I caught bits and pieces of the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night, including Brad Paisley winning the award for Top Male Vocalist. Every time we see him, my husband and I can't help but think back to when he was just making his mark. It was 1999, and I was sent to assist Doug, who was the photographer, and Betty Lou Pardue, who was the reporter, with our coverage of another awards show, the CMAs, in Nashville. We had planned an entire half-hour preshow live from the star walk with our radio partner, 97 Country (which is now 94 Country and is once again our partner - funny how things come full circle...but I digress). The radio personalities were going to be on the actual red carpet interviewing stars via a satellite link provided by our affiliate service, and Betty Lou was going to be a few feet away, closer to the media parking area, using a link via our own satellite truck. The trouble was our affiliate feed was through a newer technology known as a digital signal - yes, seems silly to think about now, but it was less than ten years ago that not everyone had digital receivers. Our engineer thought he'd worked out with the person who'd be back at the station a way to take it in, but, come show night, it didn't work. So there goes half our show - empty! So there's Betty Lou left to tap-dance, when who should another of our partners convince to detour from the red carpet to join her but Brad Paisley! It was one of his first years, if not the first year, attending the show and he wasn't highly sought after. But I'll tell you - he saved our show! I still remember he was wearing an olive-green colored velvet jacket, and was so kind and gracious. Look at him now! I don't think anyone would let us pull him from the red carpet anymore.