The Grand Ole Opry is entertainment unlike any other. It broadcasts as a radio show, so the live audience sees artist and equipment changes. Seeing transitions is part of the experience.

From the Spring 2013 edition of Vanderbilt Business

A performance of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry is entertainment unlike any other. The Opry broadcasts as a radio show, so the action on stage is geared to a radio audience first, then to the people in the auditorium. The live audience sees announcers reading from behind a podium and performers bustling on stage, plugging in equipment and launching into song or a story. If equipment needs to be moved or adjusted, the audience sees that, too. The transitions are part of the fabric of the evening.

The subject of our cover story knows all about the Grand Ole Opry and transitions. As president of Opry Entertainment and executive vice president at Ryman Hospitality Properties, Steve Buchanan, BS’80, MBA’85, handles the business and entertainment sides of the Grand Ole Opry, celebrated Ryman Auditorium and legendary WSM radio. He was also instrumental in the development of the hit ABC television show, Nashville, for which he serves as an executive producer. As you’ll read, Steve was also responsible for transitioning the historic Ryman Auditorium from a candidate for demolition to an acclaimed performance venue.

edMemo_252Owen itself is going through some transitions. In this issue, we reacquaint (or introduce) you to Christie St-John, MA’94, PhD’99, the new head of admissions. Christie has returned to Vanderbilt from Dartmouth and she has some wonderful ideas for recruiting future Owen students.

The big transition we’re facing, of course, is that Jim Bradford is stepping down as dean of Owen and a new dean, M. Eric Johnson, will soon be at work. Fortunately, Jim is leaving the school in a strong position and Eric will have a powerful foundation on which to build.

We asked Jim to talk about what’s next. What we got instead was a manifesto that every business leader should follow: Jim’s wisdom about how leaders should spend their last 100 days in office is profound and visionary.

Speaking of changes, you’ve probably noticed a new author of this column. Seth Robertson, who edited Vanderbilt Business for more than five years, has joined Vanderbilt Magazine and passed the editorship to me. I’m enjoying learning about Owen and discovering all its wonderful people and stories.

There are other changes ahead for Vanderbilt Business. We are beginning work on a redesign of the magazine. That means a fresh look as well as new features and departments. Are there regular features you like? Never read? Would like to see expanded or changed? Should we do more alumni profiles? More stories about students? Email me at I look forward to your feedback.