Country radio programmer: "take females out"

Thursday, May 28, 2015 – A leading radio consultant raised a brouhaha following comments he made this week questioning whether country radio stations could be successful playing female singers.

Keith Hill cautioned against playing too many female singers, according to a story in the May 26 issue of "Country Aircheck," a publication for the radio industry. The story said that playing females back to back was a "no-no."

""If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out," he said in the story. "The reason is mainstream country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75 percent, 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 percent. 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."

There has been much comment in recent months about the lack of female artists on radio. Few except Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are receiving much airplay. This week's top 25 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart features two female singers - newcomer Kelsea Ballerini and Underwood. Seventeen songs feature male singers, including two by Luke Bryan.

The response to Hill has been decidedly negative.

Miranda Lambert tweeted today, "I am gonna do everything in my power to support and promote female singer/songwriters in country music. Always."

Martina McBride posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday, "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 sent a tweet out as well: "Don't worry babe. I see an opportunity here. I big ole vagina shaped opportunity."

Music publicist Alison Auerbach supported McBride's post on Facebook. "And here is why when you listen to Country Radio you hear what radio programmers want you to hear. At least I can distinguish the female artists from their male counterparts for the most part because they don't all sound the same. And I relate to female artists' lyrics. I say this guy stepped in it."

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