Owens broke into national syndication in 1977 when he created and produced A Concert Behind Prison Walls with Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, and Roy Clark.
The next year, he created the Music City News Country Awards. It became a top rated show in national syndication, with Owens producing and syndicating the awards show via his own company through 1984.
In 1983, he created country music’s first entertainment news talk show, bringing together news correspondent Lorianne Crook with veteran radio personality and local television host Charlie Chase . The Crook & Chase program, This Week in Country Music, brought country music entertainment news, interviews and performances to an audience hungry for information on its favorite music genre. The show was produced in various US cities and even went international.
The Nashville Network partnered with Jim Owens Entertainment for original content creation in 1985. That saw TNN take off in the 1980s and 1990s with such Owens shows as the TNN/Music City News Country Awards, Weekday, Weekend, Country Standard Time, TNN/Music City News, Songwriters Awards, and Yesteryear.
As country music boomed in the 1990s, so did Owens’s work. In 1993, Crook & Chase moved into the primetime 90-minute flagship slot held by Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in Owens’ name to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s digital preservation efforts. Memorial plans have not been announced.