BEST COUNTRY RADIO STATION (2003)
KNIX-FM is Clear Channel Communications' local holding in country radio, which isn't exactly the sexiest distinction these days. But Phoenix is a long-standing C&W stronghold with a tradition that stretches back to Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings and friendly frequent visitor Buck Owens. And the folks at KNIX reflect a devotion to the music you would subsequently expect. While the station does play the rising hits as prescribed by Nashville, it finds time to slip in aging pop-country warriors Alabama and once-untouchable superstar Randy Travis, whose recent "Pray for the Fish" is a bona fide oddity that seems incongruent with the Faith Hill/Lee Ann Womack/Pam Tillis set. The station's friendliness to the artists who keep country grounded in its honky-tonk roots is commendable, as is the amusingly redneck but civil tone of morning jocks Tim & Willy.
Readers' Choice: KNIX-FM 102.5