Up until yesterday, Kirt Webster was one of Nashville’s most well-known publicists, handling some major clients including Kid Rock, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
Today is a different story. After the Nashville Scene broke a story about alleged sexual misconduct charges made by former country singer Austin Rick, USA Today and the Tennessean published a scathing report on Webster that included allegations from ten former employees at his firm, accusing Webster of abusing his employees, making inappropriate sexual advances on male subordinates and misusing his access to stars like Parton to solicit sexual favors from her fans.
Late yesterday the allegations continued to hit the press after a second aspiring artist, who did not share their name, made similar allegations to Rick. And just when things couldn’t get any stranger, Webster posted a note to his website yesterday that he was abruptly shutting his company down. Hours later, his firm was back in business under a new name. Longtime business partner Jeremy Westby has taken over as the head of the renamed firm Westby PR.
I have never met Webster, but his name is instantly recognizable — I did a quick scan of my inbox and found 36 press releases from nine different publicists from Webster PR for the month of October alone. Webster PR is one of the largest PR firms in Nashville and its demise will create a temporary void in Music City that will eventually be filed by other, less duplicitous publicity shops.
Like so many other sexual harassment allegations that have surfaced in recent days, the Webster charges came as a shock at first, and then slowly, more people come forward and we find out little was being done to correct this type of inappropriate behavior. It’s 2017 guys…time to separate your sex life from your work life. More importantly, when in doubt….keep it in your pants!