At the beginning of the summer, I was accepted as a promotions intern at Beasley Broadcast Group in Bala Cynwyd, PA. Though there are two radio stations in the studio I work for (Wired 96.5, 92.5 XTU), I was under the impression that I’d be working solely with Wired, “Philadelphia’s Hip Hop Station”, since I’m more familiar with that type of music. Sure, I’ve listened to bluegrass, maybe jammed out to the Dixie Chicks now and then, but when I was asked to do promotions for the Toby Keith concert for XTU, the country station, my first reaction was dread. Confederate flags and cowboy boots are not quite my scene.
We pulled up to the concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center and set up the XTU broadcast booth. The parking lot was filled with people in cowboy hats holding red solo cups. After we got all set up, to my surprise, people started coming up to ME and asking to take pictures with the ‘XTU girl’. They weren’t concerned with my tattoos or piercings or my beliefs or my ethnicity… the tailgaters were genuinely stoked to have their picture taken with a promo person from their favorite radio station.
I began to see the error in my thinking. I was typecasting people based on what music they listened to. I genuinely do love the XTU fan base, and I was wrong to think that the Toby Keith fans would be any different than the fans I’ve met in the past.
No matter your cultural background, political beliefs, or music taste, let me tell you… when Toby Keith comes to town, these fans are here to party and you are GUARANTEED to have a good time. While walking through the tailgate lot taking pictures and handing out XTU stickers, it seemed like every group of tailgaters I encountered was asking me if I wanted a water or a hot dog.
These two fine gents were part of the Barb’s Harley ride to the Toby Keith concert. I talked to them for quite a bit about Harleys and country music and found out that we have a lot in common. When I went to move on to the next group, they insisted that I jumped in the picture with them because they’re HUGE XTU fans.
This guy and his family saw that I was running low on my water supply and gave me a water bottle from his cooler. I told them that I’ve never ridden on a Harley and had I not been working, they were about to take me on a little ride through the parking lot.
In conclusion, I learned a huge lesson from this experience. You really can’t judge a book by its cover. I never thought I’d be one to stereotype, but as a resident of North Philadelphia, I thought I’d stick out like a sore thumb at this concert. The Toby Keith tailgate fans were some of the most humble, welcoming, down to earth people I’ve met through my internship. They’ll be the first to call themselves “rednecks”, but don’t let that fool you– these people don’t want to alienate or judge you, they’re here to have a good time.