Thursday, June 21 WGNA will host the 2012 Country Idol finals at Vapor in Saratoga Casino and Raceway. After months of auditions the best singers in the Northeast will compete for $5,000. This year we are proud to announce a diverse and distinguished panel of judges who will help crown the winner.

WGNA's Richie Phillips and Scott Blaine represent the radio and media field, Rita Cox of Saratoga Casino represents the marketing and entertainment field, while Jay Yager of the Audiostars will offer the artist's perspective.

While most people are familiar with WGNA's Scott Blaine and Richie Phillips, and many people have seen Jay Yager lead the Audiostars, we'd like to introduce you to Rita Cox, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs at Saratoga Casino. Cox began her career with SONY Music in New York City, where she worked with country legends including Johnny Cash, George Jones and Willie Nelson.  After working for the Pepsi Arena, she now has more than 20 years of entertainment and event marketing experience under her belt. With almost ten years at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, she has seen a variety of artists come through the doors of Vapor Night Club and is a natural at recognizing strong talent.

Wondering what the judges are looking for in a 'Country Idol' winner?

Rita Cox: "In a country idol winner, I’m looking for someone whose energy, personality and voice leaves me wanting more. They should have the ability to capture the audience’s attention and keep it throughout their performance."

Jay Yager: "Being an idol isn't necessarily about being the best singer.  It's about being a total entertainer, who can not only hit notes, but engage an audience and master his or her domain on the stage.  It's a presence and an "it" factor, combined with talent - that elevates a performer to Idol status."

Scott Blaine: "I am looking for the complete package...Vocals, looks, stage presence!!! I want to feel like I am watching a headliner of a major tour up there on that stage!"

Richie Phillips: "I'm looking for someone who of course sings in tune, but also shows personality, great stage presence, and looks like they really love what they're doing. That's the difference between a performer and someone who is very mechanical on stage."