Six years after its launch, Garth Brooks’ SiriusXM channel, The Garth Channel, will go off the satellite and online radio outlet at midnight Oct. 1.
The 24/7 station bowed in September 2016 while Brooks was midway through a multi-year, 390-date arena tour. In 2019, he started a three-year stadium outing that, after a pandemic pause, wraps this weekend in Dublin and sold more than 6.2 million tickets for the North American leg.
As the tour winds down, Brooks says he felt it was time to close the radio chapter as well. “[The Garth Channel] sold a ton of tickets for us on the [arena] tour and a ton of tickets for us on the stadium tour and now the drive for what it was and what it stood for is coming to a close,” he tells Billboard. “We plan this purposefully for all our stuff to be coming to a close here to see what our next step might be.”
Much more than a driver to sell tickets, the station has served as a community hub for Brooks and his fans. He frequently appeared on the channel sharing his experiences with the artists the outlet played and the station offered fun bits of Brooks’ trivia. The Garth Channel also simulcast his weekly Monday Facebook visit with fans, “Inside Studio G,” which will continue.
“We are incredibly grateful and proud to have collaborated with Garth to present the Garth Channel on SiriusXM,” a SiriusXM spokesperson told Billboard. We have enjoyed our creative relationship and look forward to working on future projects together.” A replacement for Brooks’ outlet, which airs on channel 55, is expected to be announced soon.
Unlike some other artist-devoted channels on SiriusXM that play only the music of their namesakes, The Garth Channel features Brooks’ music roughly 25% of the time, with the rest of the airplay dedicated to artists he liked, including acts he grew up on, his contemporaries and newer performers.
The station has played a wide range of classic and contemporary country, pop and R&B. A recent half-hour segment included Brooks’ cover of Ashley McBryde’s “Girl Going Nowhere,” which segued into Lady A’s “Just A Kiss,” Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” and Chris LeDoux’s “Hooked on an 8 Second Ride.”
For Brooks, the most gratifying part has been breaking down barriers between genres and eras of music. “The greatness was that you could hear Bruno Mars and Merle Haggard back to back and you heard two great artists with two totally different great kinds of music, and you liked them both,” he says. “So that was a sweet message to get across. I love that you heard Aretha Franklin with Adele and Tammy Wynette, and all of that worked.”
Though Sirius XM senior director of programming Lou Simon handled much of the programming chores, Brooks was actively involved in curating the musical selections and often made suggestions. For example, he fell in love with Walk Off the Earth’s version of the Gotye hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” so that was the version the station played. Or on his birthday, he asked the channel to go Garth-free so he could hear “great stuff that I don’t have anything to do with other than being a fan,” he says.
Brooks isn’t closing the door on the channel returning, saying he told SiriusXM executives that “in the future if something happens, I hope my call is welcome,” he says. “[They said], ‘It’s welcome anytime.’ They’ve been very sweet about everything from start to finish.”
The first song played on The Garth Channel was Brooks’ uplifting 2014 top 20 Country Airplay hit “People Loving People.” If the superstar has his way, he says it will close the channel as well: “I can’t imagine a better message to start with or to end with.”