music, so I spend a lot of time listening to my own CD’s. However, on Enlighten I get to discover new artists. I can still remember being impressed with groups that I had never heard of like the Collingsworth Family and the Old Paths. Once I heard these groups on Enlighten I immediately researched them online and started listening the their music. So my message to the new director would be to play high quality music, but don’t just play established artists because I want to discover new (high quality) artists as well.

  8. Like some of the other posts, Enlighten was the reason I purchased satellite radio.

    Thanks to Marlin for taking on the responsibility to lead the station to where it is.

    I hope that the new leadership will take the station much further and almost “re-brand” it and give it a fresh direction/appeal. I feel that sometimes enlighten sounded stale in terms of its promotions, bumpers, some programming ect. I hope also that they listen to the fans and especially take artists input on how to move the station forward.

    Thanks again to Marlin and congrats to kyle!

    • Great comment, Steven. That’s exactly the sort of comment I hoped to see today – acknowledging the things enLighten has gotten right to date and expressing optimism for it getting even better in the future. Thank you! 🙂

  9. I just heard Pat Barker sing on our local AM station. Hoping Enlighten keeps plugging away at it.

  10. I agree with Brad. I have “found” many new artists thru Enlighten and have had the chance to support them by purchasing their music or seeing them in concert.

    Southern Gospel is rare here in New Jersey, and my sole reason for subscribing to Sirius raido was for the Enlighten station. I was glad to be a part of the countless listeners who helped to keep Enlighten on the air when it was almost removed from the Sirius lineup a few years ago.

    I have had the opportunity to meet Marlin at the National Quartet Convention, and wish I knew of his pending plans so I could have thanked him when I saw him last week.

    I look forward to what the future holds for Enlighten, and look forward to the chance to learn of many new artists.

    God bless you, Marlin, with peace and prosperity as you begin a new “broadcast” in your life.

    Bruce (Parsippany NJ)

  11. I have been thankful for Enlighten over the time of its existence, and for a guy that really didn’t know much about this music, Marlin has done a pretty good job. We all have our preferences and favorites and all of that. Just for my taste, though, it seems that the music selection overall has included more “bluegrassy” sounds over the past while, which is kind of ironic with the new change. . .

    Admittedly my listening to enlighten may come in spurts and probably no more than 1-2 hours a week total. I have enjoyed the segments on Saturday evenings when they play a live album, sometimes one from several years ago, or a live concert – those have been unique and I wouldn’t mind at all if those segments stay. Overall, though, I agree with Pat – the level of quality needs to be high. Someone thumbing across the dial on their sattelite radio needs to discover top notch stuff when they hit Enlighten.

  12. Good one “me”. my point, which obviously escapes you is the fact that enlighten should play only the highest quality of its genre. You don’t flip on the Elvis station and hear Elvis impersonators, but I have turned on enlighten many times and heard local groups singing to the tracks of full time groups, and singing it very poorly. Enlighten has a grand opportunity to advance this music but seems to only be reaching anonymous people like yourself. By the way, I just heard Bill Gaither on my am station so thanks for the compliment

    • Yeah, I just heard a group singing “Still Feeling Fine” on enLighten, doubling some vocal parts, and generally doing a shoddy job of it.

      Needless to say, it was not the Booth Brothers.

      Hopefully, the new leader will be able to eliminate some of that stuff that lowers the overall quality of the channel.

      I’m all for a lesser known group being played if they’ve recorded high quality music, by the way. I’ve heard some music by groups I recognized as national artists that should have been left off, too.

      It works both ways.

  13. Uhhhh Pat…….not to good at picking up on a joke are you? I was completely kidding. W.O.W.

    Btw……I’m a “full time” artist and we had dinner together this month. Breathe.

    • I encourage people commenting to comment using at least their (real) first name. If you were using your first name, and perhaps also your last, that would help in this setting. I’m a lot more likely to approve a comment when someone is willing to put their name behind it.

  14. Sorry it was last month. NQC jet lag talking

  15. I agree with Pat’s comments and also hope that it doesn’t become excessively “bluegrassy” as stated above.

  16. It is my understanding that the new programmer is based in Nashville, whereas Marlin was in Washington, DC. Somehow, I think that will only help “Enlighten”. Thanks Marlin for your pioneering work, and helping to keep the channel on when it looked doomed a few years ago.

  17. Marlin did a tremendous job leading Enlighten. Like the others who commented, I only subscribe to Sirius/XM because of Enlighten Radio and Enlighten only remains on Sirius/XM because of Marlin’s leadership. We owe him our thanks and our respect.

    No one, not now or in the future, will ever be able to satisfy everyone with their choices of songs played because we all have different preferences in music. The old saw that old people like old songs is just that, a generalization about likes and dislikes, some do and some don’t. Bluegrass gospel is just the ticket for some and an irritation for others. Fast or slow, solo or group, new or old, barn burner or old hymn of the church — no one format will ever please everyone.

    The music that reaches and inspires my soul may well be different from the music that inspires your soul, but if you listened long enough, Marlin made sure that all of our souls were touched and all our preferences included in his programming. Not a bad legacy — not bad at all! Thanks Marlin for a job well done!

    • good post. I worked southern gospel radio for years and still listen to a good many different “southern gospel” stations and Enlighten is better than 90% of them. Do i like everything that is played on Enlighten? – of course not, however many of these complaints are not painting an accurate picture of Enlighten or Marlin’s hard work to improve the quality of the music.

  18. Might be a good time to email the establishment again and let them know that many of us only have our subscriptions because of enlighten and thank them for keeping it moving forward…. It worked last time! Anyone know the appropriate email address?

    • That’s a fantastic idea, but no, I don’t.

  19. I only have satelite radio for the enlighten, bluegrass an message channels. With enlighten being my favorite I love southern gospel music always have and always will. There is a message in the southern gospel songs that will touch your heart if you will let it.