On Friday a study was released by The University of Ottawa’s Jada E. Watson in consultation with WOMAN Nashville called “Gender Representation on Country Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018.” It revealed a huge disparity between the airplay male and female country artists receive at country radio. It’s a story that has plagued country radio for a very long time.
The report looked at a number of data subsets going back to the turn of the century. The authors of the study say the situation is not improving at all on country radio. In fact, they say, it’s getting significantly worse.
The study shows that the most-played male artist at country radio from 2000-2018, Kenny Chesney, earned more than 6 million spins. Superstar Carrie Underwood earned about 3 million spins, showing that country music’s biggest female superstars are subject to a two-to-one disparity in airplay compared to men.
The findings also show that spins for male artists during their worst years on the charts were still better than female artist’s best numbers for those same periods of time.
Billboard reports from its sources that some of the reasons given for lack of female airplay on country radio include deregulation and automation. “Since the Telecommunications Act was passed in 1996, deregulation allowed for radio conglomerates like Clear Channel, which narrowed the number of unique decision-makers dictating what was allowed the chance to become a hit. Additionally, the invention of automation created opportunities for programmers to schedule songs based on an artist’s gender, or filter songs out of rotation by the same metric.”
Dr. Watson says, “People can only aspire to what they can see — or hear. This report should serve as a warning that urgent action is needed to correct the course and work toward a more inclusive genre that reflects its diverse and growing audience
Read the 5-page summary of the study HERE