Yikes! Radio consultant: If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out

Martina and Jennifer
Martina McBride and Jennifer Nettles – photo via Grammy.com

For quite a while now, the lack of women being played on country radio has been a topic of discussion. Despite there being an over-abundance of talented women to choose from, nothing’s really changed in the last couple of years and no one can seem give a definitive answer as to why it’s not changing. But now one brave soul has come forward to give the answer that no one wants to hear but a lot of radio people are maybe thinking, and his answer had Jennifer Nettles tweeting one very memorable response.

Now when I say brave, I’m thinking brave in the kamikaze sense of the word because dayummm, this guy’s statements are kind of a suicide mission and I have a feeling he’s about to get a whole lot of hate coming his way.

Anyhoo, in Country Aircheck‘s most recent offering, they asked radio consultant Keith Hill (who they say is playfully described by some as “the world’s leading authority on music scheduling”) to identify some ways that radio stations can sound their best.  It all started out boring enough, but then came this doozy of a comment:

Finally, Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” he asserts. “The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19%. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”

Like I said, I’m pretty sure a lot of radio people feel the same way based on the numbers they see, but this guy is the first person I’ve heard put it so bluntly. I mean, he called lady singers the tomatoes of the salad world. LOL.

As you would expect, a couple country ladies had something to say about his comments. Yeah, I’m sure once word gets around there will probably be a whole lot more coming his way.

Martina McBride took to her Facebook yesterday and started a discussion. She wrote:

Wow…..just wow. Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I’m really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being “assessed” in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm….

Jennifer Nettles was a little more colorful with her response to Hill’s comments:

Yep, gotta love Jennifer and her equally blunt way of putting things.

While I think that Hill’s comments were a bit harsh, sometimes the truth hurts and right now no matter how much people whine and bitch about it, men rule the country music roost. It’s the Luke Bryan ass effect. We’re just mesmerized by those buns and it can’t be helped.


Maybe someday the desperate housewives of the world (like me) will snap out of it and things will change or maybe the radio people will quit following the numbers (and listening to radio consultants like this guy) and instead go with their hearts and start playing more women, but who knows how long that will take? I’m still of a mind that if you don’t like what’s being played on the radio then put your money where your mouth is and buy some music from some female artists. Support those you like rather than griping about those you don’t, but I know I’m in the minority with my way of thinking.

So what do you think of Hill’s statements?



This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. roger@oregonicons.com'
    Roger M

    Maybe their would be more male listeners if they played more female artist. I just canceled my satellite radio for this reason. They wouldn’t even play Kacey Musgraves. I got so tired of all sound alike male artists. Now I am listening to streaming music from my phone (Spotify) on my car radio. Guess what my station plays female artist. I know a lot of country music fans and none of them like all the sound alike male artists. I never thought country radio would disappoint me but it has.

    1. patty.doucette2012@gmail.com'
      Patty Doucette


    2. mbutler23@comcast.net'

      It wouldn’t be country radio without Miranda (and the rest of the ladies). OK, soi I enjoy singing along with Luke Bryan, mostly because of the effect he has on women (ditto Jason Aldean, Eric Church, etc.) but if it’s about vegetables, just try putting a bowl of lettuce and a bowl of tomatoes in front of me and see which one I choose, LOL!

  2. bstuna44@gmail.com'
    Robby Cvejanovich


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