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Dixie Chick Apologizes For Bush Slam

Some country music stations in Texas and other parts of the country stopped playing Dixie Chicks music after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush and possible war against Iraq.

Maines told a London audience Monday, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Shortly after reports of her statement got out, radio stations began receiving angry calls from listeners.

"We've had a huge listener reaction and movement against the statements," said Paul Williams, program director for country station KPLX in Dallas, the nation's fifth largest radio market.

Maines apologized Friday. "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful," the singer said in a statement. "I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."

In Talladega, Ala., WTDR-FM dropped the group Friday morning after more than 250 listeners called in a two-hour period complaining about Maines' comments.

"The emotion of the callers telling us about their fathers and sons and brothers who are overseas now and who fought in previous wars was very specific," said station president Jim Jacobs. "They were just outraged is all we can say. Most them called just to say, `Dump the Chicks.' So that's what we are doing."

The Dixie Chicks are touring Europe, supporting their recent release "Home," where Maines said Friday they are "witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war." Maines said she is a mother and wants to see "every possible alternative exhausted" before lives are lost.

Mr. Bush grew up in West Texas, has a ranch near Crawford and served as Texas governor for six years. Maines is a native of Lubbock.

The Web site for KSCS-FM, also in Dallas-Fort Worth, showed a photo of the three-member group, with black tape over Maines' mouth. The headline at read: "Have The Dixie Chicks Gone Too Far?"

KSCS program director Ted Stecker said he had never had this kind of response from an audience before, after 30 years in the music business in markets including Chicago, Atlanta and Washington D.C.

"A lot could depend on how the Dixie Chicks respond and face their fans," Stecker said.

WDAF in Kansas City set trash cans outside the radio station for people to throw their Dixie Chicks CDs away.

The station has boycotted the group's music on air, and its Web site displayed more than 800 e-mails from listeners. Most people voiced outrage about Maines' comment and praised the station for its boycott. A few voiced support for the group and for their right to freely speak their opinions about the country and the president.

Tom Fontaine, an on-air personality at KILT-FM in Houston, said they have suspended playing the Dixie Chicks.

"We stand behind our president and we are proud he is from Texas. We have run polls and the overwhelming majority of the calls have been for us not to play the Dixie Chicks," Fontaine said.

In San Antonio, Ben Reed, regional vice president for Cox Radio, said country station KCYY-FM will pull the Dixie Chicks from its playlist over the weekend and evaluate the situation.

"We've gotten more than a few people phoning in to say they're upset with the comments made" by Maines, Reed said.

In El Paso, Steve Gramzay, program director for KHEY-FM, said the station has received complaints and won't play any Dixie Chicks songs this weekend.

"It's a shame that we just can't be entertainment," Gramzay said Friday, adding that many angry listeners have called in wanting to ban the band forever. "We don't happen to believe there's a reason for corporal punishment - they didn't kill anybody."

He said the temporary ban will "give everybody a chance to cool down."

"Our listeners who seem to be the most vehement are the ones who own all the Dixie Chicks albums," he said. "They're talking about taking the albums back and never buying another one."

The Dixie Chicks won four Grammys at this year's show, including Best Country Album for "Home."

Their next stop is Wednesday in Munich, where American policies against Iraq are widely criticized.

The Dixie Chicks will kick off the U.S. leg of their "Top of the World Tour" May 1 in Greenville, S.C. The group's hits include "Wide Open Spaces," "Ready to Run" and "Landslide." They return to Texas May 21 in Austin. They will play in Dallas on July 6, in San Antonio on July 29 and in Houston on July 30.

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